A Gambling Man: Charles II's Restoration Game

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Nov 23, 2010 - History - 592 pages

The Restoration was a decade of experimentation: from the founding of the Royal Society for investigating the sciences to the startling role of credit and risk; from the shocking licentiousness of the court to failed attempts at religious tolerance. Negotiating all these, Charles II, the "slippery sovereign," laid odds and took chances, dissembling and manipulating his followers. The theaters may have been restored, but the king himself was the supreme actor. Yet while his grandeur, his court, and his colorful sex life were on display, his true intentions lay hidden.

Charles II was thirty when he crossed the English Channel in fine May weather in 1660. His Restoration was greeted with maypoles and bonfires, as spring after the long years of Cromwell's rule. But there was no way to turn back, no way he could "restore" the old dispensation. Certainty had vanished. The divinity of kingship had ended with his father's beheading. "Honor" was now a word tossed around in duels. "Providence" could no longer be trusted. As the country was rocked by plague, fire, and war, people searched for new ideas by which to live. And exactly ten years after he arrived, Charles would again stand on the shore at Dover, this time placing the greatest bet of his life in a secret deal with his cousin, Louis XIV of France.

Jenny Uglow's previous biographies have won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and International PEN's Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History. A Gambling Man is Uglow at her best: both a vivid portrait of Charles II that explores his elusive nature and a spirited evocation of a vibrant, violent, pulsing world on the brink of modernity.

 

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User Review  - CarltonC - www.librarything.com

An excellent chronological history of Charles II reign from 1660 to 1670 following his return to England/Britain and the restoration of the monarchy. Having recently read Peter Ackroyd's wonderfully ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gogglemiss - www.librarything.com

I enjoyed reading this, even though, I don't normally read history books, but Charles 11 has always intrigued me, and whether this book is authentic or not, I found it informative and interesting, though his death was hastily added on at the end. But, nonetheless, a good read. Read full review

Contents

The Republic Trumped
I The Deal la donne
 
1 Sailing
2 Landing
II Clubs trefles
 
3 How to Be King
22 One Must Down
23 The Itch of Honour
24 Lord Have Mercy upon Us
25 Fortunes of War
26 The Long Hot Summer
27 Conflagration
28 Blame
29 The Trick Track Men

4 Three Crowns and More
5 This Wonderful Pacifick Year
6 Family Matters
7 Blood and Banners
8 Whitehall
9 Courtiers and Envoys
10 The Coming of the Queen
11 Land
III Diamonds carreaux
 
12 Tender Consciences
13 All People Discontented
14 The King Street Gang
15 Governed as Beasts
16 The Spring of the Air
17 The Royal Society
18 Card Houses
19 Beauties
20 Performance
IV Hearts coeurs
 
21 Moneymen and Merchants
V Spades piques
 
30 Breathing Spaces
31 The Dutch in the Medway
32 The Blows Fall on Clarendon
33 The Triple Alliance
34 Buckinghams Year
35 Loving Too Well
36 Sweet Ladies
37 Troublesome Men
38 Charles and Louis
VI The Clearance la fin
 
39 Dover and Beyond
40 Sailing
Also by Jenny Uglow
Acknowledgements
Abbreviations and Sources
Notes
List of Illustrations
Index
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Jenny Uglow is an editor at Chatto & Windus and lives in Canterbury, England. Her previous books include Nature's Engraver, A Little History of British Gardening, The Lunar Men, and Hogarth, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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