Peter Gwyn, 20 December 1984
Two very different books by two professors at English universities. That written by Professor Ashton is a bad book of a kind that is all too common, that by Professor Scarisbrick is good, perhaps very good, but of a kind that is now all too rare, in that it was written for the simple, old fashioned reason that its author was passionately interested in imparting his views. Professor Ashton, writing to meet the requirements of the A-level student, seems never even to have decided what he really wanted to tell us. It looks as if at one stage he may have had it in mind to engage with Christopher Hill, whose heroic efforts to persuade a sceptical English audience that during the 17th century some kind of Marxist revolution occurred in England, leading to the rise of such things as capitalism and science, will be familiar to all those with any interest in this period. Indeed, it might be thought that so familiar are Dr Hill’s views, and so telling the many criticisms of them, that a book which took them as a major theme might now be redundant.