Monarchy – David Starkey

July 15, 2009 at 22:18 | Posted in books | Leave a comment
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‘Monarchy’ is a history book. It traces British history from Henry VIII through to the present day. It’s a royal history; a history of Britain and her rulers but not quite in the mould of a standard biographical text. Rather Starkey attempts to outline what the monarchy has meant; how it has evolved and what it represents. The personalities of course play a part, but the angle of the book is more about how those personalities shaped and changed the institution of the monarchy.

Starkey’s writing rattles along, and is easy to read and quite engaging. At the very end of the book it all gets a bit mawkish as he describes his vision of the current royal family and what they might become; it is clear that Starkey himself is an ardent royalist which I suppose casts some doubt over how dispassionate he is in earlier chapters. Nevertheless it’s a very digestible book which is an excellent summary of British history from the sixteenth century to the present day.

My only regret is how rubbish I am at remembering names and dates. I read books like this, enjoy them and feel suitably educated. However, the most important specifics of history – who did what, when – somehow always seem to fail to lodge in my brain, leaving me with a general sense of what vaguely happened, with a few detailed and irrelevant tidbits staying crisp in my mind (like the fact that Victoria never wore the imperial crown after the death of Albert). Very frustrating!

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