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The ideals of freedom and individual rights that inspired America’s Founding Fathers did not spring from a vacuum. Along with many other defining principles of our national character, they can be traced directly back to one of the most pivotal events in British history—the late-seventeenth-century uprising known as the Glorious Revolution.

In a work of popular history that stands with recent favorites such as David McCullough’s 1776 and Joseph J. Ellis’s Founding Brothers, Michael Barone brings the story of this unlikely and largely bloodless revolt to American readers and reveals that, without the Glorious Revolution, the American Revolution may never have happened.

Unfolding in 1688–1689, Britain’s Glorious Revolution resulted in the hallmarks of representative government, guaranteed liberties, the foundations of global capitalism, and a foreign policy of opposing aggressive foreign powers. But as Barone shows, there was nothing inevitable about the Glorious Revolution. It sprang from the character of the English people and depended on the talents, audacity, and good luck of two men: William of Orange (later William III of England), who launched history’s last successful cross-channel inva sion, and John Churchill, an ancestor of Winston, who commanded the forces of the deposed James II but crossed over to support William one fateful November night.

The story of the Glorious Revolution is a rich and riveting saga of palace intrigue, loyalty and shocking betrayal, and bold political and military strategizing. With narrative drive, a sure command of historical events, and unforgettable portraits of kings, queens, soldiers, parliamentarians, and a large cast of full-blooded characters, Barone takes an episode that has fallen into unjustified obscurity and restores it to the prominence it deserves. Especially now, as we face enemies who wish to rid the world of the lasting legacies of the Glorious Revolution—democracy, individual rights, and capitalism among them—it is vitally important that we understand the origins of these blessings.


From the Hardcover edition.
Published: Crown Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on May 8, 2007
ISBN: 9780307394385
List price: $11.99
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A straightforward narrative history of Britain's 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688. This is as rigorous as popular history gets: Barone cites his sources scrupulously, and he cites to the leading academic syntheses of the last two decades. Given Barone's career as a political journalist, it's not surprising that this volume emphasizes the ins and outs of politics under Charles II and James II; it's a political wonk's history. Readers more interested in social trends or the full personalities of the major historical figures will find this a dry read, or at least incomplete. But as a basic narrative history, it's a great introduction to the Revolution of 1688. One quibble: in his introduction, Barone argues that the Revolution of 1688 has received much less attention in the U.S. than it deserves: "this First Revolution was ...a long step forward toward the kind of society we take for granted now. It provided the backdrop for the amazing growth, prosperity, and military success of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain -- and for the American Revolution and the even more amazing growth, prosperity, and military success of the United States." But this interpretation isn't new; it's the heart of traditional Whig history, the view that 1688 is best understood as one step in the long unfolding of British history to generate the modern, democratic, relatively free market state. Plenty of American historians have articulated this view (especially through the 1800s); fewer recently in academia because it imposes current values retroactively, and is now viewed as a sloppy way to do history. Fortunately, Barone's Whig impulse doesn't prejudice most of his narrative -- which, after all, is based closely on the work of modern, post-Whig academic historians -- and it's possible ignore this theme in his introduction and conclusion.read more
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A good book on the 1680s outing of King James by William of Orange leading to the reign of William and Mary.read more
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Reviews

A straightforward narrative history of Britain's 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688. This is as rigorous as popular history gets: Barone cites his sources scrupulously, and he cites to the leading academic syntheses of the last two decades. Given Barone's career as a political journalist, it's not surprising that this volume emphasizes the ins and outs of politics under Charles II and James II; it's a political wonk's history. Readers more interested in social trends or the full personalities of the major historical figures will find this a dry read, or at least incomplete. But as a basic narrative history, it's a great introduction to the Revolution of 1688. One quibble: in his introduction, Barone argues that the Revolution of 1688 has received much less attention in the U.S. than it deserves: "this First Revolution was ...a long step forward toward the kind of society we take for granted now. It provided the backdrop for the amazing growth, prosperity, and military success of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain -- and for the American Revolution and the even more amazing growth, prosperity, and military success of the United States." But this interpretation isn't new; it's the heart of traditional Whig history, the view that 1688 is best understood as one step in the long unfolding of British history to generate the modern, democratic, relatively free market state. Plenty of American historians have articulated this view (especially through the 1800s); fewer recently in academia because it imposes current values retroactively, and is now viewed as a sloppy way to do history. Fortunately, Barone's Whig impulse doesn't prejudice most of his narrative -- which, after all, is based closely on the work of modern, post-Whig academic historians -- and it's possible ignore this theme in his introduction and conclusion.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A good book on the 1680s outing of King James by William of Orange leading to the reign of William and Mary.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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