cover image Cavaliers and Roundheads: The English Civil War, 1642-1649

Cavaliers and Roundheads: The English Civil War, 1642-1649

Christopher Hibbert. Scribner Book Company, $27.5 (337pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19557-5

As King Charles I was led to his execution, guards blew smoke into his face. This vividly dramatic, engrossing chronicle of the English Civil War is crammed with such curious and revealing detail. English historian Hibbert keeps historical analysis to a minimum and emphasizes minor skirmishes instead of major battles in an unconventional narrative that superbly illuminates the human dimensions and costs of the war. He recreates the carnage on the battlefield, the pillaging and vandalism of towns. Conscription was stubbornly resisted; recruits who failed to report received the death penalty; astrologers helped the king formulate military strategy. Hibbert keenly profiles dozens of characters, especially Oliver Cromwell, transformed by the war from a melancholy, unambitious ``clumsy farmer'' into a relentlessly determined leader who saw his soldiers as God's faithful servants and promised them rewards in the hereafter. Photos. History Book Club alternate. (July)