Reviewing history

More historical fiction book reviews by Steve Earles

Cornwall: Romans to Victorians by Derek Tait

One of my earliest memories is a childhood holiday to Cornwall, indeed to this day I still have a keyring from that holiday as a keepsake.

I also have a great nostalgia for the original Poldark tv series (though not the charmless remake).

As I had expected, Cornwall has a long and fascinating history, stretching from prehistoric times to the Norman Conquest, the harsh Tudor Period, the English Civil War, and beyond.

And of course, the area has a rich history of myth, including a strong connection with King Arthur.

Well-written and well-illustrated, this book is a must for anyone with an interest in Cornwall.

Published by Pen & Sword

Henry The VIII And The Men Who Made Him by Tracy Borman

Once in a while you have the pleasure of reviewing a book whose central idea makes you go ‘why as no one ever thought of this before?’ Such a book is Henry VIII And The Men Who Made Him.

We have been inundated with a veritable Tudor Tsunami of films, books and documentaries on Henry and his wives, so much so that it has overshadowed the stories told in this fascinating book. Borman’s Witches is one of the best books I have ever read on this subject, and her latest work lives up to her high standards.

In some respects Henry VIII was like Stalin, destroying or discarding the men he raised up. Yet a good writer and researcher always sees more than one dimension in their subject, and Henry was capable of kindness and loyalty too.

Essential for anyone with an interest in the Tudor period, and it would make a great documentary.

Published by Hodder:

The Great Famine: Irish Perspectives

Edited by John Gibney

The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s, also known more commonly as ‘The Great Famine’ or ‘The Great Hunger’ is a defining event, not just of modern Irish history but of British history (Ireland was a colony of the English in those dark days, like so much of world, and as in India for example, they left disaster in their wake), and indeed, world history.

Over a period of five years, the Irish population of 8.2 million was reduced to 6.5 million through disease, starvation and emigration. And think on this, Ireland was next door to its colonial master, England, with the richest empire on Earth… and still this was allowed to happen. The legacy of this is still felt today; witness the recent success of the excellent film Black ’47.

It’s a fine idea for Pen & Sword to collaborate with History Ireland on this project, producing a fine and accessible book on a complex and emotive subject. Apart from the text being excellent (which is no surprise, given the calibre of the talent involved, both Pen & Sword and History Ireland deserve praise for the excellent illustrations. There are many fine books on the Great Famine, but few as well illustrated as this one.


Published by Pen &

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