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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gambling Man
An excellent book. Thoroughly researched and written in a manner that brings the characters to life. It gives a whole new insight in King Charles as not just a womaniser but as someone who held the different factions, both at court and in the country,at bay. He struggled to achieve harmony amongst the religious groups. Jenny Uglow makes it all come to life; a real page...
Published on 25 Dec 2009 by Mr. W. Duff

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Impressive Detail but not incisive
Uglow has obviously done alot of research and background reading but this portrait of Charles II was frustratingly lacking in a cohesive thread and fell short of a real understanding of the subject. Uglow covered alot of events and people but this made for a disjoint and uneven read. Charles II may have been an enigma and covering only the period from 1660 to 1670 meant...
Published on 23 Dec 2010 by Kiwifunlad


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant year by year account, 12 Oct 2010
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J. Holden "John Holden" (Hindhead, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Gambling Man (Paperback)
A Gambling Man is a very readable account of the happenings around Charles II during the key decade of his reign from 1660 to 1670. Its level of detail in each year is enough to be fascinating, not so deep as to be boring to a general reader. That's a tricky balance, and it's very well done. I'll be looking for more from this author.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 5 July 2010
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J. Baldwin "JB" (Birmngham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Gambling Man (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book, packed with fascinating detail, about a strange period in history. The book is based upon meticulous and detailed research yet it is immensely readable. Jenny Uglow has a unique gift for bringing these complex characters to life.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Impressive Detail but not incisive, 23 Dec 2010
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Uglow has obviously done alot of research and background reading but this portrait of Charles II was frustratingly lacking in a cohesive thread and fell short of a real understanding of the subject. Uglow covered alot of events and people but this made for a disjoint and uneven read. Charles II may have been an enigma and covering only the period from 1660 to 1670 meant that the reader only got a sketchy background to what made Charles act and behave the way he did. For example his tolerance of the behaviour and actions of Buckingham. The period was obviously full of drama and scandal and intrigue but I feel for all the period detail, the over 500 pages of reading was not rewarded by any useful insight.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Charles II exposed, 16 Dec 2013
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I have read several books on Charles II and this one, more than most, dispels the myth of Charles II as being the pleasant merry monarch of popular history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great book, 17 Nov 2013
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A fun read if you want to read about Charles II and what he got up to (so far as we can tell).
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5.0 out of 5 stars life lesson Nothing is as it seems., 20 Aug 2013
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This review is from: A Gambling Man (Paperback)
I felt simultaneous dislike sympathy and admiration for how this man juggled the demands made of him. Cant help applying his dilemmas to similar situations in the news now and reflect that nothing seems to have been learnt . I found it difficult to remember all the people coming and going but couldnt put the book down ;I will reread it again and am inspired to read biographies of many of his associates.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A safe bet, 17 Jun 2013
This review is from: A Gambling Man (Paperback)
A Gambling man is a book that deals with the first 10 years of the reign of Charles 11 and covers the crucial period when the Restoration Settlement was introduced and bedded in with the machinations at court as Charles 11 had to use all his guile and experience to survive haughty courtiers, naughty mistresses and a populace that were yet to be convinced about the new king. Similarly, it takes a European perspective, particularly focusing on France to show how charles had to please a foreign audience as well.Uglow is incapable of writing a bad book and her attention to detail- in particular- the milieu of court and courtiers- is both telling and atmospheric. The gambling metaphor itself is less satisfactory. Charles reigned for 25 years and if he gambled with political or religious options the results could have been catastrophic. Uglow sees him constantly beset by issues and problems both domestic and foreign. The religious settlement evaded his own wishes for toleration and management of parliament seemed unpredictable and frustrating for a king whose Stuart roots erred towards absolutism. Uglows narrative does see short termism as the rule of thumb- Charles hardly got through one crisis before another engulfed him. Uglow doesn't always explain why Charles seemed to be constantly wrong-footed by parliament but does give excellent pen portraits of ministers and advisors- notably Buckingham and other members of the 'Cabal'. His mistresses are dealt with in a non judgemental way despite the fact contemporaries constantly judged him and Uglow chimes in with some scholarship over the last 20-30 years that sees the kings increasingly political role as a product of the more confident parliamentary scene- JR Jones in his book Charles 11- Royal politician(1986) also sees Charles having to adopt a constant short term reactive agenda. He strikes a more heroic figure in crisis such as the fire, where he literally helped to douse the flames and Uglow is good at using theatre as a barometer of the political scene- plays literally played out and commented on courtly intrigue.
Overall Charles is tainted historically by The secret Treaty of Dover where a French pay off in return for his suposed announcement of a conversion to catholicism epitomised (for some) his dissembling nature and life in thrall to the mighty Louis of France. Uglow is sympathetic to Charles and sees him as playing a double game with Louis.
A Gambling Man is certainly racy, readable and informative about all aspects of the Restoration regime. It is not a masterpiece like Claire Tomalin's biography of Pepys but
has a narrative that is sometimes surprising and full of anecdotes and memorable information. It is no gamble. Reading it is a very safe bet.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Jenny Uglow on Charles II, 14 April 2013
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An excellent read - history at its most approachable. Fascinating insight into the life and court of Charles II and his families. Uglow is a compelling writer and this pacey historical account reads with the ease of great fiction!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant account of a complex monarch, 28 April 2011
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Mike Davey (St Georges, Telford) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Gambling Man (Paperback)
I have read other books by Jenny Uglow and find her one of the best authors of popular historical analysis that there is. This account of the first decade of Charles as king is stunning. The monarch had quite a life before he actually became king: civil war, an executed father, hiding from Cromwells' troops, escape abroad and exile: then a triumphant return to the throne.

The author's skill lies in setting out all the relevant information and making it actually exciting as well as very interesting. She weaves a great deal of detail into the account but tempers it with warmth and great interest, including short excerpts from Pepys diary, which is so well integrated into the narrative.

As has already been pointed out, the Gambling Man of the title is inspired: Charles did play his cards carefully, whether it be with politics or religion - or to some extent, with his mistresses. The author is especially adept at outlining all the negotiations with Holland, Spain, France and the clever balancing act required - and the gambling that went into much of it.

The illustrations are also some of the best I have seen in an account of this type. Altogether a stunning book and one I will re-read. This has also led me to re-read Claire Tomalin's excellent account of Samuuel Pepys, a worthy companion volume.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A 'Rambling' Man, 9 July 2011
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Miss Mapp (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Gambling Man (Paperback)
In spite of being really interested in the period of the Restoration, I found that the trouble with this book is that it is written like a PhD thesis. A good editor should have shortened it by at least a third. Jenny Uglow has obviously done an admirable amount of research, and wanted to get as much of it as possible into the book come what may. This means that much of the book is spent on detailed descriptions of the lives of sometimes quite peripheral people. Charles II is a fascinating subject, and a colourful King, but I had trouble finding him here; so much irrelevant background was included that he began losing his fascination for me by about page 80. I would recommend this book only to readers who have many hours to spare to read about the 'second division' characters surrounding Charles.
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A Gambling Man
A Gambling Man by Jenny Uglow (Paperback - 6 May 2010)
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