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B. Harmsen "B Harmsen" (UK)

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Revolution: The Great Crisis of the British Monarchy, 1685-1720
Revolution: The Great Crisis of the British Monarchy, 1685-1720
by Tim Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.99

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A highly biased book with great omissions, 14 Aug 2011
This is a very strange book. Although it seems to have high praise reviews, I see this book as fundamentally flawed. The cover is badly chosen. It shows William of Orange (William III of the Netherlands) but he is within the book a minor player. A mere puppet who is not indicated to have had any influence on historical events, which are described as merely a British Isles affair. There is no indication of why he decided to go to England (he was invited and merely came as if summoned), all the narrative concerns discussion within the local parliaments and William merely gives his final consent and does not seem to have any influence. He is not an active participant for such an important figure. I therefore see the rich detail as chosen in an extremely biased way with fundamental aspects omitted for drawing adequate causal conclusions.

The rich detail to the seeds of unrest are well described (James and the implementation of his agenda and the reaction to this among the general public). It is however the case that such unrest could only be changed into a change of ruler if there was any real backing of military force behind it with teeth. This is indicated by the failing of two minor military uprisings that were supposed to be fuelled by popular resentment. The Dutch were the most powerful and wealthy protestant country at the time and were the only ones able to finance and back a real threat with ease. They were also the only with the ability to launch a maritime invasion since the Dutch had supremacy of seas since the English were not yet the rulers of the sea. The book completely overlooks this aspect as having an important causal effect. Even though events preceded the actual invasion, it was known that the invasion was going to happen and therefore the changing of grumbling into action must have been heavily influenced by this plan. Any detailed pamphlet debate within the British Isles, which is what the book concentrates on, would be merely academic without this substantial military law enforcement force available. Any influence of William and the Dutch within this phamplet debate is disregarded as well.

The author clearly has not looked into any Dutch historical sources and as such misses out important causal events. William was an extremely competent ruler, used to dealing with parliamentarian like bodies in the Netherlands, which were much stronger developed compared the British Isles. Within Dutch history he is seen as the Orange ruler who was best able to deal with the divided forces in the Netherlands between the conservative protestants who were seen as the Orange supporters and the liberal parliamentarians of the ruling trading class of the province of Holland. The marriage to Mary was from early on a political marriage since he had ambitions for the English crown. He was certainly not a passive player in arranging and organising any revolt or uprising. I bought this book to get a good English perspective on this, finding out that there is no perspective at all.

One of the problems with James was that he needed the resources of his kingdom to maintain power. The establishment of a standing army was dependent on tax and he needed parliament for this. William did not need this. He had the might of Dutch money to finance this endeavour and was therefore in a much more powerful position. He actually needed to discuss this invasion within the equivalent of the Dutch parliament and they approved. He even had to ask and discuss if he could be made king within the Netherlands. This is therefore a relatively consorted effort from the Dutch nation to get him over.

William retained the elite of his Dutch army in the UK throughout his rule, indicating that he saw the potential for uprising. The population was thus unable to disagree too much with this loyal military presence that they knew would not waver. The Dutch military suffered consequentially within the European theatre since they could not rely on a well trained military core which remained in the British Isles.

This book therefore forces the subject of the revolution to be a British Isles affair while the Dutch and international situation with France cannot be ignored. One paragraph is devoted to this within the book, stating that it had influence but subsequently downplays it completely.

These gross omissions go together with almost tedious detail of unrest description, giving the impression of high levels unrest in England and Scotland (apart from the true war situation in Ireland). There is however no comparison with unrest levels in other periods making it difficult to say if unrest was more or less compared to other periods. The examples are so detailed that we cannot conclude if these were the only ones or examples of a large number. There is also a high emphasis on how protestants justified their shift allegiance from James to William, which is in many ways very academic since they did it anyway and so a debate on why they did it is far less interesting compared to the political power play. The influence of William as a ruler and the changes that he made are also completely ignored. Are any of the parliamentarian changes after the revolution based on a Dutch system of government? What was there influence of William being familiar with a much parliamentarian system on the changes in the British Isles? Again he is a mere puppet and parliament makes changes and he is not mentioned as a player in any way.

