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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clearly written for intelligent readers interested in France, 26 Jan 2000
This review is from: Louis XIV (Hardcover)
The distinctive thing about this book is that it is clearly written , not for the professional historian or intellectual but for the average intelligent reader with an interest in French. This is partly due to Ian Dunlop's skilful and frequent use of contemporary sources. His characters are allowed to speak for themselves and this contributes much to the "atmosphere" Instead of giving his own views on the persecution of the Huguenots, he gives us the verbatim account of one of the victims of the dragonnades and one of those condemned to the slavery of the galleys. But although Ian Dunlop exposes all the cruelties, injustices and the disregard for the suffering of the poor, he also highlights the relatively few attempts to mitigate the latter. He seems to be reluctant to pass judgements but prefers to put his readers in a position to make their own. As an acknowledged expert on French architecture, Ian Dunlop uses this to bring to life the palaces of Versailles, Marly, Fontainebleau and Chambord and leaves us in little doubt that building was Louis' dominant passion. At a time when France was starving after a freak winter, humiliated by the victories of Marlnorough and facing a formidable crisis in her finances, over two and a half million livres were spent on the construction and decoration of the new Chapel at Versailles. Ian Dunlop sees Louis' true greatness as the enabler behind the brilliant achievements of the architects, musicians, artists and authors which justify the term "Le Grand Siecle" and brings it to life with his 24 pages of illustrations. His selection is interesting and often original and includes two of his own watercolours at Versailes and of Chantilly as the Grand Conde would have known it. For all visitors to Versailles, this book is a must !
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating. all encompassing view of Louis XIV, 5 Nov 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Louis XIV (Hardcover)
Ian Dunlop's book covers a period I studied at University twenty years ago and haven't revisited since. I was absolutely transfixed by the detail that I seemed to have glossed over at course level and his presentation of this subject is so accessible that I found myself discarding novels, newspapers, and magazines in order to be able to pursue this compelling history. Ian Dunlop obviously hugely admires his subject, but not without reason. His examination of the period through the writings of Louis' contemporaries is balanced and impressively researched; Mme de Sevigne, Saint-Simon et al. are commentators, but Louis' own journals and the correspondence of many politicians and courtiers form the basis of this text. The incredible facts and figures of the achievements of Louis' reign - all for the "gloire" of the King - sit alongside what would be judged now as insane religious persecution; over-ambitious military activity, and the desperate poverty and hardship of the nation that funded these achievements. I felt driven to visit and revisit many of the places mentioned as I was reading - I'll probably take the book with me when I next go to France as a reference. On a minor downside, the book lacks two quite crucial things that would assist the reader - a map of Western Europe, with particular detail of 17th/18th Century France, and a family tree of the Bourbons covered in the text. There is also a vast amount of military logistical detail which were a little beyond me. However, I very much hope that Ian Dunlop will continue his examination of this area - if he were to cover Louis XVI and the Revolution next, I would buy and devour it instantly.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For those with a Passion for the Subject, 15 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Louis XIV (Hardcover)
An entertaining visit to the Grand Siecle. This book is for the Louis X1V enthusiast. Ian Dunlop shares with the reader a word picture of Life at the Court of Louis, which brings enlightenment to those of us who scratch our heads in wonder when confronted with the awesome products of the reign.
The Magnificent and curiously sterile Chateau at Versailles, are brought to life byMr Duncan's insight into the Creation of the Chateau and its Parks. The Description of the King's ability to rebuke a Courtier by inviting his wife to Trianon-where she can only be accompanied by her husband on Special invitation, while refusing an invitation to visit Marly with the King when husbands automatically accompany their wives makes the devotees of Louis XIV,smile with pure pleasure.
The descriptions of the Kings building projects, are accompanied by a picture of how these magical places appear to today's visitors.
We go to Versailles and Fontainebleau and are perplexed by the changes brought about by the successors of Louis X1V- Ian Dunlop's splendid presentation makes the Past and the Present fuse together for the reader. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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Louis XIV
Louis XIV by Ian Dunlop (Hardcover - 21 Oct 1999)
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