Great Tales of English History: Captain Cook, Samuel Johnson, Queen Victoria, Charles Darwin, Edward the Abdicator, and More

Robert Lacey, Author . Little, Brown $23.99 (305p) ISBN 978-0-316-11459-2

The third volume in Lacey's series of edifying and entertaining stories from English history abounds in fascinating profiles. Industrial and agricultural pioneers such as Jethro Tull, James Hargreaves and Isambard Kingdom Brunel abide alongside human rights protestors such as Thomas Clarkson, who founded the British antislavery movement; feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft; and journalist Annie Besant, who initiated a successful 1888 match girls' strike. Lacey wittily summarizes the careers of various military giants of the British Empire including the duke of Marlborough and the mutiny-prone Captain Bligh, and treats the royal Hanover line with similar irreverence, beginning with the German import George I before describing, with modern medical hindsight, the "madness" of King George III and chronicling the teenage Queen Victoria's ascension to the throne in 1837. Meanwhile, Lacey draws attention to overlooked historical figures, such as the mixed-race Jamaican-born Crimean Wars nurse Mary Seacole, the Dorset fossil excavator and would-be geologist Mary Anning and Walter Sellar and Robert Yeatman, creators of the 1930 satirical history classic 1066 and All That. Lacey's slyly oblique narratives will please history lovers of all ages. 60 b&w illus. (Dec. 11)

Reviewed on: 10/16/2006
Release date: 12/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
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