From a hunchbacked dwarf to a paranoid poet-assassin, a history of Victorian England as seen through the numerous assassination attempts on Queen Victoria while she ruled the British empire. During Queen Victoria’s 64 years on the British throne, no fewer than eight attempts were made on her life. Murphy follows each would-be assassin and the repercussions of their actions, illuminating daily life in Victorian England, the development of the monarchy under Queen Victoria, and the evolution of the attacks in light of changing social issues and technology.
There was Edward Oxford, a bartender who dreamed of becoming an admiral, who was simply shocked when his attempt to shoot the pregnant Queen and Prince consort made him a madman in the world’s eyes. There was hunchbacked John Bean, who dreamed of historical notoriety in a publicized treason trial, and William Hamilton, forever scarred by the ravages of the Irish Potato Famine. Roderick MacLean enabled Victoria to successfully strike insanity pleas from Britain’s legal process. Most threatening of all were the “dynamitards” who targeted her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee - signaling the advent of modern terrorism with their publicly focused attack.
From these cloak-and-dagger plots to Victoria’s brilliant wit and steadfast courage, Shooting Victoria is historical narrative at its most thrilling, complete with astute insight into how these attacks actually revitalized the British crown at a time when monarchy was quickly becoming unpopular abroad. While thrones across Europe toppled, the Queen’s would-be assassins contributed greatly to the preservation of the monarchy and to the stability that it enjoys today. After all, as Victoria herself noted, “It is worth being shot at - to see how much one is loved."
©2012 Paul Thomas Murphy (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
This book is well written and very well narrated. It successfully weaves together a history of the Victorian era, a sort of joint biography of Victoria and Albert, the story of the evolution of policing, and a number of CSI-like crime stories. I was afraid all that would be too much to get in a not-so-very long book, but it was not the case. I enjoyed each episode (which is clustered around one of the six or seven assassination attempts) as a stand-alone and the weaving of all of them together to make an entertaining history.
I like to weed and read at the same time.
This is one of the best books I have listened to. I knew nothing of the attempts on Victoria's life and their effect on her reign: the first one rescued it. The relationship between the Queen, Albert, the court and the police and how these attempts helped to modernize the police force and establish Albert's place in England are well researched and described .A really good detective story taken from records of the time.
That said I wish I had read it.
The narrator is not English and went to no effort to do his homework regarding speech patterns. Victoria was raised by her German mother and a German confident. (Albert hardly spoke English when he first married Victoria). The Upper class accents are ridiculous and if he had done some preparation he would have known the correct pronunciation and emphasis for a multitude of names places and things. An L is a pound an S is a shilling ,a d is a penny. Lazy and irritating ;however the narrator's voice is clear and his speech is fluent with no unnecessary histrionics.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I found this a fascinating book. Murphy goes into detail about each of the eight people that attempted to assassinate Queen Victoria. He also covers some detail about Queen Victoria and her family that helped to create a picture of that period in time. Each of the men that that attempted the assassination were found to be mentally ill. I discovered a pearl of information I was unaware of, Daniel McNaughton was one of the men (he also tried to Kill the P.M. Peel) and he was acquitted in 1843. The first man was tried and executed under the High Treason Law the next also acted like the first and reveled in the attention he was paid. The government then tried to find a way of dealing with the mentally ill so they would not get the attention they craved and not be changed with treason. Everyone was unhappy with how McNaughton was handled. So Queen Victoria and her counsel posed a series of hypothetical questions about the deference of insanity defenses to a panel of Judges. The result from the Judges became known as the McNaughton Rule and is still used today throughout the commonwealth and the USA. It is the standard test for criminal liability in relation to mental disorders. It is also a shame that in 173 year plus we not improved the mental disease problems related to crime or the care and treatment. The book was well research but did ramble a bit in the middle of the book. Mark Whitten did an acceptable job narrating the book. I think a British narrator would have been more appropriate choice to have narrated the book. Overall I learned a great deal from the book. If you are interested in history this is a book for you.
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