on 30 June 2011
Designed for the AQA A2 History Unit 3 exam paper, this is a fairly competent attempt at covering the 1642-1689 period. In its favour, it links closely with the syllabus (as you would expect for a text "exclusively endorsed by AQA"), has helpful timelines and some good illustrations and maps. However towards the end it has the feel of a 'rush job,' with plenty of extended quotes from other authors covering the pages. This can make it difficult to follow the narrative. The section on 1653-58 is also laid out in quite a confusing manner for anyone not already familiar with the basic story, as it examines theories of government first. This leads to a discussion about the Humble Petition and Advice appearing before an appraisal of the major-generals - i.e. in the wrong chronological order and so tricky for the unfamiliar. Taking opposition to Cromwell as Lord Protector before any real coverage of Cromwell's policies also strikes one as odd. It's also written in quite a dry and uninspiring style and for those who have studied the companion AQA AS-Level Britain 1625-42, this book is certainly inferior to Farr's earlier work for that part. Other books cover this pivotal period in British History in more easily-digestible and inspiring form, but I suspect that this text is the one most students will rely on as it is linked so closely to their A-Level course. Hopefully a range of other authors will also play their part in developing students' understanding of this period, notably David Smith, Ian Gentles, Peter Gaunt, Barry Coward, John Miller, Michael Lynch, Christopher Hill, Tim Harris, John Morrill and Ronald Hutton.
on 7 September 2014
This book was quite difficult to follow in class because the facts are not presented in chronological order. When learning about an unfamiliar period in history, it is often essential to have a clear chronological understanding in order to get the facts straight in your mind. In this book, information was repeating twice in different sections of the book. Therefore when you're less familiar with the course (or before you begin exam revision), it is easy to get confused and think these are separate events.
Additionally, although most of the essential information is presented clearly and concisely, it often feels like there is not enough information for an A-Level course, and it is best to consult other books to flesh out your understanding of what is actually going on.
However, this book was colourful and clearly presented so the information that is there is easy to understand and follow. There are also several historians with excellent quotations all through the book which is essential to the course.
Although I got 100% ums in the exam I would not put my success down to this book.