Shooting Victoria: Book summary and reviews of Shooting Victoria by Paul Thomas Murphy

Shooting Victoria

Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy

By Paul Thomas Murphy

Shooting Victoria
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2012,
    512 pages.

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Book Summary

During Queen Victoria's 64-year reign, 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 evolving 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 - who signaled 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."

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Reviews

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"Starred Review. Murphy manages to keep the plentiful threads concise yet entertainingly informative, showing readers connections between the failed regicides, their real or imagined motivations, and the monarch who 'with unerring instinct and sheer gutsiness, transformed each episode of near-tragedy into one of triumphant renewal for her monarchy.'" - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Murphy's detailed rendering sheds entirely new light on the queen's strengths and her many weaknesses." - Kirkus Reviews

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Paul Thomas Murphy earned his BA from Boston College, his MA from McGill University, and his PhD from the University of Colorado. He teaches interdisciplinary writing on Victorian topics at the University of Colorado and sits on the board of the Victorian Interdisciplinary Studies Association of the Western United States. He currently resides in Boulder, Colorado.

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