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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine study, 17 Dec. 2008
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Junius (London, Middlesex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: George II: Puppet of the Politicians? (Exeter Studies in History) (Hardcover)
George II has either been neglected or ridiculed by historians, often using a narrrow range of sources. This book rectifies this, though George II had been reconsidered in 1973 by John Owen and this book builds on this and other recent works. As we would expect from an author of this calibre, the book draws extensively on manuscript sources and shows a strong grasp of diplomacy and foreign policy - which George II also possessed. It is of course difficult to write about a King who left so little correspondence, unlike his grandson, George III, but much can be gained from the insights offered by George's ministers, and this book does exactly that. George II ruled as well as reigned and George III was, in many ways, no innovator in his personal style of government. There is also much about the nature of monarchy and comparisons with the King's Continental contemporaries.

There are a few minor quibbles. The Duke of Cumberland is referred to as both George II's second son and his third (he was his third)and he is referred to as a being a baby in 1727 (aged six). There is not much about the Jacobite critique of George II, or an assessment of how vulnerable the throne was in 1745 (in the author's Culloden and the '45, the inference was that it was very insecure, but this book doesn't explore this). It also might be worth mentioning the King's reported eagerness to lead his troops at Finchley against the Jacobite army.

Comments about the King by humbler contemporaries might have been included - Thomas Turner, shopkeeper, refers to the King as being the 'parent of this island' (Fanny Burney was to describe George III as Father of his people in 1820) and anti-Gin rioters in the 1730s reportedly shouted 'No Gin, No King'; clearly identifying the monarch with Walpole's unpoular policy.

There is a chapter about Britain in the early eighteenth century which doesn't seem to add much, and, since George II's key interest was in foreign policy, a sketch of European diplomatic relations and military balance might have been better.

There are no pictures in this book. The map of Europe is split down the middle and that is where Hanover is.

A couple of typos - a reference to MHC, when HMC is meant, and a page ref. p.000.

However, these fairly minor points do not detract from what is a major achievement, which adds much to our knowledge of this often downgraded sovereign. It should be read by A level students and above, as well as the general reader. Unlikely to be bettered in the foreseeable future.
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George II: Puppet of the Politicians? (Exeter Studies in History)
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