Oliver Cromwell

Peter Gaunt

The British Library 2004
A book review by Danny Yee © 2010 http://dannyreviews.com/
Peter Gaunt's Oliver Cromwell has barely a hundred pages of text, with the rest of it taken up by illustrations. These include portraits of Cromwell and others, reproductions of letters and other documents (making good use of the British Library collection), and photographs of surviving artifacts and buildings.

Gaunt draws on Cromwell's letters and writings but avoids speculation or dramatisation, leaving his personal life largely blank. His political motivations and mindset are more clearly revealed, for example his support for civil liberties:

"from the early 1640s, when his faith began shaping his political objectives, until his death in 1658, Cromwell consistently made the pursuit of liberty his main goal, repeatedly and emphatically pledging himself to secure 'liberty of conscience and liberty of subjects, two as glorious things to be contended for as any God hath given us'."
The result is as much a political history of the English Civil War and the Protectorate as a biography.

There are no references and just one page of further reading suggestions, making this a book for the general reader rather than a guide for students. There is, however, room for a brief historiographical introduction, explaining the paucity of sources and tracing the changes in attitudes to Cromwell over the centuries since his death.

December 2010

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%T Oliver Cromwell
%A Gaunt, Peter
%I The British Library
%D 2004
%O hardcover, photographs, index
%G ISBN 0712348573
%P 144pp