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An astoundingly comprehensive audit of the era sprawling, expansive and imperial, touching all bases, cause c l bre Chartism to celebrated cause The Boer War , succ s de scandale On the Origin of Species, perhaps to successful scandal The Fall of Parnell, perhaps Wilson, elsewhere biographer of Darwin and Queen Victoria, emphasises personalities, those individuals whose lives, words and works mediate their period His pen portraits of key figures read like rigorously researched private memoirs his portrayal of Dizzy is biased enough to entertain and balanced enough to forgive, his Lewis Carroll is gentle yet just Less a primer, a full blown guide. A fascinating period of history I like most of Wilson s work and this did not disappoint. #FREE DOWNLOAD ⚛ The Victorians â AN Wilson Does For The Victorians What Peter Ackroyd Did For LondonPeople, Not Abstract Ideas, Make History, And Nowhere Is This Revealed Than In This Superb Portrait Of The Victorians In Which Hundreds Of Different Lives Have Been Pieced Together To Tell A Story In An Entertaining And Often Dramatic Narrative, AN Wilson Shows Us Remarkable People In The Very Act Of Creating The Victorian AgeThe Industrial Capitalist World Came Into Being Because Of Actual Businessmen, Journalists And Politicians We Meet Them In The Pages Of This Fascinating Book Their Ideas Were Challenged By The Ideas Of Other People, Such As Karl Marx, William Morris And George Bernard Shaw Here Are The Lofty And The Famous Prince Albert, Lord Palmerston, Charles Dickens, Gladstone And Disraeli And Here Too Are The Poor And The Obscure Doctors Ministering To Cholera Victims In The Big Cities, Young Women Working As Models For The Famous Painters, The Man Who Got The British Hooked On Cigarettes, The Butchers And Victims Of Conflict In Ireland, India And Africa In This Authoritative, Accessible And Insightful Book, AN Wilson Tells A Great Story One That Is Still Unfinished In Our Own Day I decided to read this only one chapter per day so that I could really enjoy the wonderful writing and the bits that are not normally included in books about the Victorians.Glad to see my friend Dizzy came out well he was always my favourite, unlike the patronizing, sermonizing Gladstone.Nice to see the ladies of the time getting kudos too.Maryanne Evans still remains one of my favourite authors along with Oscar Wilde.Well worth reading and just enjoying. I would of rated this higher, but the last third of the book was a chore to finish It was like Wilson lost his focus which, admittedly, is difficult given the broad subject , and started speculating with various what ifs In a history book, a little bit of that can go a long way In addition, the subject matter is so broad the Victorians that Wilson was obligated to cover areas I could care less about As long as he was dealing with writers, artists, politicians, religion, military events, etc., I was ok But when he got into philosophies always a bore for me , economics snooze , and other flotsam jetsam, I could feel my eyes glazing over There were also times Wilson would dutifully take up some subject like Jack the Ripper or Sherlock Holmes, and you would get a very surface level discussion However, other times Wilson shines with discussions of Browning and his poetry, or Ruskin and Pater , or Zola, or the back and forth between Newman and Charles Kingsley Refreshingly, he views Kingsley, who had a mildly kinky relationship with his wife, as the straightforward Christian On the area of Christianity, and belief, you can t help but be aware of Wilson s own struggles At the time of this book, Wilson apparently stopped believing, which, for all I know, may have been influenced by his up close research on those great minds who were swayed by the Age and arguments of Darwin It doesn t mar the book, because he treats this subject with complete respect, according believers and non believers equal time But from what I hear, Wilson now believes again. This is a very good read, is very well researched, and provides a wealth of information on the Victorians and their social context It was very hard to put down, despite its massive length One of the problems Wilson has, though, is his annoying tendency to either misread or misunderstand Marx This is due, I think, in large part because of his sympathy for British forms of socialism based in Robert Owens It s clear Wilson has read Marx, and not just the Communist Manifesto But despite his knowledge he continually mis characterizes Marx s position, conflates Marxism with Leninism or, worse, says that certain things Marx could never have imagined when, in fact, those things form a fundamental part of Marxist theory For example, Wilson claims that Marx could never have imagined that the aristocracy could have died out mainly because of the vast plethora of suburban citizens by the end of the nineteenth century Actually, Marx himself predicted this the aristocracy were a part of the feudal relations of production hanging on into the era of capitalist relations of production that s who all those suburbanites were petit bourgeois or outright capitalists who would, according to Marx, eventually