The Blazing World: A New History of Revolutionary England (Paperback)
  • The Blazing World: A New History of Revolutionary England (Paperback)
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The Blazing World: A New History of Revolutionary England (Paperback)

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Paperback 512 Pages
Published: 11/04/2024
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Waterstones Says

With great insight and wit, Healey delivers a new history of revolutionary England in the seventeenth century, bringing the bitter struggles over faith and the precarious political situation vividly to life.

The seventeenth century began as the English found themselves ruled by a Scotsman, and ended in the shadow of a Dutch invasion. Midway through, society collapsed into a civil war, followed by army coup and regicide. For a short time – for the only time in history – England was a republic. In coffee shops and alehouses, ordinary people fizzed with ideas that were angry, populist and almost impossible to control.

Despite these radical changes, few today fully understand the story of this revolutionary age. Leaders like Oliver Cromwell, Charles II and William of Orange have been reduced to caricatures, while major turning points like the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution are shrouded in myth. Yet, as Jonathan Healey argues, the period has never been more relevant. From raw politics to religious divisions, civil wars to witch trials, plague to press freedoms, The Blazing World tells the story of this strange but fascinating century in exuberant, panoramic detail.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781526621696
Number of pages: 512
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

The tempo never slackens in this erudite book - Economist

This lively and mischievous book guides us through a dangerous revolutionary century . . . There’s a reticence about taking on such a complex and turbulent period, but the rewards, as The Blazing World manifestly demonstrates, are very great - Jessie Childs, The Times

One of the many virtues of Jonathan Healey’s exciting new history of England during its most revolutionary period is the skilful way in which he thoroughly dissects the often obscure points of contention while never losing sight of the need to keep the narrative flowing . . . A rich and compelling account of one of the most fascinating and turbulent periods in all our history - Simon Griffith, Mail on Sunday

[A] lively, compelling and combative study of the most dramatic and consequential century in English history . . . The Blazing World offers a thrilling panorama of the period, from perspectives high and low, told with a winning combination of impish wit, sound judgment, and serious scholarship . . . It will delight those new to its extraordinary age, and fire up its grizzled veterans - Paul Lay, Telegraph

Healey’s prose is precise but colloquial. He presents complex arguments, but delivers them in a laid back, often jocular manner . . . He tackles big subjects – religious dissent, the legal system – but hitches them to piquant stories about individuals previously unknown to history . . . Events were tumultuous, but Healey persuasively shows us that thoughts were as thrilling and sometimes as wild . . . Compendious and lucid - Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Spectator

An admirably even-handed account . . . For those new to the subject, Healey’s retelling is exemplary - Jerry Brotton, Financial Times

[An] engaging narrative of seventeenth-century Britain . . . The nature of political legitimacy, the threats of populist frenzy, the longing for transparent representative structures and the debates over their limits, the power of media and the manipulation of images in political life: as Healey indicates, these are not remote issues. He enables us to see the deep continuities in the period, and to understand how the arguments that dominated the seventeenth century have had a profound and formative effect on Britain’s democracy today - Rowan Williams, New Statesman

A zesty and gripping account of England’s “century of revolution” - Edward Vallance, Literary Review

The Blazing World, offering a new history of revolutionary England in the seventeenth century, illustrates how uneasily any new king settles upon the throne . . . Healey has done extraordinary work in synthesising those academic books on the subject . . . Courageous and frequently engrossing . . . By tackling an enormous range of history with vim and intelligence, Healey has provided all of us with a lot to talk about - Diane Purkiss, Prospect

Jonathan Healey’s book is an impressive achievement. It focuses on the English political crises, setting them in an up-to-date social, intellectual and cultural context. Healey’s spare but engaging narrative is brought to life at every stage with individual experiences . . . The reader is in safe hands, guided by a historian who is on top of the best work on many areas of seventeenth-century life, and who has made his own distinctive contribution to our understanding of seventeenth-century society - Michael Braddick, Times Literary Supplement

