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From the Publisher
"You may not always agree with McKeown's political and personal asides in English Mercuries, but you'll never see the literature he discusses in quite the same way."
--The Journal of Military History
English Mercuries turns a fresh, incisive, and informed eye on a literature usually read simply as jingoistic, proto-nationalistic paeans to the glory of war. McKeown, a veteran Marine and literature scholar, shows us poets torn by their experiences as soldiers, disenchanted with their queen, disgusted with war, and haunted by their dreams. English Mercuries opens a new and fascinating window on the early modern English culture of war; a view the reader will find surprisingly relevant to our present problems.
--Wayne E. Lee, Associate Professor of History, University of North Carolina
Adam McKeown finds in the writing of Elizabethan soldier-poets a sober and disenchanted counterpoint to the much-trumpeted patriotism of the age. English Mercuries is a work of moral and intellectual clarity, quietly compelling in its determination to peel away layers of historical myth in order to gauge English militarism by attending to the voices of veterans. It should not only reshape our understanding of individual writers from Thomas Churchyard to Ben Jonson, but also sharpen our appreciation of the complex, ambivalent view English citizens had of their government and its wars.
--David Lee Miller, Carolina Distinguished Professor of English & Comparative Literature, University of South Carolina
English Mercuries starts from McKeown's observation of how deeply affected every aspect of Elizabethan life was by war or the fear of war, and how many of the period's canonical authors served as soldiers. From this perspective, McKeown recenters our understanding of both familiar and unexpected texts into what could almost be called a parallel history of the period's literature. Some of the figures in McKeown's new canon are familiar, like John Donne or George Gascoigne; others are less so, like Thomas Churchyard; but McKeown argues convincingly for the importance and above all the richness and subtlety of war-writing in the period.
--William N. West, Northwestern University