on 17 June 2007
Eric Evans. An established authority on British history, particularly in the 19th Century. I have absolutely no idea how this horrific turn of events occurred, and I have not found any evidence in this book to suggest I will either.
All this book covers is the historiography of chartism. It fails to actually explain many of the events that Evans bangs on about page after page. One section of the book (supposedly) about the Chartist's relationship with the Trade Unions had me ripping my hair, my eyes and indeed, the pages of said book, out because it was the most incomprehensible nonsensical waffle that rambled along to not point nor intelligible conclusion whatsoever. Evans frequently referred to the strikes of 1842 but fails to actually explain what they were, why they broke out, who was and and who wasn't in favour of them.
No instead, Eric is more in favour of citing other historians views for no reason other than he cannot be bothered to come up with his own.
Here's some examples of his ramblings:
"when one remembers that those m/c figures prepared to have anything to do with the complete suffrage movement represented the most conciliatory and accommodating elements, the validity of the chartist perception that success could come only from with may readily be seen". I have not edited this or cut it short. Seen as WHAT exactly Eric? Furthermore, there was nothing that he mentioned earlier to actually link this point to, which would clear things up slightly. Its almost as if he went to make a sandwich, talked to his cat for a bit and just forgot what he was banging on about.
Earlier, Eric gave me some helpful advice:
"instead of writing 'Chartism' every time, why not have 'Chrt'? For 'Feargus O'Connor', have 'O'Cnr'. Remember though, that Daniel O'Connel was another irish radical contemporary. many students mix them up in exam answers so keep the abbreviated terms seperate, eg. 'OCnl'" oh how clear. Dammit, I always write about O'Connel as the biggest and most prominent leader of the Chartist movement! Shucks! What angers me still is that this was the ONLY mention of O'Connel in the whole book. So how one can get him confused with O'Connor when there is no mention of the guy I have no idea. Oh and for the record, I tend to use "FOC", Eric...
On other interpretations - and yes I know I said that this is all the book does, but Eric still believed it was necessary to devote a whole chapter in name alone to this purpose:
"this book itself presents an interpretation about Chartism, of course. The author has done a fair bit of rummaging around Chartist sources himself over the years. His own judgement on O'connor, for what it is worth, is less favourable than that of the historians quoted".
Fair enough, but 'rummaging'? Eric. You're a leading historian. You're moderating these A2 exams. You're someone that as a budding historian I'm meant to look up through. Rummaging implies that you're looking through your attic for a photoalbum, not a bloody interpretation.
Apparently (if the title is anything to go by), this is "History In Depth". All I have learnt from this book is different interpretations of a movement which I have no idea about because this in itself was not explained. This would not be an issue if there was a companion book to cross reference with, but perhaps Eric didn't get round to that yet.
To try and make this review constructive, just don't buy this book. Buy "Chartism" by Richard Brown. Suddenly, things made sense.