Few books have ever piqued the public imagination quite as enduringly as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, published in 1726. Naturally, today’s readers remain intrigued by satirical passages about European government and otherworldly discussions about human nature. Young readers in particular love to imagine being in the wondrous land of Lilliput, or taking a voyage with Gulliver to mythical islands like Brobdingnag, Laputa, and Glubbdubdrib.

When it comes to Swift, the Irish cleric and satirist who wrote this magical story, he was as complex and intriguing an individual as his best-known protagonist.

John Stubbs’s book Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel is a superbly written and researched examination of the literary figure. Stubbs, an Oxbridge-educated English historian, earned...


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