Book Review: The Civil Wars (by Martyn Bennett) : BH

8/12/2001 • British Heritage Book Reviews

The Civil Wars, by Martyn Bennett, is published by Sutton Publishing Limited, 260 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10001, 800-758-3756, $9.95, paperback.

The Civil Wars by Martyn Bennett, one the Sutton “Pocket Histories” series of books, accomplishes what most historians strive yet invariably fail to do: provide history in the most concise, direct style possible, without getting too lost in the technical aspects of politics or the broader ramifications of revolution or war on society.

The Civil Wars explores the years from 1637 to 1653, focusing on the vast social, religious, and political unrest throughout the United Kingdom during those years. The first three chapters are devoted to the initial rebellions and revolutions in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England. While all of these rebellions are unique to their respective countries, overarchingly they are tied together, for each country suffered the same problems: religious oppression, religious reformation, counter-reformation, and political ambition (most notably of Oliver Cromwell). To live in these times would be to live in constant fear. Your own beliefs, however private, could be enough to cause great strife and controversy. King Charles I was overthrown and executed, government was in a shambles–chaos reigned.

History lovers and first-time explorers of British history will find The Civil Wars a satisfying book. It tackles the complexities of political history as concisely as possible while still focusing on the larger themes of change and their effect on their respective countries.

Christopher Hamme