The Making of Oliver Cromwell
(YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 424 PP, £25)
Tablet bookshop price £22.50 • tel 020 7799 4064
Oliver Cromwell, the only commoner head of state in English history, and a hero of the Left in both politics and religion, is difficult to present as a sympathetic figure. In this first volume of what should become a comprehensive biography, Ronald Hutton fully acknowledges the paradoxes of his subject’s character, and explores the combination of self-righteousness, courage, deviousness, and effective military leadership that took him from obscurity to the centre of national affairs by the end of the Civil War, when this account stops. The book is enterprisingly illustrated and well supplied with maps and battleplans.