Thursday 24 November 2016

Book Review: The History of England Vol. III - Civil War by Peter Ackroyd

Title: The History of England Vol. III: Civil War
Author: Peter Ackroyd 
Publisher: Pan 
Publication Date: 2015 (2014) 
Pages: 470 
Format: Paperback 
Genre: Non-Fiction/History 
Source: Gift

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In Civil War, Peter Ackroyd continues his dazzling retelling of England's history, painting a vivid portrait of the Stuart kings, from the accession of James I to the ignominious exile of his grandson James II. In it, Ackroyd lays before us the turbulent seventeenth century, most especially the civil war which led to the killing of the hapless Charles I and the despotic reign of England's only dictator, Oliver Cromwell.

But here, too, is the cultural and social life of the period, notable for its extraordinarily rich literature, including Shakespeare's late masterpieces, Jacobean tragedy, the poetry of John Donne and Milton and Thomas Hobbes' great philosophical treatise, Leviathan. Above all, Ackroyd gives us a very real sense of ordinary English men and women, living their lives against a backdrop of constant disruption and uncertainty.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

Another compelling chapter in Peter Ackroyd's History of England, Civil War introduces a period with which I was less familiar than those book-ending it, having often skipped the Stuarts in my previous reading. Therefore, I found it fascinating. As ever, Ackroyd's prose is immensely readable and clear, and perusing the pages feels like reading a novel rather than a ponderous history text. Sometimes in this series I do wish for a few more cited references in addition to the general "further reading" lists, but that is a minor complaint about an excellent series. I look forward to volume four.


  1. I really enjoy learning about history so this is one I will be seeing if I can get my hands on. I'm glad you found it to be a great read that wasn't overly dry like some history books can be.
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

  2. I've heard great things about Peter Ackroyd but haven't read anything by him yet, though I definitely should! And like you, I've often skipped the Stuarts as well and am not as familiar with English history as I probably should be, so I will definitely check this one out! Thanks for sharing this one :D
    Juli @ A Universe in Words

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