wshaffer (wshaffer) wrote,

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Audio Review: This Sceptred Isle Vol. 5

This Sceptred Isle (BBC Radio Collection) This Sceptred Isle by Christopher Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This installment of the audio history of Britain covers the later Stuart kings and the Glorious Revolution. It continues to be compelling in a way that's a bit hard to explain. It's not particularly in-depth or analytical history, but the way it weaves primary sources into the ongoing narrative has a way of making history come alive. Listening to this installment, I really found myself pondering how it must have felt to be a British subject seeing a bad king deposed in a coup by a foreign prince. In a lot of histories, this is presented as a logical step in the progression towards constitutional monarchy, but when you think about it from the point of view of someone who doesn't have the benefit of hindsight, it actually seems pretty scary, and not particularly obviously a victory for the forces of freedom and democracy. (This Sceptred Isle doesn't get all the credit for this insight - I was primed for this by reading a nwhyte's recent review of a completely different history of the Glorious Revolution.)

A note on the edition: the audio file seems to have been assembled in the wrong order - it starts near the end of Charles II's reign, proceeds up to the arrival of William and Mary, and then suddenly skips back to the Restoration for no apparent reason. It makes a lot more sense if you listen to it in the correct order.

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Tags: listening, review

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