By Allan Massie
Thomas Dunne Books, $26.99, 384 pages

The history of English kings and queens is a long, complicated, and often violent, story. From the Yorks and Lancasters, to the Tudor reign, to the Stuarts, they all left their mark on England by the ways they ruled and their violent battles with Parliament. They weren’t a dull bunch. In this work Allan Massie explores the entire Stuart line of kings and queens, from Robert II to Anne. The first few kings just ruled Scotland, and little is known about them. It is not until we get into the James line, especially James the VI and I (depending on what side of England you lived on). From there it was a steady decline until Charles I, who had his head cut off, and Charles II, which did not end much better. The Stuarts were generally a sorry bunch; they mismanaged the country many times and only a few died peacefully in bed.

This book is not an academic work, and the author doesn’t try to make it academic. Instead it is a general overview of this family’s history on England. Each chapter covers another Stuart monarch, the highs and lows, and what type of person they were. This book is designed for the average reader.

Reviewed by Kevin Winter