Oliver Cromwell

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The English Civil War, fought between 1642 and 1646, occurred during one of the most turbulent, but also most important, periods in British history. Years of dispute over the political powers of the monarchy - between the reigning King Charles I and Parliament - culminated in a war, which ultimately led to the execution of the King and the establishment of a Parliament independent of the monarchy. Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) emerged in the mid-seventeenth century as the leader of the parliamentarian cause, a dazzlingly successful soldier and forceful politician who molded the course of revolution, reconstruction, and reform. He rose to be head of the army and, from 1653, head of state of a united Britain as Lord Protector. A statesman of considerable ability, he ran a strong and stable regime which began the process of rebuilding the state and healing the divisions of the civil war. But he was also a religious visionary, a man who believed that the Lord had chosen him for a special mission and had handed him the military successes and political power to enable him to fulfil this divine task. To the end, Cromwell was driven forward and radicalized by the pursuit of godly reformation. This illustrated biography provides a concise and accessible introduction to Oliver Cromwell's life and career. The text draws upon extensive and up-to-date research as well as contemporary speeches and letters, both personal and political, giving an insight into the hopes and fears, goals and aspirations of the man behind one of the most critical periods of British history.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Two brief biographies of Oliver Cromwell and Sir Francis Drake continue the winning new series published by NYU Press in conjunction with the British Library. Written by specialists, these bright, concise biographies are nevertheless accessible to general readers and young people, making them enormously valuable. Gaunt, the author of numerous books on Cromwell and the British Civil War, is an engaging writer who takes the reader through Cromwell's life, campaigns, and Protectorate. Readers learn the basics about Cromwell and more. Not just a Puritan but a God-driven man, Cromwell might well be compared to George W. Bush. There are few extant records about Cromwell, and historians hotly debate many of the earlier works written about him. This "Cromwell Lite" demythologizes much of that literature and sets the record straight. Similarly, cartographic historian Whitfield indicates that the 19th- and 20th-century romanticizing of Sir Francis Drake is well off the mark. Drake's reported family history appears bogus; he was a privateer, willing to destroy friends for the sake of his ambitions, certainly flamboyant, and ultimately a flawed man. Again, though compact, this is an exciting and wholly convincing interpretation of an important British figure. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Gail Benjafield, St. Catharines P.L., Ont. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This biography is an excellent way to introduce readers to this dynamic personality who came to dominate the British Isles in the 17th century, rising from fairly humble beginnings to do so. His influence ran from military to political to religious. Gaunt appreciates the man for the kinds of reasons that will resonate with modern readers, especially Cromwell's liberal attitude toward religious belief and observance, at least within Protestantism. The concentration on this aspect of his greatness does rather miss the point that his importance comes from his role in his own time and his effect on posterity, but this is still a well-designed introduction to a fascinating and important figure. The book has mainly color illustrations and a map that readers unfamiliar with English geography will find useful.-Ted Westervelt, Library of Congress, Washington, DC Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Clearly written, well organized and suffused with human interest, this new study will prove deservedly popular in sixth forms and university courses." History

"This book is as disciplined, vivid and vigorous as the man it celebrates. Gaunt offers a convincing interpretation of Cromwell's life and a shrewd assessment of his achievement." John Morrill, Vice Master and Reader in Early Modern History, Selwyn College, Cambridge

"A carefully written and well argued account." The Times

"A new and controversial account of one of the pivotal figures in British history. This scholarly account is nonetheless interesting and informative." Rachel Dickinson, Waterstone's, Richmond, in The Bookseller

"A concise but thick-textured and comprehensive reconsideration of a character, a career, a life and a reputation, making no claim to be definitive - each generation commands its own reappraisal - but ensured of an enduring place in the historiography." Ivan Roots, Cromwelliana

"Serious and well researched." The Sunday Times

"Oliver Cromwell is a superb and scholarly biography, and essential reading for any definitive study of 17th century British and Irish history. Midwest Book Review

"The strength of Peter Gaunt's book is that it integrates Cromwell's military and political careers and deals seriously and sensitively with his religion. It is also well written. In his handling of Cromwell's battlefield exploits, Gaunt is superior to virtually all other recent biographers ... Gaunt has written the most useful biography since C. H. Firth's Oliver Cromwell and the Rule of the Puritans appeared in 1900." Albion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814731642
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2004
  • Series: British Lives Ser.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Gaunt is Senior Lecturer in History at University College Chester. He is also Chairman of The Cronwell Association.

Historical Association Studies are incisive essays on major historical topics. Intended for students, books in the series provide critical interpretations of research in some of the central themes and key episodes of history.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps
1 The Man and the Myth 3
2 Early Life, 1599-1642 29
3 The First Civil War, 1642-1646 43
4 Politics and the Army, 1646-1649 67
5 Enemies and Divisions, 1649-1653 106
6 Head of State, 1653-1658 153
7 The Faces of Cromwell 209
Select Bibliography 239
Notes 247
Index 256
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