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George III: America's Last King (The…
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George III: America's Last King (The English Monarchs Series)

by Jeremy Black

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The book definitely provides a vivid portrait of George III, which is probably most important. I, however, had two problems with this work - hence, only three stars. First, it could be just me, but I had problems with book language, sometimes I had to reread sentences to get the meaning. I normally don't have such issues. Secondly, the lack in some cases of bigger picture as related to political environment outside of Great Britain. Most often there is a very brief explanation and it is assumed that reader is familiar with the topic. I understand that George III ruled for such long time that such bigger picture would fill many pages since there were many changes throughout his rule - still, it would help to explain a lot of decisions made by George and his ministers. ( )
  everfresh1 | Jun 20, 2013 |
I'm not sure that I have much more to add to the fine review that has already been posted, though I would note that Black presumes that you have some facility with the times and the political structures in which George III functioned. Call the man's life a text-book example of how good intentions are insufficient in statecraft. There has also been the observation that there was a certain disconnect in the man's approach to his his public life, in that he wanted to be active in the setting of policy but also wanted to be a figure who rose above national politics; perhaps consciously seeking a role as an honest broker would have served George better. ( )
1 vote Shrike58 | Apr 25, 2013 |
The latest installment in Yale University Press' English Monarchs Series is Exeter University historian Jeremy Black's George III: America's Last King. This first full-scale scholarly biography of George III in many years is a welcome addition to the series as well as a fine example of the biographer's craft. Black has worked diligently (his subtitle notwithstanding) to broaden the focus of George III's life and reign; while the American crisis and the king's later illnesses are covered, they form only appropriately-scaled portions of the book, as they should.

Black takes a useful approach here, interspersing narrative chapters on the political machinations and military goings-on with more wide-ranging thematic treatments of different aspects of the monarch's life - his relations with family, his cultural and religious inclinations, his lifestyle and his concerns for how to deal with Hanover, his ancestral continental possession. These thematic chapters were what I enjoyed most about the book - the others, while interesting, were filled to bursting with names and titles and political volleys that I found difficult to keep straight.

George III, Black argues, "instinctually knew what his duty was ... a major weaknes was that this conviction was not always illuminated by careful reflection, and could therefore seem both obtuse and stubborn" (p. 115). It was this commitment to what he perceived as his duty to his country and to his subjects that led him to take such a firm stand against the American crisis (unsuccessfully) and also against Catholic emancipation, parliamentary reform, and Franco-European aggression (more successfully). "George was a nicer man than his two predecessors and he meant well, but his obstinacy helped create serious political difficulties," Black concludes, putting it mildly.

Naturally I was drawn to Black's discussion of George's reading habits: the king accumulated a large working library (some 65,250 books by 1820, plus 19,000 tracts), which later became part of the British Museum. He opened his main library - next to his bedroom - to use by scholars (Samuel Johnson was a frequent visitor), and was known to visit Windsor bookshops. Black writes "George was particularly interested in works on theology, history, jurisprudence, science, the arts and the Classical inheritance, and less so in fiction ... Indeed, George did not really take to novels until he became blind, when one of his daughters read them to him nightly" (p. 170). The king liked to read interesting portions of his books aloud, and preferred "his books unbound for his first reading and afterwards bound to match his other books" (p. 171).

Black's excellently-researched and richly-footnoted study will, I hope, prompt others to take a fresh look at the life of one of Britain's most longest-serving and - frankly - most interesting, monarchs.

http://philobiblos.blogspot.com/2007/09/book-review-george-iii-americas-last.htm... ( )
3 vote JBD1 | Sep 30, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300117329, Hardcover)

The sixty-year reign of George III (1760–1820) witnessed and participated in some of the most critical events of modern world history: the ending of the Seven Years’ War with France, the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary Wars, the campaign against Napoleon Bonaparte and battle of Waterloo in 1815, and Union with Ireland in 1801. Despite the pathos of the last years of the mad, blind, and neglected monarch, it is a life full of importance and interest.
Jeremy Black’s biography deals comprehensively with the politics, the wars, and the domestic issues, and harnesses the richest range of unpublished sources in Britain, Germany, and the United States. But, using George III’s own prolific correspondence, it also interrogates the man himself, his strong religious faith, and his powerful sense of moral duty to his family and to his nation. Black considers the king’s scientific, cultural, and intellectual interests as no other biographer has done, and explores how he was viewed by his contemporaries. Identifying George as the last British ruler of the Thirteen Colonies, Black reveals his strong personal engagement in the struggle for America and argues that George himself, his intentions and policies, were key to the conflict.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:17 -0400)

"The sixty-year reign of George III (1760-1820) witnessed and participated in some of the most critical events of modern world history: the ending of the Seven Years' War with France, the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary Wars, the campaign against Napoleon Bonaparte and battle of Waterloo in 1815, and Union with Ireland in 1801. Despite the pathos of the last years of the mad, blind, and neglected monarch, it is a life full of importance and interest." "Jeremy Black's biography deals comprehensively with the politics, the wars, and the domestic issues, and harnesses the richest range of unpublished sources in Britain, Germany, and the United States. But, using George III's own prolific correspondence, it also interrogates the man himself, his strong religious faith, and his powerful sense of moral duty to his family and to his nation. Black considers the king's scientific, cultural, and intellectual interests as no other biographer has done, and explores how he was viewed by his contemporaries. Identifying George as the last British ruler of the Thirteen Colonies, Black reveals his strong personal engagement in the struggle for America and argues that George himself, his intentions and policies, were key to the conflict."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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Yale University Press

Two editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300117329, 0300136218

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