Mediocre book on Elizabeth I

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Wallace McCaffrey's Elizabeth I isn't bad enough to bitch about. I don't even have much to say about it. I might not have been so strongly disappointed if I hadn't read a couple of strong histories of the Henrican reformation shortly before opening it.

The jacket copy brags that this is the first history of Elizabeth I's reign by a scholar in several decades. Sure sounded promising. The prose ranges from the sloppy to the pedestrian.

After reading almost five hundred pages I didn't feel that I knew Elizabeth, her times, her rivals and admirers any better than I did from the couple of popular histories I read many years ago. (The chapters of Mary Queen of Scots were exceptions.)

I don't know if McCaffrey simply has no skill for evoking individuality. It did occur to me that he might have failed by writing down to his audience. Possibly from having spent years in classrooms with bored students.

There's no reason to read this book instead of the many standard popular biographies.

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