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Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the…

Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British…

by Paul Thomas Murphy

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206887,784 (3.96)9
From a hunchbacked dwarf to a paranoid poet assassin, a history of Victorian England as seen through the numerous assassination attempts on Queen Victoria.



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A very well written book. Tells the story of the eight attacks made on Queen Victoria during her long reign
While these attacks might be only mildly interesting in themselves, the author uses them to tell more of the times - both for the poor, and for the governing elite. I came away with a much better appreciation of the Victorian era than when I started the book. ( )
  mbmackay | Jun 12, 2019 |
Queen Victoria apparently spent a lot of time ducking. This is the history of seven boys and men who made more-or-less serious attempts on the life of the queen. Most of them were demented, although there were one or two attempts by Irish nationalists that didn't get very far. Each of these attempts resulted in a surge of popular support for the monarchy, and Victoria and Prince Albert were sharp enough to work with that. The series of attempts also drove changes to laws governing insanity pleas, and contributed to the growth and professionalization of the detective police. Well-written and a pleasure to read. ( )
  AstonishingChristina | Jul 9, 2018 |
Yes, the book's long, but that's not my problem here. My problem is that what the author calls an assassination attempt I call pitiful. A teenager with a nonfunctioning (and clearly nonfunctioning) antique pistol (antique at the time) does not qualify. Someone firing blanks (flintlocks loaded with powder and wad but no bullet) might, if he's firing close enough to set the carriage on fire (they weren't), and while I've lost count, it seemed as if that scenario accurately describes no fewer than three of these attempts. Only the final shooter was armed with a sufficiently formidable weapon to qualify as a true assassination attempt… and thankfully, he couldn't shoot straight or he aimed at the carriage wheel, as he claimed to police. And the "dynamitards" (what a fabulous term!) couldn't get their act together.

The remarkable and fascinating parts of the book include the beautifully researched glimpses into Victoria and Albert's lives together, the political background of the times, and the changes in English law through the queen's long, long reign. For a cultural wallowing, there's nothing better. A clever mystery writer could take those so-called assassination attempts and work up something really exciting.

3.5 stars ( )
  GunnarGrey | Oct 8, 2015 |
This is a comprehensive, almost exhaustive study of the various assassination attempts made against Queen Victoria. From Edward Oxford at the beginning of her reign to Roderick MacLean at the end of it, the author takes us on a highly detailed journey through Victorian England. The circumstances of each assailant are described, as well as their motivation for striking against the Queen. We also see the history of Victoria's reign as a whole, from the young Queen, to the Crystal Palace, to life without Albert, to the Golden and Diamond Jubilees.

The book is huge, and it may be beneficial to make note of each assailant when he first appears; I sometimes needed to flip back a few pages to remind myself who each one was. Still, all of the details were fascinating, especially seeing how the paths of the assailants crossed and their respective fates within the criminal justice system. We also see plenty of contemporary accounts of the trials and daily life in general. For anyone who has a basic knowledge of Victoria's reign, this would be an interesting next step. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Nov 3, 2013 |
During her reign Queen Victoria survived seven assassination attempts. [Shooting Victoria] tells the story of each of those attempts and describes how they changed the monarchy's relationship with the nation and changed the legal and political relationship between Government and monarch. Along the way [[Paul Thomas Murphy]] provides potted historical summaries, curious coincidences and trips down Victorian byways that entertain as much as enlighten. This is a wonderful book that provides a clear and detailed historical examination of a little-explored aspect of Victorian history and uses that to explain larger themes in the development of Victorian society. The Queen's relationships with her Government and people were not always smooth, but Murphy shows how all sides used her surviving these assassination attempts as ways to bring all sides closer together and to strengthen the monarchy in a century when republicanism was a powerful force across the globe. ( )
  pierthinker | Sep 17, 2013 |
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Shooting Victoria is the narrative history of the seven boys and men who, driven by a variety of inner demons, attacked Queen Victoria on eight separate occasions between 1840 and 1882.
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