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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic profile of an overlooked period
The period surrounding the passing of the Great Reform Act 1832 is often overlooked due to its seemingly dull core of electoral administration and reform. However, as Antonia Fraser expertly shows in this work, nothing could be further from the truth.

Fraser's success in this work is threefold. Firstly, she describes with great aplomb the social upheavals and...
Published 19 months ago by Huw Davies

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic in Parts.
This book was received with great acclaim and in some ways it merits it. There is certainly nothing about the 1832 Reform Act that a general reader would want to know that is omitted.The characters of the time, especially Grey and Wellington emerge quite clearly. On the other hand, as the author acknowledges, the Act was only a beginning: a small addition to the number...
Published 19 months ago by Michael S


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent well-written book, 14 Aug. 2013
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A clear, well-written account of the passage of this important bill. This certainly deepened (and refreshed) the knowledge I already had. It was particularly good to gain more understanding of why there was so much opposition to what was, on the face of it, such an obviously necessary reform.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well-written account of a fascinating niche in nineteenth century history, 19 Jun. 2013
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A very readable account of the progress of this important Bill through Parliament. Fraser paints in the necessary background of events, public feeling, institutional culture and the personal qualities of the main protagonists.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Within a moment of great rebellion", 25 May 2013
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
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Bubbling over with knowledge of the period, Antonia Fraser kindles our interest in what may seem a dry old piece of legislation by relating it to the events and personalities of the day. In a Parliament dominated by aristocrats, even the Whigs' desire to give some political representation to rapidly growing industrial cities like Birmingham was based on a pragmatic aim to avoid public revolt, after the grim precedent within living memory of the excesses of the French Revolution. Any thoughts of universal suffrage or a secret ballot were still the dangerous ideas of the "Radicals". It is startling to discover that the Reform Act only extended the franchise from 3.2% to 4.7% of the population!

Although other reviewers have praised the "novel-like" style of the book, I found the continual digressions into the family connections, appearances and verbatim comments of the main - and some minor - characters quite hard to digest. A glossary would have been really useful. More seriously, these often rambling discursions tended to get in the way of a proper understanding of the three Reform Bills which led to the 1832 Act itself. At no point does the book clearly explain exactly what was in each Bill and why. Neither is there a full explanation of the conditions which made the Reform Act necessary, with an indication of earlier efforts to improve the electoral system. Antonia Fraser's celebrity raises one's expectations, so that it is disappointing that this may also elevate her above being asked to submit her work to a thorough edit.

The book improved for me from Chapter 9, the point where England explodes into widespread riots after the Lords' first rejection of the Bill, largely because of opposition from the Bishops. To think how much ordinary people cared about it, when our latest widespread riots were largely about looting chain stores! Chapter 10 is particularly gripping with accounts of anarchy in Bristol, where soldiers held back out of sympathy for the mob. The official death toll was twelve, "but the number of rioters who died was probably more like 400". In view of some recent media scandals, I was struck by the scurrilous press attacks on the German Queen Adelaide who was thought to have influenced King William IV against reform. The extent of his power is intriguing - he could refuse to create the extra peers necessary to get the Bill passed. Yet, 180 years on, some continue to argue for the maintenance of unelected peers, and appointed lords still occupy key posts in our Government.....
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Surprisingly good read!, 5 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832 (Kindle Edition)
As a teenager this period I found incredlbly boring! Full marks for maki ng it a gripping read this time round.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An very enjoyable book on the history of the Great Reform Bill, 14 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832 (Kindle Edition)
An very enjoyable book on the history of the Great Reform Bill. Antonia Fraser does an admirable job of describing the personalities and events of this landmark event in British political history. The book gives a very clear picture of what it must have felt like to live through those times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 1832, 21 Dec. 2013
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An enthusiastic review caught my eye. I have always known 1832 was a key English date (our history master - see above) and the detail wit and personal portraits wovwn into the complex parliamentary and crown process were a delight.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 28 May 2013
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This review is from: Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832 (Kindle Edition)
I found it a very easy read written in a style which suits me. I suppose that it is well over 70 years since I learned about the reform act at school and then certainly in nothing like so much detail. A very interesting book
NR
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slowly slowy catchy monkey, 22 Jun. 2013
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This book is interesting as the subject was not covered at school and I think it should have been due to its importance in relation to how we run politics today. Antonia Fraser is an amazing writer from the point of view of the detail she reserches, this can be some what confusing and difficult to follow for long periods of reading. To be honest i have not finished this book, but read it a bit at a time, and read something else to be entertained in between
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3.0 out of 5 stars its ok but even though i love history i found it hard going, 27 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832 (Kindle Edition)
its ok but even though i love history i found it hard going . it may be accurate but there is far too much detail and this account is only for the true enthusiast.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Reform Bill made real, 21 May 2013
By 
Brian R. Martin (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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The story of the Great Reform Bill of 1832 has been told many times before, but I suspect few accounts can match this one by the well-known author of histories and novels, Antonia Fraser. It is relatively short, less than 300 pages, and written for the general reader, not professional historians, although it is clear that it is the result of considerable research, and there are plenty of references and sources quoted to back up the narrative.

It is a gripping story, when for a short time there was a serious danger that the anger of `the people' at the intransigence of the Tory dominated House of Lords in refusing to pass the Bill, that had been passed by the Commons with a substantial majority, and that clearly had the backing of the majority of the population, would boil over into real revolution, with even the possibility of the overthrow of the monarchy, as in France. Fraser sets out clearly the nature of the injustices that the Reform Bill was designed to remove: the abolition of `rotten boroughs', some of which had only a handful of constituents, bought and sold by powerful members of the aristocracy, often for vast sums of money; public voting; no representation of the new industrial cities; and many others.

She gives excellent portraits of the main politicians on either side the debate, above all the almost saintly Lord Grey, head of the Whig government, who fought on for many years until the battle was finally won, and he could retire to his beloved family and country life. But there were other important players. For example, on the Whig side, and so pro-Bill, there was Lord Durham, a relative of Grey, but a truculent character who in cabinet was a thorn in his side, but who played an important role in keeping Grey from possibly compromising over the Bill when King William IV prevaricated about appointing a large number of new peers to ensure the passage of the Bill through the upper chamber. Pre-eminent on the anti-Bill side there stood the giant and hero of the country, the Duke of Wellington, who seemed to seriously believe that civilization in England would collapse if the Bill were passed, but whose intemperate speeches opposing it only served to unite the opposition, particularly among the general population, whose restraint owed much to the leadership and common sense of commoners, such as Thomas Attwood, Francis Place and Joseph Parkes. The relationships between these various factions, the noblemen fighting the battles in Parliament and conducting tortuous negotiations with the King, and the leaders of the mass movements outside Parliament, are superbly brought out in this book.

The Reform Bill of 1832 was far from perfect, there was still under-representation of towns compared to the country, still a property requirement before one could vote, and of course no votes for women. But it was the first essential step to what eventually we would recognize today as democracy. We all owe much to Grey and the others for sticking to the principles of the Bill and steering the country through to victory without it descending into bloody conflict. Antonia Fraser gives the reader a real feeling for the players in the drama and the times they lived in.
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