Charles I beheaded, and what went before up to the point of the subtitle -- the Civil War per se. Mr. Alderman relates briefly the beginnings of reining the sovereign (Magna Carta to Bloody Mary), then in detail the events of Charles' rule -- primarily the continuous struggle with Parliament over prerogatives generally, over finances and religion specifically. The author's facts and interpretations are in order, but his narrative is marred by occasional foolish fictionalization (Charles to Buckingham in Paris: ""We'll go to the Louvre and see what the royal family is doing"") and by frequent interruptions to examine the drapery, etc. It's the sort of popularization that is popular in juveniles; the question is whether it's suitable to the somewhat recondite subject. The first phase of the fighting, up to Charles' capture, is covered only in his flashback; the second is treated briefly from the point of view of the captive. Actually this is Charles' story throughout; as such it is adequate but neither succinct nor incisive.