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A History major at Colgate University, my particular period of interest was the English Civil War, so I've read more books about the era than I care to recall. But the two best I've read are recent texts : The English Civil War: A People's History by Diane Purkiss and this one, improbably enough, written by Princess Diana's brother. Charles Spencer takes as his particular focus the process by which the rebels tried and executed King Charles I and then that by which his son, Charles II, proceeded to exact his revenge on the men responsible when he was restored to the throne. It has been noted that this second half of the book plays out like the sequence in the Godfather films, where Michael Corleone takes out all his enemies. It's interesting in a Tarantino-esque sort of way. But I was far more impressed by the first half, where the author provides real insight into why a revolution that was otherwise rather gentlemanly, in the way only Anglospheric revolutions tend to be, surprisingly led to the execution of the monarch.

The dynamic that Mr. Spencer captures, uniquely from my reading, is the real sense of outrage on the part of the revolutionaries that Charles's stubborness had led to so much killing amongst their friends, compatriot and countrymen. The sense he conveys is that Charles ultimately had to pay not so much for any of his earlier misdeeds so much as to pay the butcher's bill from the war they precipitated.

This feat of analysis alone would make the book worth reading, nevermind the exciting revenge melodrama that follows the restoration. But there's another element here that recommends the book. in setting the scene for the execution and its aftermath, Mr. Spencer provides one of the clearest and most coherent narratives you'll ever find of the Revolution as a whole. I'd have done better on a couple finals if I'd had this book 35 years ago.


Grade: (A+)


See also:

Charles Spencer Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE: Spencer of Althorp
    -BOOK PAGE: Killers of the King (Bloomsbury)
    -TWITTER: cspencerbooks
    -WIKIPEDIA: Charles Spencer
-INTERVIEW: Charles Spencer on Britain’s only regicides (Charlie Kenber, 9/07/14, London Calling)
    -PROFILE: Charles Spencer and a historic royal manhunt: Charles Spencer, keeper of the Althorp estate and his sister Diana’s memory, is investigating a historic manhunt (Leah McLaren, October 11, 2014, MacLeans)
    -INTERVIEW: Exclusive: Charles Spencer on His ‘Killer’ New Book, Memories of Princess Diana (Diane Clehane, Jan. 21, 2015, AdWeek)
    -INTERVIEW: Lord Charles Spencer Has a Part for Benedict Cumberbatch in His New Book (Josh Duboff, 1/23/15, Vanity Fair)
    -PROFILE: Earl Spencer finds his sympathies lie with killers of a king (Bridget Galton, 9/15/14, Ham & High)
    -INTERVIEW: Teatime With Diana’s Brother (RALPH GARDNER JR., Jan. 27, 2015, WSJ)
    -INTERVIEW: Charles Spencer dishes on his new historical novel (Cindy Adams, January 18, 2015, NY Post)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: 'Killers Of The King' By Charles Spencer (JOE DONAHUE, 1/22/15, WAMC)
-REVIEW: of Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I by Charles Spencer (John Gallagher, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Killers of the King (Christopher Howse, Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Killers of the King (Kate Williams, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Killers of the King (Jeffrey Collins, WSJ)
    -REVIEW: of Killers of the King (Cullen Murphy, Vanity Fair)
    -REVIEW: of Killers of the King (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of Killers of the king (David Walton, Dallas News)

Book-related and General Links:

-REVIEW: of The Blazing World: A New History of Revolutionary England by Jonathan Healey (Paul Krause, Voeglin View)