As a conclusion a biased book with overly high detail on specific national parts of the revolution while omitting important other parts of more international nature, which influenced the outcome and changes from the revolution.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 11, 2014 5:18 PM GMT

Napoleon (LIVES)
Napoleon (LIVES)
by Paul Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.06

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A classic English review of Napoleon with mistakes, 27 Nov 2010
This review is from: Napoleon (LIVES) (Paperback)
I agree with some of the fellow reviewers that this book suffers from mistakes and only draws on the somewhat limited and often biased English literature of the Napoleonic era. There are currently some really good books coming out drawing on Russian and German historical sources and these have certainly not been included. This is one of those books that does not take into account the overall picture of the era with the coalition, mainly led by the English, of aggressively wanting to revert back to the Ancien regimes of old Europe, with all its repression and unequal distribution of resources. France if wanting to remain a republic had to fight, Napoleon or no Napoleon. This does not detract from the horrors of war that Napoleon created, his personal glorification etc. The author almost solely wants to put the war at the feet of Napoleon who merely inherited it and ran off with it. The comparison with later ruthless dictators is unwarranted. The book lacks any objectivity with the author emphasising only bad things about Napoleon, for example at the end when the author goes into great unnecessary details about Napoleon's somewhat none masculine body features, which do not add anything to the authors argument but merely seem to give the author some enjoyment in a childish way of that he was a bad lover and not overly manly.

I am not saying that Napoleon was a good man but he was more a product of the era on which he put his stamp; with some good parts and with many bad parts. The author merely indicates a biased British version. In some way this book is the equivalent of a George W Bush writing a biography of Saddam Hussein.

The Battle of the Berezina: Napoleon's Great Escape (Campaign Chronicles)
The Battle of the Berezina: Napoleon's Great Escape (Campaign Chronicles)
by Alexander Mikaberidze
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 18.26

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Battle of the Berezina: Napoleon's Great Escape, 8 Sep 2010
If you are a fan of Napoleonic campaign books this a good one. I read about the Russian campaign in general but this gives a real detailed overview of the dramatic action on the Berezina and how Napoleon got away and dealt with this major obstacle. It also gives a well founded new perspective on the role that the various armies played in the campaign. It especially indicates how badly the different Russian armies collaborated with Kutuzov basically avoiding a confrontation altogether. This book gives a very well balanced account with new source material of the Russian and allied side apart from the many French ones. The book reads very well with the drama of this campaign indicated by many personal accounts. Maps and diagrams are adequate and help understand the detailed description of troop movement and action. Strongly recommended

Napoleon and the Campaign of 1806: The Napoleonic Method of Organisation and Command to the Battles of Jena & Auerstadt
Napoleon and the Campaign of 1806: The Napoleonic Method of Organisation and Command to the Battles of Jena & Auerstadt
by Vache Colonel Vache
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Napoleon and the campaign of 1806: the Napoleonic Method of Organisation and Command to the Battles of Jena & Auerstadt, 8 Sep 2010
This book is different from most (Napoleonic) campaign books in that there is very little information on troop movements, battle field drama, manoeuvres, which usually makes up campaign books and which is what most people want out of them (including me!!). This book shows the interesting angle of focusing on the command structure and way how Napoleon gathered its information, how this information reached him and how he subsequently distributed orders to its various commanders after having processed this information. The book describes well how this system gave the French army an edge due to its centralised system of command with a single competent person (Napoleon) in charge, giving rapid sequences of orders reacting quickly to new information. The pros and cons of the system are discussed in detail and indicates where in later years the system went wrong with Napoleon making mistakes. The Jena campaign is merely a vehicle to explain this system. If you are looking for a good Jena campaign book, which was my original motive for buying the book, this is not the one for you. The book is a translation from a relatively old text but still reads well and is well structured. A good read for any Napoleonic war buff, giving you a unique perspective not detailed in other campaigns books.

1809 Thunder on the Danube: Fall of Vienna and the Battle of Aspern v. 2: Napoleon's Defeat of the Habsburgs
1809 Thunder on the Danube: Fall of Vienna and the Battle of Aspern v. 2: Napoleon's Defeat of the Habsburgs
by John H. Gill
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 23.71

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and detailed story of this murderous battle, 19 May 2010
Well written and extremely well researched. You can see that this is somebody who had access to many sources of original material and has studied them well. Written in a good pace with interwoven detail of battle orders and manouvers that actually does not become boring. I am really looking forward to the Wagram conclusion. Even though you know the outcome it almost reads like a good thriller.

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