Jacob Rees-Mogg’s book The Victorians sells just 734 copies

Jacob Rees-Mogg's book The Victorians has been ridiculed in reviews. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Imag

Jacob Rees-Mogg's book The Victorians has been ridiculed in reviews. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images

Jacob Rees-Mogg's book The Victorians - Twelve Titans who Forged Britain has flopped, selling 734 copies in its first week after a critical thrashing in the press.

The £20 hardback, consisting of 12 short biographies, was quickly recognised as an ideological project by everyone including Amazon reviewer N.Entwistle, who added: "It is a shame there isn't less than one star because it isn't worth the one star I gave it."

All but one of the great Victorians on whom we should mould our lives are men, and politically-connected ones at that (the only female Victorian of note being, er, Queen Victoria).

Rather than being a work of history, said A.N. Wilson in the Times, The Victorians is "a dozen clumsily-written pompous schoolboy compositions", which are "in fact yet another bit of self-promotion by a highly motivated modern politician."

The Guardian's Kathryn Hughes agreed, adding that even considering it as a thinly-veiled manifesto "is to dignify The Victorians with a coherence it doesn't possess".


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Both Hughes and the New Statesman's Richard J.Evans noted how poorly-researched it is, with a bibliography of just 60 books.

Atrocities of the British Empire are almost completely swept under the carpet, noted Evans.

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But "who needs up-to-date information when all you have to do is rearrange the old stuff until you get the story you want?" said Hughes.

The result, she argues, is lumpy and self-contradictory.

The Sunday Times headlined its review "bad, boring and mind‑bogglingly banal", while the Observer called it "a mirthless morality tale for the 21st century".

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