Warning: This post was published more than 9 years ago.
I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!
But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:
- My views might have changed in the 9 years since I wrote this post.
- This post might use language in ways which I would now consider inappropriate or offensive.
- Factual information might be outdated.
- Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.
Many thanks for your understanding.
It’s some time since I’ve done a book review – I’m rather behind. I have a feeling that I stopped writing them after realising that I was, well, bad at it. But you, the readers, seem to like them, and who am I to deny you the perverse pleasure of watching me struggle for words?
Anyway, this book, Jeremy Paxman’s latest commentary about our nation, made for a very interesting read. He essentially presents a well-argued case for retaining the monarchy, whilst recognising the manifold flaws, improbabilities, and injustices of the system. And, actually, I rather agree with his point of view – which, to some degree, makes for a less challenging and engaging read. It’s always more interesting to read things you disagree with, to force you to rethink your own point of view, but this book provided none of that for me.
Paxman uses an awful lot of history of our monarchy, and several throughout the world, to flesh out his argument, and there is obvious potential for this to become very dry and dull – a potential that, fortunately, is never fulfilled. Paxman crafts a cogent, coherent, and entertaining argument, presented with the wry, dry humour for which he has become renowned.
The real beauty of the book is in Paxman’s narrative. It would be easy for a title such as these to lose its narrative thread, but by providing a clear argument running throughout the book, Paxman manages to engage the reader and maintain their engagement, even when explaining complex historical events – albeit in a very accessible style.
Paxman provides a robustly constructed, irreverent, and entertaining guide to an institution he argues is simultaneously (and paradoxically) anachronistic, yet relevant and essential to today’s society. To a person like me – relatively poorly informed about British history – Paxman provides a great introduction and makes a clear argument for retention of the monarchy, whilst also allowing his trademark personality to shine through.
I thoroughly enjoyed On Royalty, and would happily recommend it.