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The King's War, 1641-1647 (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 26 Jul 2001
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About the Author
Dame Veronica Wedgwood was born in 1910 and educated in London, France, Germany and at Oxford University. She was awarded the Order of Merit in 1969. A prolific writer, her books include THE KING'S PEACE 1637-41 and THE TRIAL OF CHARLES I also published in Penguin Classic History. Professor Sir John Plumb wrote of Dame Veronica that 'Her gifts are splendid and altogether exceptional. She is a great craftswoman and a great writer.'
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The King's War is the companion volume to 'The King's Peace'. After reading the first, I rushed to the bookstore to grab this title. Both are extremely well written, reading with the pace of a novel, though densely packed with a wide variety of sources.
After an outstanding introduction to the land, the age, and the principal characters who feature in the narrative, the author launches into the narrative. Her focus is very much on political events, and military ones. This is grand history in the classical style. Though society at large is never ignored, with numerous references to prmary sources amongst the townsfolk, common men and soldiers and newspapers of the time, Ms. Wedgewood does not look for structural explanations for the war. Individuals are very much the driving forces behind events, though her grasp of the social and economic effects of the war are sound.
All in all, anyone looking for a good read can certainly find it here. For those looking to study the civil war in depth, this might well be the best place to start - they will find here both an excellent narrative of important events as well receive the added bonus of having their immaginations stirred, raising the motivation to delve deeper into the momentous events of the time.
A final note: One certainly does not feel that there is any bias in Ms. Wedgwood's narrative, but the focus on the whole tends to be on the King's party. Hence the title.
Unashamedly narrative history with a strong eye to the individual characters of the war this is an old book that one can keep reading. As well as analysis there is plenty of drama and even tragedy; I think especially of her description of Prince Rupert riding towards York, not knowing that he was never again to experience victory.
I like the fact that I now know that shagpoll and shagamuffin were terms of abuse. An excellent place to start if you want to understand why the 17th century is so hard to understand.