Oliver Cromwell: God's Warrior and the English Revolution Paperback – Jul 19 2011
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'The author's expertise in military history gives a distinctive flavour to the book...and strikes a balance between recent biographies.' -Mike Braddick, TLS
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There is one area of the book, that was left to the readers imagination. Gentiles is unable to deliver, a feel for the current events of that time. He simply lists the events, without any descriptions or background information. One example was the cancellation of Christmas celebrations. Gentiles simply noted the event, and stated that many people ignored the ban. I would have also welcomed, some information regarding the public sentiment. The majority of English people, supported a return to the Monarchy after Cromwell`s death. Why was Cromwell unable, to muster more widespread support for an English Republic? These and many other questions, are left unanswered.
This book is a reasonable introduction to Cromwell`s life. However, a quick reference on Wikipedia, may provide a more convenient alternative.
The book can be divided into two parts, with the first offering readers a narrative account of Cromwell's life up to the execution of the king in 1649, while the second half continues the story but is interspersed with thematic chapters examining Cromwell's religion, his finances and his tastes and interests. Gentles describes Cromwell as a 'fundamentally decent person' (in apparent agreement with Clarendon) but includes the caveat that Cromwell's career was blotted by his anti-Catholicism, a claim that could also be made about many of the Lord Protector's fellow countrymen in the seventeenth century. On Cromwell the soldier, Gentles refuses to equate him with his contemporary Gustavus Adolphus or with the likes of Julius Caesar, Alexander or Napoleon. There is much praise for Cromwell's organizational and motivational skills on the battlefield, but Gentles argues that despite Cromwell's important role at Marston Moor, Naseby and his victories in Ireland and Scotland, his relatively brief military service was but a 'temporary vocation' (130).Read more ›
But the British people still preferred monarchy after many years of Cromwell. Nevertheless, the monarchy in Britain never returned to the way it was before Cromwell's reforms. Gentles points out how many of Cromwell's changes remained after his death.
I found myself thinking of the similarity with the American puritans who only 120 years later began their own war against the Crown. However, George Washington was not such a politician as Cromwell, so the American saga turned out differently, with the hindsight the Americans gained from Cromwell's successes and mistakes.
If you have little or no knowledge of Cromwell, this is a good book to start with. Gentles, unlike many others, doesn't get bogged down in mountains of detail, but selects the right ones to make a true portrait of his complex subject. After reading this, you may have a bit more sympathy for Cromwell as I did, but nevertheless, he was a tyrant if a somewhat likeable one.
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