Sunday, 15 June 2008

Book Reviews

I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight two of the best history books I have read recently.

Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600 - 1947 (Christopher Clark).

An excellent book whose imperious narrative on Prussian history is never less than fascinating. Cultural movements, religion, economics and politics all have their place, but the book comes alive when discussing the giants of the period, Frederick the Great and Bismark, and when describing the great wars of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth century which shaped Germany. Highly recommended.

The Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660 (Trevor Royle).

Royle's masterwork begins on the bloody field of Lutzen before back-tracking to outline the background to the conflicts which rocked Britain and Ireland during the mid-Seventeenth century. From the outset he attempts to place the conflict in its wider European context and, crucially, to show how the war raged the length and breadth of the British Isles. Throughout he paints some memorable scenes, from Marston Moor to the Putney debates, from Montrose's miracles to Charles' execution.

Absurdly the title 'The War of the Three Kingdoms' discourages some people. It is seen as a 'PC' alternative to 'The English Civil War'. Utter madness. There were three kingdoms involved in the conflict. Get over it. But do get Royle's book which succeeds in being both entertaining and highly informative. An awesome read.

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