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on 27 April 2013
I am sure that somewhere in this book there is an interesting story but one has to wade through treacle to find it and in the end I gave up. Oh for a good editor in this case.
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on 23 September 2010
If like me you know very little about our own Civil War and would like to learn more this is £9 190 pages and 5 hours well spent. I'm an avid reader of history but this subject just doesn't get me going but I'm very pleased with my purchase despite that.

Well written engaging and thankfully short, I nearly bought a 900 page monster on the Civil War and was glad I didn't this is perfect for the passer by - recommended.
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on 1 September 2016
Having a passing interest in - but little understanding of - the English Civil Wars, I started reading this as a self-improving Book for Bedtime one night, which backfired as I was still going 70 odd pages later. Captivating and written with great economy of language, this is the kind of book you wish you had been given at school. All the important events and characters along with the motivations of the various factions are laid out in a clear and straightforward manner that for once, having finished the book, I can actually remember.
I am reliably informed by those in the know, that this represents the gold standard for clear introductions to a hideously complicated period of British (and Irish) history. It certainly helped me. Excellent stuff.
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on 24 August 2010
The book has been well researched by the author and it shows in the wealth of detail and facts. It is complex in the sense it is not casual reading and you have to dedicate time to read this book which will be rewarded as you begin to understand the politics and the wheeling and dealing that went on over almost 20 years. It does not go into detail about the actual battles themselves, so perhaps if that is what you want from this book you'd be dissapointed. However if you are wanting to find out the reasons and the background to these turbulent times in English history this is a definite for your collection. It is well written.
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on 30 June 2010
There have been several "short" books about the English Civil Wars in the last year- by John Miller and David Clark for instance. To aim to write a short account of such a momentous event (with such a voluminous, lengthy, library filling back catalogue) can be seen either as a nice counterbalance to all those thick academic tomes or as a foolish enterprise, guaranteed to short change even the general reader. So Blair Worden could be on a hiding to nothing. How can he possibly cram in everything thats necessary?
Well, in truth he can't but this book is an unflashy, but impressively written account thats answers the questions a general reader might want to ask- what caused the war? why did Charles 1 lose? (oops sorry- gave away the ending there)- and it isn't done in a reductive Horrible Histories sort of way.
Unsurprisingly, Worden is rather sharp not only in referring to recent research but also inproviding some eye- catching points. Ship Money for example- an unpopular tax, but one that ended up funding a navy that fought against him in the war. Worden states that as a proportion of the population this civil war may have killed more than our losses in World War One. Provocative stuff.
He is particuarly ambitious to take the book right through until 1660 and includes a useful bibliography. All in all Wordens book is a triumph in giving such a good account, of religious struggles, political manoeuvering;
military supply and individuals in simple straightfoward prose. As a starting point in could hardly be bettered but those who think they know this war can learn a thing or two as well. A well executed addition to any civil war library, if you forgive the pun...
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VINE VOICEon 14 February 2016
Despite its title this book concerns itself with much more than the various military campaigns between 1640 and 1660. In a calm and ordered fashion it passes through the various groups who by their polarised views held and then lost power. If Charles and Archbishop Laud had too narrow a platform to command success it remains ironic that Kingship and the Anglican church survived and ultimately triumphed, perhaps benefiting from being so heavily defeated in the first decade. Quite how it all happened is laid out for all to see by the author who (per Pascal) has taken the time to write a short book.
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on 4 April 2009
This is history as it should be written - clear, enjoyable, concise. For the first time I understand why they felt they needed to execute Charles I, and indeed the difference between the various Parliaments (Long, Short, Rump etc)of the time. Admirable.
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on 17 March 2009
A slim book that provides an excellent explanation of the English Civil Wars. If you want to understand the whys and wherefores of that period, this is for you. We see our modern ideas here and there but scattered around all parties and always bundled with what seems weird to us. Freedom of religion? Absolutely - that's provided you're not Catholic or Anglican. The book shows the whole period provides a classic example of the law of unintended consequences and reinforces the idea that Cromwell is the last person who should be commemorated outside Parliament, given his attitude towards it.
My one issue is that it's not strong on the narrative of events - you get a great explanation of why X happened, but the fact that X DID happen kind of gets taken as read. I guess if one wanted a strong narrative history as well, then the book would have got much bigger.
Buy it for an excellent, short, clear explanation - and the depressing conclusion that, in the end, nothing much came out of that period.
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on 2 March 2014
I wanted to read about the main encounters and the personalities involved on both sides. Sadly less than 20% of the book was about the wars themselves.
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VINE VOICEon 20 September 2014
Concise and to the point, this is an erudite work which gives a brief overview of the twenty period from 1640-1660. If you want to read about battles, then this book is not for you, but it is a valuable step to those who wish to broaden their knowledge of this traumatic period.
It is short and inexpensive. A really good buy.
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