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on 11 September 2011
Mark Stevens delivers a relatively well-written and researched exploration of life in Broadmoor in late-Victorian England. This book offers an insight into daily life inside the asylum and of the patients, inmates, and professionals for whom Broadmoor became such an important part of their lives. Common perceptions of the asylum system are often influenced by narrow and prescriptive interpretations of 'lunacy' and its 'treatments' during this period, and this text offers a more objective interpretation of events, whilst at the same time giving some 'flesh' to the personalities at work. The book is written in a sympathetic manner, devoid of sensationalism and overt subjectivity. There are some minor typos, and I did feel that the chapter on escape attempts was overlong; I would have preferred further insight into routines and institutional hierarchies, and perhaps further examination of some more of Broadmoor's inmates. However, this was an informative piece of good research, which was accessible and educational.
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on 5 November 2011
I purchased this for free on my Kindle, mistakenly thinking it would be a broad strokes description of victorian crime and punishment with a few details thrown in, assembled in a way that makes it easy to read and learn from.

It is actually more a list of very thoroughly researched case histories which, although they have interest and merit, does not a page-turner make.

The author writes well and has clearly put a lot of time and thought into the book though and as he states in the preface, he intends it to be a stepping stone for people who are interested in researching similar areas - something to start the discussion and whet your whistle if you intend to devote serious academic time to specific elements of the age and the system.

There isn't much about lunacy in this, despite the title. It mainly deals with petty criminals and people with mental illnesses we would recognise and easily treat today. It is quite a sad portrait at times, and the depth is fantastic, but it isn't an exciting read. The escapes section was my favourite part, all in all.
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on 4 September 2011
This is a book of vignettes, brief case histories of some of the many patients at this most prestigious institution. Some of the cases I was already familiar with, the majority were new to me. The author presents his information in considered and respectful way, never losing sight of the fact he is describing people's lives and misfortunes. It is a little lightweight, I was hoping for more depth, however a very good introduction to Broadmoor and 'jumping off point' for further reading, of which there is a good list at the end.
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on 5 September 2011
fantastic look at the history of broadmoor, i always looked at broadmoor as a scary place but the author makes the reader look at it from a different view and the stories of the different patients are very interesting, the escapes were quite funny! well done for a really good read!
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on 16 September 2011
I got this book on a free download.This isn't the sort of thing that i usually read but was soon hooked and found myself googling people mentioned as i worked through the book.
Lots of detail and a very worthwhile read.
Thanks to the author for what must have been a lot of research to bring us such an interesting book.
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VINE VOICEon 8 November 2011
an excellent book, really well written - and for free! It was a 'I don't really read this sort of thing' book for me - but I am very glad I did. It doesn't just feature the 'infamous' stories,like that of Victorian 'faery' painter, Richard Dadd, but covers also the ordinary man's struggles with mental illness. It deals with the inmates assessment process and treatment, their grading into different categories, their work, diet and leisure time. It also shows the staff in a new and often compassionate light, unlike the typical gothic horror that we think of as Victorian punishment. Although harsh by today's standards, this ebook makes for fascinating and compelling reading, and the author really draws you in, showing a fine flare for historical writing. I couldn't put it down, and therefore highly recommend it.
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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2011
This is a little book in terms of its length but in terms of subject matter it is vast, and one that could lead to further reading. Mark Stevens has access to the historic records of Broadmoor, as he is an archivist at the Berkshire Record Office.

What he has done, has allowed those who are fascinated by crime, the Victorian era and perhaps the historic placement of mental health in the wider world to dip in and out of a book which fills in so much about a hospital. From its inception, the book covers the structure of the buildings and the way they were set out with a few of the more well known Victorian inmates who were detained 'at pleasure'. Babies that were born into an institution through no fault of their own and many who decided that it would be the best place to escape from. It appears that insanity was seen by some 'career' criminals as an easy way to gain access to the outside world through the gates of Broadmoor.

Obviously there is only certain things that are covered in this book, it is short, but there are restrictions due to the age of records, and obviously the security of the place. This was a really interesting book and I learnt a lot from it, that it has piqued my interest and I then went and read more about the hospital. In a macabre sort of way a nice change to read some excellent non-fiction which sparked my interest.
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on 2 October 2011
Would like to say thank you to the author for sharing their research and also for free. An enjoyable look into some of the earliest inmates of Broadmoor. The book contains interesting stories about a handful of the patients, escape attempts and a bit more. Well worth downloading.
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on 25 February 2012
Before The Priory there was Broadmoor. Britain's first mental health institution to not be employ vaguely rational rehabilitation techniques, the institution is so famous that 'being sent to Broadmoor' is a well-known euphemism for going nuts.

In Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum, Mark Stevens has access to the Broadmoor archives and uses it to tell the story of how the institute was founded, as well as the sensational tales of some of its most famous occupants.

Attempted regicide plays a big part in the story, with James Hadfield's attempt on the life of George III (himself noted for being a bit doolally) playing a part in the hospital being founded. There's Edward Oxford who failed to amuse Queen Victoria by shooting at her; Richard Dadd, the painter/murderer; Edward Minor, who famous helped to write the first Oxford English Dictonary (before cutting off his own penis); and Christiana Edmunds who gave poisoned cakes to strangers, thereby laying the groundwork for what would eventually become Gregg's.

The stories are beautifully told and Stevens has a wonderful knack for giving life to every patient and doctor. Most strikingly, he captures how the ethos of Broadmoor was one of a genuine desire to cure and rehabilitate. It's quite surprising, as the normal view of Victorian mental health is one of patients being beaten with sticks while being told to pull themselves together.

In the prologue, Stevens says that this is a tester and if well-received, then he will write a longer book. El Dink's vote is: more please. This is a lovely little book, one of the finest gems to be made available free. We can't wait to read more.
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This is a great book for anyone who is interested in social history. The book covers how Broadmoor came into being, why it was needed to house those criminals who were insane and details on the medical men in charge.

There are chapters on some of the more famous victorian cases, babies born in Broadmoor along with those who tried to escape over the first few years. This book is well written and informative, particularly to the insight of how insanity was viewed during the Victorian times particularly in regards to crime. Well worth a read.
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