Book reviews by Steve Earles

Historical rebellions

The Gunpowder Plot Deceit by Martyn R. Beardsley

The Gunpowder Plot is still a very significant part of the fabric of British society to this very day (though this year it was Boris Johnson rather than Guido Fawkes that was burned in effigy).

We all think we are familiar with the tale… but are we? Are we actually the victims of 17th century fake news?

Certainly the government of Britain would have much to gain from such a plot (as long as it failed), enabling them to increase their powerbase through fear of the Catholic faith and enabling them to increase public hatred of Catholics still further.

Like all good investigators, Martyn Beardsley asks the important questions. Such as how could Robert Cecil, one of history’s most notorious spymasters not have known of the plot? How did the plotters dig a big tunnel and remove tons of spoil without being noticed? Are there any records of anyone having seen such a tunnel?

Well-researched, and putting its ideas across well, this book would make the basis for a most interest documentary.

Published by Pen and Sword History:

Rebel Guerrillas: Moby, Quantrill and Anderson by Paul Williams

This is a well-written and researched book about a part of the American Civil War not as well known as the more famous set-piece battles.

John Singleton Mosby fought a relatively civilised war, but William Clarke Quantrill and William ‘Bloody Bill’ Anderson were synonymous with brutality.

The brutality shown by both sides is sickening, and one of the many good achievements of this book is to destroy any illusions of either side about the ‘romanticism’ of war.

The American Civil War turned brother against brother and neighbour against neighbour. It was sadly and wisely said, ‘in war, laws are silent,’ and this fine book very much proves that.

Published by McFarland:

Russian Civil War: Red Terror White Terror, 1917-1922 by Michael Foley

It’s a tragedy that more people don’t know about the Russian Civil War, as it was one of the pivotal wars of the 20th century and we are still living in the world it helped create. Had the Bolsheviks lost the Russian Civil War, we would be living in a very different world today.

So kudos to Pen and Sword for publishing this fine and very readable book, which is a very good starting point for anyone wishing to study the Russian Civil War in depth.

Michael Foley is a fine writer, and is to be complimented on his work on this book.

The design and illustrations are particularly impressive. Many books on the Russian Civil War are often not best served by their illustrations but this book truly comes alive with them.

Essential for anyone with an interest in this pivotal war.

Published by Pen & Sword

Steve Earles is author and co-author of numerous projects, including To End All Wars: The WWI Graphic Anthology, available summer 2014 (