Sunday, 21 August 2011

A Brief History of the The English Civil Wars-John Miller

 As part of my recommendations of new books on the English Civil war here is a brief review of John Millers book).

The English Civil War is testimony to the fact that John Miller is very well versed on the history and politics of this subject. The English Civil War is perhaps one of the most “hotly contested areas of English History”. Having said this it is perhaps given the limited space 200 pages a wise move that Miller does not delve into historiography of the Civil War.

I believe this is a weakness of the book but you pay your money and you take your choice. The book is light on military aspects which I think is a good thing. Some new books on the Civil war tend to use descriptions of battles etc. to pad things out.

The book is heavy on politics and this is a good thing. Miler clearly believes that this was a period that changed “the political, social, religious and intellectual landscape of the country for ever and was “an extraordinary turning point in British history”.

The book is not a deeply academic but is aimed at the student or general reader who does not have too deep an understanding of the complex nature of this subject. In the forward Miller says his aim was “to produce something for students and interested general readers that is both brief and clear'. 

As an interested general reader I think he achieves his aim entirely. I say this not to rubbish what after all is a very good book. If it is not already on university book lists then it should.

On John Miller

Professor Miller’s began doing his original area of research looking into English politics in the reigns of Charles II and James II, to his credit his books tend to concentrate heavily on the politics of this time. While certainly no Marxist historian he does take on board and analyses the movement of class forces and how they impact on important individuals

I would not put him in the revisionist collection of historians and again to his credit he does not solely examine the history of “winners” but has a substantial interest of how politics worked at “grass roots level”, His chapter War and the People demonstrates this.


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