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Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of…
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Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh (edition 2018)

by Anna Beer (Author)

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156916,796 (3.2)1
Member:TheCriticalTimes
Title:Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh
Authors:Anna Beer (Author)
Info:Oneworld Publications (2018), 416 pages
Collections:Your library
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Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh by Anna Beer

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I didn't know much about Sir Walter Ralegh (the author's choice of spelling) except some hazy memories from high school about pirating and putting his cloak over a puddle (?) so Elizabeth I wouldn't get her feet wet. Beer covered the pirating/exploring (among many other topics), but not the muddy cloak, so I must have made that up. I found the book informative, well-researched and organized, and easy to read. The author used an interesting format, based on roles (soldier, courtier, lover, writer, etc.), to explore Ralegh's life and death. The topics are roughly chronological with considerable overlap, but works. Ralegh was a fascinating character who led a colorful life of adventure and romance. We know so much about him, compared to his contemporaries, because he was also a brilliant writer and self-promoter. The book left me wanting to know more about his formidable wife Bess Throckmorton who managed his affairs while he was at sea and lobbied tirelessly for his release while he was in prison. I see that Anna Beer wrote a biography of the Lady Bess as well as her husband. I know what my next read will be! ( )
  MarysGirl | Nov 8, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received an advance copy as part of the Early Reviewers. Because it's an advanced copy it's missing some of the things like the index but did have "works consulted". The chronology at the end of the book was helpful to keep everything in line in my mind and helpful for anyone not as familiar with the time period.

This is an interesting book about a man who has been called many things, both during his life and after. He's usually tied to Queen Elizabeth and is eclipsed by her but this book helps his life stand on his own. I enjoy the way the author writes and she even explains the spelling and pronunciation of his name at the beginning which I thought was interesting and gets the reader a little in her head. Overall I did enjoy reading this. ( )
  Angelic55blonde | Nov 3, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Disclaimer: I won an ARC of this title via Netgalley.

When you actually sit down and think about, what exactly did Sir Walter Ralegh actually do to deserve almost being a household name in today’s world? You are more likely to have heard of him than Robert Cecil. He is one of the famous prisoners of the Tower of London, isn’t he? Thankfully, Anna Beer’s new book partially answers that question. In fact, she answers it as much as is humanly possible.
The book is less an examination of whether Ralegh was a traitor but how much he truly relied on self-promotion and proclamation. It is about treading the minefields that were political life in both Elizabeth and early Jacobean English court history.
While it is helpful to have a working knowledge of English history during the closing years of Elizabeth’s reign and the beginning of James, Beer’s writing is very engaging, and the pace is lively. The chapters each deal an aspect of Ralegh – solider, husband, and on – and what is undoubtedly more engrossing than a simpler linear biography.
What really sells the book are the subtle, at times funny, asides, such her musing about a codpiece, and her ability to not see her subject through rose-colored glasses. There are examinations of Ralegh’s various relationships – in particular with his wife and with his rivals. While one can’t say a better knowing of Ralegh as a man is a result of this book, one does get a better idea of how when he lived affected him. It doesn’t make Ralegh into your drinking mate, but it deepens your understanding. ( )
  Chrisethier | Oct 28, 2018 |
Good book overall. Interesting concept and story. ( )
  RhodestoRome | Oct 27, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In its present state, I just can't give this book more than 2½**. It's an advance copy that's full of typographical and grammatical errors and needs extensive proof-reading before final publication. Also, as an advance copy, it's lacking an index and foot/end-noting (though it does include a collection of "Works consulted").

I'm fairly sure that the end-product – after proofing, indexing, and foot/end-noting – will rate at least a bit better. I did rate Beer's Milton: Poet, Pamphleteer, and Patriot at 3½*** as a fairly decent biography but weak in its treatment of the poetry. This Ralegh biography is also weak on consideration of the poetry – and this is particularly unfortunate, considering that there are plenty of other sources we can turn to for Milton criticism but few critical works on the poetry of Walter Ralegh.

2½** for the time being, but probably 3*** with anticipated improvements from the editorial process. ( )
  CurrerBell | Oct 22, 2018 |
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