Charts th[e] extraordinary course from the Tudors to the Hanoverians . . . Healey channels the inquiring spirit which came to define this revolutionary age, creating his own survey as rich and wide-ranging as the pioneering work of the seventeenth-century characters he so admires - Miranda Malins, The Critic

Teems with details . . . The strength of the narrative is its determination to range nationwide, as metropolitan affairs affected the lives of ordinary folk in the shires; this is history told from the bottom up. Dr Healey deals with the major historical events with assurance and forensic insight . . . A triumph of exposition, illuminating a blazing time of revolution in which was forged a new world order - Timothy Mowl, Country Life

A sparkling account of a period that is crucial for any understanding of the history of the UK, Europe and the world beyond - Peter Frankopan

Seventeenth-century England comes thrillingly alive in Jonathan Healey’s energetic new history . . . Healey’s book is refreshing for its energetic writing, engaging wit and sound foundation in recent historical scholarship . . . Rich with anecdotes and explanations . . . Healey captures the vitality and turbulence of 17th-century England in an effective retelling, with many more players than the typical cast of kings and queens . . . While narrating his tempestuous past, Healey has an eye on the present . . . This readable and informative overview evokes a lost world which, for better or for worse, “was blazing a path toward our own” - David Cressy, New York Times

Capturing a century such as this in one breath is not for the faint-hearted . . . An unapologetic narrative history that draws the focus from the Tudors and onto the fascinating Stuart age can only help to freshen the air of current historical discourse. In this sense, Healey’s book is blazing trails - Nadine Akkerman, History Today

In his wide-ranging new history of revolutionary England, Jonathan Healey has given us a masterly account of a period that urgently needs to be reclaimed and recognised for its importance and interest . . . Painstakingly researched and elegantly written, The Blazing World is that rare achievement – a window into the past that is at once profoundly different and yet startlingly familiar. It deserves every success - Dr Linda Porter, Writing Desk

The Blazing World tells the story of that crucible era when Englishmen began to think. About God and government, how to limit the monarchy and how ‘the poorest he’ (if not the poorest she) might share in some kind of democracy. Jonathan Healey explains Revolutionary England with great insight and wit, and an objectivity usually lacking in histories written with an inclination towards one side or the other. The book helps us to understand how and why, 400 years ago, Englishmen came to develop political and religious beliefs for which they were prepared to die and would eventually amalgamate in a way which set Britain (and, ideologically) America on a path to greatness. - Geoffrey Robertson KC, author of The Tyrannicide Brief

An erudite but readable history of a remarkable century. Contemporary voices, unearthed from the archive, convey the texture of the times and bring events to life - Dr Margarette Lincoln, author of London and the Seventeenth Century

Here a familiar and very important story is told with exceptional clarity and vigour, and plenty of very unfamiliar anecdotes and characters, drawn from all over the nation and all of Stuart society - Ronald Hutton

The seventeenth century was the most dramatic and consequential in British history, the period during which the modern world was formed, and Jonathan Healey is as assured a guide to its twists and turns, its tragedies and triumphs as one could wish for. The Blazing World is a triumph of scholarship and concision - Paul Lay, author of Providence Lost

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“An enjoyable, popular narrative history that is as gripping as it is informative.”

A fantastic work of narrative history which offers a compulsively readable tour of the British isles in the 17th century. The build up and prelude to The Civil War are exceptionally well done. I particularly enjoyed... More

Hardback edition
4 similar books recommended
Helpful? Upvote 15

“Informative and exciting”

Before reading this I had a fairly threadbare knowledge of the English Civil war and other aspects of 17th century history. This book is an exceptional gateway into that period of history and I would wholeheartedly... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 13

“Interesting history of the 17th Century”

The 17th century was one of huge political change in England. From the absolutist monarchy to republic and then back to a more constitutional monarchy, the people of England saw their daily lives changed massively.... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 11

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