Sunday, 29 November 2009

In a Free Republic

Okay, so I have masses of books that I've read before this one (just finished it) to review still, but never mind. By Alison Plowden, I picked it up because I'd got interested in the English Civil War (Cavaliers and Roundheads variety) and I wanted to know what happened afterwards. While I get the impression that this is a very interesting period in history, with all the religious disturbances, the change to a Commonwealth, then Protectorate, then Commonwealth, then restoration of the King, I found this book quite poor. It was badly organised, that was one of the main problems. Things weren't told in even a vaguely logical order. There were references to a particular royalist uprising, but then later references to apparantly the same thing seemed to suggest it happened after Oliver Cromwell's death, while the initial description seemed to suggest it was while he was still alive. The reasons for the Protectorate were mostly dealt with succinctly, but when you start to find information about the medicinal practices of the time in a chapter about (or at least allegedly so) Coffee Houses and Witches. It was partially in chronological order, partially in a vague sort of topic order, which had the effect that it was difficult to follow clearly and I cannot imagine trying to find information in that book with regard to any specific topic. It really was quite all over. So I was very disappointed that such an interesting topic was so poorly covered. I wouldn't recommend it, though I would certainly like to know more about the period. Oh, the other thing that confused/annoyed me was that at the end of the book when it was talking (in very brief terms) about the Restoration, you initially got the impression they were talking about Charles II! And of course, he'd had his head chopped off... So if anyone happens to know of a good book about this period, I'd appreciate it if you could let me know. It's just hard to find books on something like this when your local library, despite having two and a half bookcases full of WWII books, has less than a shelf on the English Civil War... I'm sure there're some in storage somewhere, but I don't really like browsing books on the library catalogue (particularly as when I was looking for books on WWI aviation it brought up nothing, and when I've searched for English Civil War, it's come up with books on the American Civil War instead. Humph. Anyway, it wasn't a great book by any stretch of the imagination.

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