Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (64)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. So here's a thing I'm looking forward to: Rebellion: The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution, by Peter Ackroyd (Thomas Dunne Books, 21 October 2014).

From the accession of the thrillingly unappealing James VI & I, who though rather ghastly, was also extraordinarily eloquent, to his hapless heir, Charles I, whose taste in art was peerless, but whose political judgment was so fatally poor, to Oliver Cromwell, far from pretty, ruthless and, ultimately, as much of a despot as "that man of blood," the king he executed, Ackroyd tells the story of the turbulent seventeenth century, in which England suffered through three civil wars - two fought between Parliament and both Charles I and Charles II, and, finally, the "Glorious Rebellion of 1688," which saw Charles II's brother James deposed and sent into exile.

Civil War doesn't just give us the brutality of politics and war. It also gives us glimpses of the extraordinarily rich literature of the time - Jacobean tragedy, Shakespeare's late masterpieces, the sermons of Dr. Donne and Lancelot Andrewes, Milton, Hobbes - and of ordinary life, lived against a backdrop of constant disruption and uncertainty.


I've quite enjoyed the first two volumes. My husband found the first one confusing, since it was organized more thematically than chronologically, but I was able to follow it just fine, and I really liked the discussion of ordinary life interspersed with the more usual chronicle of kings and wars. So I expect this one will be equally entertaining and informative.

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