Swift wrote a lot of history. Gulliver’s Travels excepted, his History of the Last Four Years of the Queen is his only narrative substantial enough to claim a volume of its own in Herbert Davis’s edition of Swift’s prose writings. Yet most scholars (myself included) have ignored Swift’s historical writing; many have anachronistically dismissed it as callow partisanship unworthy of the name ‘history’. In Swift and History, Ashley Marshall shows that we neglect these works at our peril, for history was central Swift’s thinking about politics and society. In a detailed survey of his historiographical milieu, she observes that his Graeco-Roman predecessors apart from Livy discussed relatively recent events in which they themselves had participated—as Swift wanted to do. Other recent English histories were, like Swift’s, intensely partisan, including Clarendon’s history of the civil war (which...

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