come to replace the remnants of the feudal aristocracy Again, Wilson quite rightly castigatess Kitchener s cruelty in spreading the Empire, but refuses to acknowledge that contemporary culture still bears responsibility for such crimes because we continue to benefit from them Wilson would not have his position as a writer or as an academic if Britain had not accumulated so much wealth through its imperial atrocities Wilson should continue to decry what was done in the past, but also needs to step up to the plate and admit the continuing benefit we all reap from that horrible period of history Despite such disingenousness, Wilson s book is a valuable reference work on the Victorians and their time. I didn t finish this book although I did think it was decent There is some really good information in here, but it was kind of slow going and I had a lot of other stuff going on My main complaint is that Wilson assumes the reader already know a lot of the figures he s talking about This would probably be the case if I was raised and went to school in England, but as an ignorant US citizen, I kept going, Who What s that And then I would have to consult Google and it was very disruptive to the reading experience If he d just inserted little dependent clauses, like John Potatohands, the Queen s royal potato planter, was a man of letters, instead of just being like John Potatohands was a man of letters, it would have helped me out a lot It was a library book that I put down a while back, but soon after I picked it up again and started reading a chapter a day I ran out of renewals I get the feeling that it is quite informative I learned a lot in just the bit I read and I would like to come back to it when I have time patience for its format and style. Hmmmm.for the best book about the Victorians I ve read, it s not the first I d recommend or the highest I ve rated I d start with The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, unless you re already big into history.This book is erudite, so much so that I missed a lot of things that the author assumed I knew, and the chapters jumped around in a way that I sometimes couldn t follow Nevertheless, I feel like I have a good sense of who the Victorians were and how they changed over time It s complicated.If you re looking for a focus on the late Victorians, you should also start elsewhere this has a much stronger focus on, say, the 1840s to the 1870s Lots of politics and philosophy, and how those things became so nobly and tragically realized.NOT light reading Very toothsome. If you only ever read one book on the Victorians, this is the one to read Wilson doesn t invent anything new the categories are familiar We start with the bad old England that Victoria inherited, work our way through the Chartists, Peel and the Corn Laws, the terrible 40s, the Italian influence, doubt, Mesmerism, Albert, the Great Exhibition, the Reform Bills, the Crimean War, Afghanistan, and on and on Wilson is a wonderful storyteller, and he fills in the bare bones of history with lots of nice connections, curious biographies, and back stories His history is people based rather than movement based or full of impersonal forces And, of course, if you look at the Victorian era through that lens, there s plenty to amuse you, from Gladstone and his hypocrisy to Disraeli and his wit to the unwitting Freudianisms of Goblin Market to Charles Dodgson s creepy pictures of Alice Liddell, and so on virtually forever Wilson is an excellent writer with a novelist s eye for bringing history to life Just don t look to this book for any fresh or systematic thinking about the Victorians But there s plenty here to keep all but the most dedicated professional historian busy for a good long time Read this in conjunction with Dickens or Thackeray or Eliot, and you ll soon have a rich, dense idea of the fabric and incident of Victorian life. Where do you begin if you want to read a broad, deep, erudite overview of a large historical topic Usually, it requires looking to older scholarship big histories are rarely attempted by academics these days Next stop is the unfairly maligned genre of popular history, which relies on the synthesis of secondary sources and is unburdened by the need for complete academic originality.That was my dilemma when I first picked up A.N.Wilson s epic The Victorians, almost at random Wilson is a non academic, but a reputable and excellent writer on a range of topics On the surface, The Victorians relies on a straightforward framework, covering the era one of the few with finite beginning and end dates by decade from Victoria s coronation in 1837 to her death in 1901 But it also offers a teeming, dense substructure of cultural, intellectual and social interconnections beneath the hood.Wilson s approach is both vertical and horizontal He surveys the historical record but offers a continual stream of thematic cross references over time, almost frenetically The Victorians requires a great deal of attention to detail as personages and ideas submerge and reappear, Wilson often makes minimal or at best, oblique reference to their original context But that s a minor complaint about a book that is a rare tour de force.