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4.6 out of 5 stars
36
4.6 out of 5 stars
Gentry: Six Hundred Years of a Peculiarly English Class
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on 14 February 2012
This was a very interesting and informative book, well worth reading. Nicholson maintains our interest throughout and the research has been very thorough. With hindsight some descendants must be furious that their ancestors, in some instances, were so profligate with their estates.
Very worth buying.
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on 14 October 2012
Since reading 'The Gentry' I have recommended it to several people. If you are at all interested in British history - particularly, English history, and how England has been shaped, preserved and developed, this is a 'must' read.

As I live in China I first read it on my Kindle, but have subsequently bought a 'real' copy to keep on my shelf.
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on 26 September 2017
I love social histories and this one is particularly enthralling, jammed with anecdotes and delightful English quirkiness.
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on 11 April 2017
awesome
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on 12 August 2017
Insightful and understanding account.
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on 17 July 2017
Great read thank you.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 September 2012
I must admit to only coming across this book by accident and as I thoroughly enjoyed the author's Sissinghurst I thought I'd give it a try. I'm very glad I did. Mr Nicolson delves into the family histories and presents us with a very readable, humorous and engaging read. A measure of the author's success is that I ended up having a great deal of sympathy for people I was determined not to like at first, not being overly fond of "toffs" as it were. The author has visited all the demesnes (always wanted to use that word) of the families concerned and brings the histories to life by relating them to present day activity. Whilst the book is obviously about the "Upstairs" I would have liked a little more about the "Downstairs" but that is my only, perhaps overly harsh, criticism and lets face it there are plenty other books about that. I suppose that the success of Downton Abbey could open up this book's readership and I sincerely hope it does, as it provides a valuable history lesson for those dazzled by the TV drama.
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on 28 October 2013
Absolutely fascinating introduction to all sorts of information about so many different ages and families. This book gave an experience of real people and real life.
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on 7 November 2011
Every now and then someone sits down and writes a book on a peripheral subject that brings it into brilliant focus, totally accessible to, and enjoyable for, the general public. In sociology, an earlier equivalent might be Mark Girouard's Life in the English Country House.
Here Adam Nicolson illuminates the superficially dry subject of the gentry - the minor squires, squeezed between the overmighty nobles and the social oblivion of the yeomen farmers - who over the past 500 years have struggled to hold on to their place in the world.
Sounds dull? Not in this book, where he has taken a representative group from each era, incidentally taking us on a tour d'horizon of the major events of their day: the Wars of the Roses, Reformation, Armada, Civil War, American revolution, the Victorian bonanza and the Second World War.
By definition each family is seen spotlit while struggling with some major crisis, and the drama is so well presented that the reader is drawn into each family's battle for survival.
Very highly recommended.
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on 4 July 2013
A spectacular and amazing book.

Nicolson takes the stories of various gentry families active during various times from the 1410s to the present day and uses a combination of meticulous research, beautiful writing and the ability to tell a good story to bring their lives, relationships and concerns vividly to life, capturing small details and personal testimonies and seeming to revel in the process himself.

The written documents are highlighted as an amazing source of information, perfectly preserved in all its details, and the families are placed within their context and social history. The book as a whole is moving, honest, not extrapolating past the sources into "must have felt" this and "should have done that", and letting the voices of the subject shine through - the best kind of history writing, in my opinion. Flexible like the families about notions of gentry, but also looking at how that term has been defined over the centuries. It brings us right up to date in the last chapters, skillfully weaving the experiences of the modern-day gentry into their context and history. Magnificent.
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