For viewers of BBC One’s ‘Britain and the Sea’, ‘Leviathan’ is a must-read; overturning long-held beliefs about our ancestry and weaving together the disparate strands that made the fabric of the Empire.
The 350 years between the accession of the Tudors and the beginning of the Victorian era saw one of the great transformations of any nation in history: Britain emerged from its lowly position as European underdog to become the world's only maritime superpower. It was a period that saw the creation of Protestant kingdoms in England and Scotland, the gain and loss of American colonies and the beginnings of a new empire in Africa, India and Australasia. It is a slice of our past represented by some of the most compelling personalities to have graced the historical stage – Elizabeth I, Nelson, Cromwell and Byron amongst them.
In this wide-ranging yet succinct history, David Scott challenges some of our longest held beliefs in how Britain achieved its constitutional might. Where other histories have concentrated on a narrow chronology, 'Leviathan: A World of Ships and Men' encompasses a broad spectrum, tracing the connections made across time as never before.
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‘Thoughtful, entertaining and elegantly written … Amid the flood of new books on the making of the British Empire, Leviathan stands out as one of the best. Much of the book’s strength lies in its uncompromising insistence on the importance of institutions and politics … There are delightful character sketches and witty asides’ Sunday Times
‘Leviathan deserves to be widely read; Scott negotiates vast terrain with clear, lively prose and weaves his argument around vivid pen portraits and telling anecdotes … Above all this is a stirring narrative’ History Today
‘Sweeping and illuminating’ Financial Times
‘Challenging and erudite … perceptive … Scott is superb when he casts his eye on the culture of the times … [his] telling of this vast series of contingencies is masterful. Epic in scale, shrewd in judgement, utterly convincing, Leviathan demands the widest possible readership’ Literary Review
‘One of the best books on the rise of the British Empire’ Sunday TimesAbout the Author:
David Scott is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the History of Parliament Trust and has formerly taught at both York and Yale Universities. His previous book (for Palgrave) 'Politics and War in the Three Stuart Kingdoms 1637-49' was chosen by the Sunday Telegraph as one of its Books of the Year in 2004.
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