Book recommendations about 18th Century

HareBrain

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Having made the shocking discovery that the War of the Spanish Succession was not the same thing as the Seven Years War, I've decided that my knowledge of the early-mid 18th Century is too puny to be borne, and I'd better improve it. Does anyone have recommendations for books about this period, ideally (but not necessarily) covering the whole century to about 1770 (and thus both wars).
 

The Judge

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I've a shed-load (well, a small box full...) of books about the C18th, but with one exception they're all on the social side of English life, which won't help much. The exception is 1759 by Frank McLynn, subtitled "The year Britain became Master of the World" which deals with "the struggle for global hegemony between Britain and France" -- 1759 being the fourth year of the Seven Years War. It's perhaps a bit too tightly focussed for you to begin with, since it does deal just with the year (though obviously bringing in background both in the Introduction and where necessary in the text) and all the battles including Quebec and Quiberon, but it might be worth a look if you want to go in depth once you've got the overall picture of the century fixed.
 

paranoid marvin

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In relation to fiction, although I haven't read the novel upon which it was based, the movie Barry Lyndon covers much of the period you are looking at. It's an enormously entertaining movie and the cinematography is exceptional (although you would kind of expect that from a Kubrick movie). A bonus (for me at least) is the exquisite narration by Michael Hordern.

I have always found fiction to be the best introduction to historical periods. Reference books may tell what happened and why, but rarely suggest the the thoughts and feelings of the people who lived (and died) through them. Through fiction we often determine a different motivations and inspirations, and get a true feel for the true reason why events panned out the way they did.
 
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Teresa Edgerton

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Like TJ I have some excellent books on the 18th century but they are on the social side of life. Not all of them about England, though. In fact, my favorites are about Venice, Rome, and France. Nothing about the wars of the period, alas, but if and when you have found out all you need to know about the wars and politics and that sort of thing, for whatever project you are working on (if indeed there is such a project and not just an interest) and you want to fill in some of the background details of day to day living in this period, I can recommend some books.
 

HareBrain

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In relation to fiction, although I haven't read the novel upon which it was based, the movie Barry Lyndon covers much of the period you are looking at.
I saw it years ago, and one of the reasons I'd like to know more about the history is to watch it again with the background filled in.

(although you would kind of expect that from a Kubrick movie)
Also Leonard Rossiter! It still amazes me that Rigsby/Reggie Perrin was in both 2001 and Barry Lyndon.

Reference books may tell what happened and why, but rarely suggest the the thoughts and feelings of the people who lived (and died) through them
The what and why is what I want to start with, but in any case a well-written history should cover the personal as well.
 

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I’d look for a decent book on the hapsburgs and/or bourbons. That should cover a chunk of what you want. Also, Sweden was a major power then and it might be worth looking for a book on The Great Northern War (Charles XII, I believe, was the last monarch to lead an army on the battlefield).
There’s some reading recommendations in this wiki
 

Foxbat

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After having a hunt through my collection, I have a book called Early Modern Europe An Oxford History. It covers 1500 through to 1789. The seventeenth century sections are on colonies, faith, warfare and the enlightenment. You might find something like this helpful.
 

Venusian Broon

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I really quite enjoyed some of the Penguin history of Europe series. (I've got Christendom Destroyed 1517-1648.) So you might want to look up the next one in the series, The Pursuit of Glory 1648-1815. From memory they are a bit more on the academic side of things,i.e. trends, technological developments, economics, society rather than a straight & strict chronological telling of what happened year by year, but in many ways I kinda prefer that sort of history, especially as the time period deals with a vast number of things that happened all over the place.

It's also a different author from the earlier period book so can't vouch for him!

You can then go to other sources for very specific parts of the century, for example Osprey Publishing do miltary focused and much more 'traditional' chrononlogical type sort of history such as the Seven years war (if you can get your hands on it!)
 

sknox

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Both Cambridge and Oxford produce survey books. A look at my own shelves shows (all old stuff on account of me being old)
R.J. White, Europe in the Eighteenth Century, and of course
The Age of Voltaire, by Will and Ariel Durant.

That's it for me because the 18thc is really late for my interests. However, I can offer up this. Search on
eighteenth century europe bibliography site:edu

That search string should get you some sites with truckloads of references. You might have to look beyond the first results page. <g>

If you don't have access to a university library, then just hit up Amazon or Google Scholar with
history of eighteenth century europe

(also, try eighteenth century plus individual countries, or other specialized topics)
 

paranoid marvin

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I saw it years ago, and one of the reasons I'd like to know more about the history is to watch it again with the background filled in.



Also Leonard Rossiter! It still amazes me that Rigsby/Reggie Perrin was in both 2001 and Barry Lyndon.



The what and why is what I want to start with, but in any case a well-written history should cover the personal as well.

Yes, Leonard was a versatile actor and obviously Kubrick saw him as an actor he could work well with. A suppose to some extent his role in BL was somewhat of a comedic one, which would suit his talents.

Certainly as far as English history is concerned, it is a period which is represented quite poorly in terms of fictional work.
 

The Judge

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Not a book, but perhaps to help you on the way, history.org.uk has a number of podcasts on, surprise surprise, historical issues. A pamphlet I've got about them lists podcasts on such things as the South Seas bubble for GB domestic life, and C18th Franco-British rivalry which will presumably throw more highlights on general European history. That pamphlet is at least one year old and very likely a good bit more and even then they were adding podcasts each month, so there's undoubtedly more stuff available now. I've not listened to any of them myself yet, but I imagine the quality will vary from speaker to speaker if the live events we've been to are any guide.
 
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