The English Civil War: A People?s History

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9780007150618: The English Civil War: A People?s History

A remarkable popular history of the English Civil War, from the perspectives of those involved in this most significant turning point in British history.

This compelling history of the English Civil War, culminating in the execution of Charles I, brings to life the people who fought in it, died in it, and in doing so changed the history of the world forever. Drawing on exciting new sources including letters, memoirs, ballads, plays, illustrations and material from private collections, Purkiss tells the story of this critical era not just in terms of the battle of ideas, but as the histories of the people who conceived them.

Purkiss peoples her book with fascinating, rich characters: from the obstinate king to his articulate opponents such as John Milton and Lord Saye; from those whose reputations were made on the back of this violent and brutal war such as Oliver Cromwell, Lady Eleanor Davies, witchfinders and revolutionaries; and ultimately the ordinary men who fought the wars and the ordinary women that lived with its tragedies.

The civil war's dramatic glories and its limitations not only changed the lives of those who lived through those troubled times, but continue to have a hold on our lives today. The resolution of fundamental questions about the values that society holds dear are still the guiding principles of our social and political organisation.

This important book uncovers forgotten lives and illustrates incisively the critical contribution of this extraordinary period in English history to contemporary politics and society.

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Review:

‘rich, vivid and passionate…a moving, lyrical and principled piece of writing…Purkiss has a gift for evocation..the battles of Edgehill and Newbury are thrillingly staged.’ The Independent

‘Diane Purkiss's study of the English civil war is a rich one. For it is here…that you begin to get close to what it would have been like to live through the nine momentous years from 1640 to 1649…it would be hard to imagine anything more irresistible than this rich layer cake of a book, crammed with the stories and the voices that make history human.’ The Guardian

‘Purkiss has an eye for the narrative vignette that can illuminate the age.’ Sunday Times

‘Her vivid descriptions of the key battles at Marston Moor and Naseby are shocking and terrifying in their graphic detail of the suffering inflicted by canon, musket and pike…”The English Civil War” is a substantial book, elegantly written, meticulous in its detail and scrupulous in the sympathetic attention it pays to the voices it records.’ Literary Review

‘Light in touch, though grounded in an enormous wealth of documentary material this "people's history" shows how England's men and women coped with quite extraordinary times.’ The Scotsman

‘Worthy and engaging, full of entertaining nuggests.’ Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Telegraph

About the Author:

Diane Purkiss is Fellow and Tutor at Keble College, Oxford. She was formerly Professor of English at Exeter University. She is the author of the highly acclaimed ‘The Witch in History’, and ‘Troublesome Things: A History of Fairies and Fairy Stories’.

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