Most helpful critical review
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Interesting narrative, but.......
on 9 April 2014
I listened to this book on Audible, and it seemed to me that, while providing a good narrative of the events surrounding the attempted terrorist plot of the 5th November 1605, the reader (or listener) has to be very aware of Ms. Fraser's clear religious leanings. Once one makes allowances for that (and those allowances do need to be considerable in parts) the book rattles along at a fair pace and provide a decent picture of life among the persecuted Catholic minority during the turn of the 16th century.
What it does NOT do is to provide any sort of insight into the reasons behind the treatment of the Catholics by the Protestant Government, nor does it suggest whether the vast majority of Protestants were for or against that treatment.
While providing great and interesting detail (in a Foxe's Book of Martyrs sort of a way) into gory executions and tortures, exciting chases into Priests Holes and worthy and staunch Catholic women, there is no real examination of why the Protestants had arrived at the position of persecuting their fellow-countrymen. There is no mention at all of the persecution of Protestants under Queen Mary, and little indication of the fear in many people's psyche, of foreign (particularly Spanish) invasion, with the attendant threat of Spanish Inquisition.
The plotters themselves have always come across to me as a bunch of rather evil-minded incompetents to be frank, and nothing in this book has made me feel any different. The arch-demon, Cecil is depicted as a zealot and a devil, but realistically, one would hope that his natural successors are still in charge!!
Many times while listening to this book, which was written in the late 90's, I was left wondering whether the book would be any different had it been written post 9/11
I know more about the period now than I did before, which is the hallmark f good history, but treat with care!!