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Great Battles: Edgehill 1642 Paperback – 11 Dec 1995

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; New Ed edition (11 Dec. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0900075341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0900075346
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.1 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 925,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This book does not earn its five stars because it is the best book on the English Civil War, nor even because it is the best on Edgehill (it probably is not) - but because at the time it was a radical departure, and the basis from which which a generation learned to think about 1642-1646. Brigadier Peter Young was a university educated war hero of the Second World War who was one of the few soldiers of the twentieth century to write well about the past - AH Burne was another - and 'Edgehill' was the start of a popular phenomena.

Young's approach to the Civil War was new to his generation, born of a curious naivete, but to be honest was in some ways almost Victorian. Find all the sources you can, especially lists of armies, then transcribe them carefully, or pay someone so to do - then bang them together in a lavishly produced hard back with illustrations. In the course of doing this Young also came up with what many still regard as the 'standard format' for a book on a Civil War battle: information on armies, infantry, cavalry, artillery, then something on the 'approach march', then a very brief description of the actual action, and finally reprints of sources covering a third, half, or even more of the pages. This basic format would serve Young well for two decades - all the way through from 'Edgehill', to 'Naseby' in 1985, taking in Marston Moor and others on the way. These books became the veritable bibles of the 'Sealed Knot' - the re-enactment society formed by Young himself, which was arguably the genesis of all UK modern re-enactments, and by extension one of the basis for 'living history'.

In truth, Edgehill, and the other Young books in the Roundwood series are not particularly analytical.
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Format: Hardcover
This book does not earn its five stars because it is the best book on the English Civil War, nor even because it is the best on Edgehill (it probably is not) - but because at the time it was a radical departure, and the basis from which which a generation learned to think about 1642-1646. Brigadier Peter Young was a university educated war hero of the Second World War who was one of the few soldiers of the twentieth century to write well about the past - AH Burne was another - and 'Edgehill' was the start of a popular phenomena.

Young's approach to the Civil War was new to his generation, born of a curious naivete, but to be honest was in some ways almost Victorian. Find all the sources you can, especially lists of armies, then transcribe them carefully, or pay someone so to do - then bang them together in a lavishly produced hard back with illustrations. In the course of doing this Young also came up with what many still regard as the 'standard format' for a book on a Civil War battle: information on armies, infantry, cavalry, artillery, then something on the 'approach march', then a very brief description of the actual action, and finally reprints of sources covering a third, half, or even more of the pages. This basic format would serve Young well for two decades - all the way through from 'Edgehill', to 'Naseby' in 1985, taking in Marston Moor and others on the way. These books became the veritable bibles of the 'Sealed Knot' - the re-enactment society formed by Young himself, which was arguably the genesis of all UK modern re-enactments, and by extension one of the basis for 'living history'.

In truth, Edgehill, and the other Young books in the Roundwood series are not particularly analytical.
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Format: Paperback
This is a classic book, and paved the way for much later ECW scholarship. Its focus on the military issues and its reference back to the sources reminds us that the Civil War was about fighting (easy to forget in a "War and Society" style of book), and also that good history works from the sources.

The principal strengths of the book are the inclusion of the sources used as an appendix, & the detailed analysis of the order of battle. Neither of these has been surpassed since the publication of the book.

Alas, so much of the rest of the book has been overtaken by more recent scholarship, - Wanklyn's "Decisive Battles" for example will give you a better account of the battle itself.

Furthermopre the book contains many traps for the unwary. The Brigadier declares at the start of the book that he is a Royalist at heart, but that he hopes he is able to prevent this bias "destroying my critical faculties". In this he fails. In any section where a matter of judgement or opinion is expressed the reader should beware. Prince Rupert can do no wrong, the Earl of Essex no right. Given the superiority of the command and troops on the Royalist side as Young sees it the reader would wonder how the forces of Parliament (or "Rebels" as Young persists in calling them) managed to survive the battle at all.

So a three star rating, - an important book, but one which only provides part of the understanding required. Any serious student of the period needs to read this book and understand it, but also understand that it is not, by any stretch, the whole story.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x89d62318) out of 5 stars 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x898fcb28) out of 5 stars A readable but dated account of the battle 27 Aug. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Peter Youngs book was the first detailed account of the first major battle of the English Civil War.
Although a lot of new information has come to light the book is worth purchasing because of the deatailed lists of the officers in the various regiments that took part in the battle and the reproduction of a number of original tracts relating to Edgehill.
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