Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Oliver Cromwell by David L Smith

I have just finished David L Smith’s book on Oliver Cromwell from the Cambridge University Press Topics in History. This is not an orthodox biography of Cromwell but a guide to study. It works both for A Level students as well as those taking degrees.

I don’t know much about D L Smith, and you will not gain much from this book regarding as the historian E H Carr said of his “buzzing of the bees”. For the moment this doesn't matter. The book is an excellent introduction to Cromwell. It is well balanced. Neither favouring those for him or those against.

While his explanations are brief and none to analytical they give directions to the reader for further study well enough. The questions posed are informative and will make the student or layperson carry out further research. I would have preferred more essay type questions, but then again that’s just me. Just one note of caution his glowing enthusiasm for the forthcoming Blair Worden biography is a bit much. 

It's not that I don’t like Worden he is an excellent historian but at the moment given the current climate dominated by the revisionists ‘what revolution’ there is certainly not the intellectual climate to better the work undertaken by Christopher Hill. Maybe Worden has uncovered the secret Cromwell diaries hidden from view all this time.

Biographical details from Wikipedia are below as well as a list of publications.

“David L. Smith, born in London on 3 December 1963, is a noted historian of the Early Modern period of British history, particularly political, constitutional, legal and religious history in the Stuart period. He is the author or co-author of eight books, and the editor or co-editor of four others (see a list of leading publications below). He was educated at Eastbourne College (1972-81) and then went up to Selwyn College, Cambridge, as a Scholar in October 1982. At Selwyn, he took his BA with First Class honours in 1985, his PGCE with Distinction in 1986, and his MA in 1989, and his PhD in 1990.He has been a Fellow of Selwyn College since 1988. He has also served as a Director of Studies in History since 1992, and as a Graduate Tutor since 2004. He was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago in 1991. In that year he also won the Royal Historical Society's Alexander Prize and Cambridge University's Thirlwall Prize for historical research. For nearly twelve years (1992-2003) he was Admissions Tutor at Selwyn, a period during which the College's academic performance improved markedly. From 1996 until 2006 he was also the College's Praelector.He has been an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of History at Cambridge since 1995, and he served as Convenor of the Directors of Studies in History from 2006 to 2010. He also teaches regular courses for Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education. He was a member of the Institute's Management Board from 2005 to 2008, and he has been Director of the Institute's annual History Summer School since 2005.

He became a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1992, and he has been President of the Cambridge History Forum since 1997. He is also a Governor of Eastbourne College (since 1993), and a Trustee of Oakham School (since 2000”.


• Oliver Cromwell: Politics and Religion in the English Revolution, 1640-1658 Cambridge University Press, 1991

• Louis XIV Cambridge University Press, 1992

• Constitutional Royalism and the Search for Settlement, c. 1640-1649 Cambridge University Press, 1994

• (co-edited with Richard Strier and David Bevington) The Theatrical City: Culture, Theatre and Politics in London, 1576-1649 Cambridge University Press, 1995

• A History of the Modern British Isles, 1603-1707: The Double Crown Blackwell, 1998

• The Stuart Parliaments, 1603-1689Edward Arnold, 1999

• (with Graham E. Seel) The Early Stuart Kings, 1603-1642 Routledge, 2001

• (with Graham E. Seel) Crown and Parliaments, 1558-1689 Cambridge University Press, 2001

• (edited) Cromwell and the Interregnum Blackwell, 2003

• (co-edited with Jason McElligott) Royalists and Royalism during the English Civil Wars Cambridge University Press, 2007

• (with Patrick Little) Parliaments and Politics during the Cromwellian Protectorate Cambridge University Press, 2007

• (co-edited with Jason McElligott) Royalists and Royalism during the Interregnum Manchester University Press, 2010
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