Book Notice: Leviathan

Understanding the British Empire can be particularly challenging for American scholars, especially those of us whose work often intersects with some aspect of its long influence on Native American history.  Most helpful in making sense of British history is David Scott’s new book Leviathan: The Rise of Britain as a World Power.   

Chosen as one of the “Best History Books of the Year” by History Today, winner of the Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature (2013), and appearing on the Foreign Office Ministerial Reading List (Summer 2013), Leviathan is attracting the attention of scholars around the world. 

David Scott is a Senior Research Fellow at the History of Parliament Trust and a member of the Yale Indian Papers Project’s Advisory Board.  He has formerly taught at both York and Yale Universities and was a research associate of Peterhouse, University of Cambridge.  His previous book (for Palgrave) Politics and War in the Three Stuart Kingdoms 1637-49 was chosen by the Sunday Telegraph as one of its Books of the Year in 2004.  


“Thoughtful, entertaining and elegantly written … Amid the flood of new books on the making of the British Empire, Leviathan stands out as one of the best.  Much of the book’s strength lies in its uncompromising insistence on the importance of institutions and politics … There are delightful character sketches and witty asides” Sunday Times

Leviathan deserves to be widely read; Scott negotiates vast terrain with clear, lively prose and weaves his argument around vivid pen portraits and telling anecdotes … Above all this is a stirring narrative” History Today

“Challenging and erudite … perceptive … Scott is superb when he casts his eye on the culture of the times … [his] telling of this vast series of contingencies is masterful. Epic in scale, shrewd in judgement, utterly convincing, Leviathan demands the widest possible readership” Literary Review

“Scott covers several hundred years, and yet the pace never flags. His pages are lit up with brilliant pen-portraits of the protagonists, while never losing sight of the deeper structures within which they were operating. Much of Scott’s picture is familiar from the existing literature but it has never before been put together as such a compelling ensemble. Leviathan should be on every school and university booklist.”  The Telegraph

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