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13 January, 2012
|First Four Georges|
(J H Plumb)
Fluent, lucid and written with Plumb's characteristic brevity, this is among the best introductions you will find to the high politics of the Hanoverian period. Sir John Plumb (d.2001) was one of the finest historical writers ever published in English. He is in the tradition of Macaulay and Trevelyan. His prose is polished and perfectly cadenced, and his light style masks a profound analytical grasp of the political forces that shaped this century of Whig ascendancy. Some may accuse him of adhering to the 'Great Men' school of history. If so, he highlights all their vices as well as their virtues.
Plumb was criticised for more often making the grand sweep of historical analysis as opposed to dredging through the minutiae of historical documentation. This analysis, I believe, is flawed and inimical to the notion that for history to be worthy of the name it should be readable for a wider audience, not solely confined to the institutions where it is nurtured.
Plumb's scholarship has inspired generations of laymen; his intellectual generosity and didactic rigour has also reaped its rewards within historical departments on both sides of the Atlantic. Those inspired by the Plumb school of history, who mastered their craft under his watchful eye at Christ's College, Cambridge, include such well known names as Simon Schama, David Cannadine, Niall Ferguson and Neil Mc Kendrick.
In 1714 George Ludwig, the fifty-eight-year-old elector of Brunswick-Luneburg, became, as George I, the first of the Hanoverian dynasty to rule Britain. Until his death in 1727 George served as both elector of Hanover and British monarch. An enigmatic figure whose real character has long been concealed by anti-Hanoverian propaganda, George emerges in this groundbreaking biography as an impressive ruler who welcomed the responsibilities the accession brought him and set out to bring culture to what he considered the unsophisticated English nation.
Ragnhild Hatton’s biography is the only comprehensive account of George’s life and reign. It draws on a wide range of archival sources in several languages to illuminate the fascinating details of George’s early life and dynastic crises, his plans and ambitions for the British nation, the impact of his rationalist ideas, and his accomplishments as king. The book also examines the king’s private life, his family relationships in both Prussia and England, his private interest in music and the arts, and the improvement of his British and Hanoverian properties.
The late Ragnhild Hatton was professor of international history at the University of London. Jeremy Black, professor of history at the University of Exeter, is the author of numerous books, including War and the World and Maps and History, both published by Yale University Press.
|The Hanoverians: The History of a Dynasty|
In The Hanoverians, one of Britain's most widely read historians, Jeremy Black, presents a detailed look at the long reign of this family's scandal-plagued reigning dynasty from the eighteenth to the early nineteenth century, including four King Georges and William IV. From the controversial King George I, who spoke only French and German, to George III's humiliating loss of the American colonies and bouts of insanity, to the disliked George IV's scandalous marriage and attempted divorce, the reign of the Hanoverians was filled with interesting stories and extraordinary characters.
|The King, the Crook, and the Gambler: The True Story of the South Sea Bubble and the Greatest Financial Scandal in History|
An unscrupulous Englishman had the notion for a company that would establish a lucrative trade in silver and spices between England and the Americas. What the investors didn't know was that the South Sea Company barely owned a ship. In this gripping account, Malcolm Balen reveals the true story of how a simple stock-share scheme became a Dickensian web of political and financial intrigue that threatened to overturn two monarchies and topple the British government. Set in the mazy back alleys of the newly inaugurated financial districts of 1720s London and Paris, The King, the Crook, and the Gambler is a lively, fast-paced, and surprisingly epic history of how the South Sea Bubble escalated into a catastrophe that made the fortunes of few and the ruin of many -- and has proved the model for every financial bubble since.