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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The resurrection of the unknown!, 15 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Why Spencer Perceval Had to Die: The Assassination of a British Prime Minister (Kindle Edition)
I first came to know the name of Spencer Perceval while reading an excellent biography of George Canning (by Wendy Hinde) some years ago. I'd never heard of Spencer Perceval up until that point, especially not as Britain's only assassinated prime minister. Subsequent reading about the Napoleonic wars had shed some light on his career and death at the hands of a bankrupted "deranged" merchant in 1812, a few weeks before Wellington's famous victory of Salamanca. All of this additional background information left me with a new appreciation of a forgotten actor in Britain's long and proud history but such was the scant detail that Perceval's "humanity" and contribution to history remained as elusive as possible. After scouring the internet for a specialised biography (second-hand or new) came up a blank, Amazon directed me to Linklater's work which I subsequently purchased on Kindle earlier this week. I had read some of the reviews that spoke about the errors and the stretch in believable conspiracy theories that had too much of a US (or X-Files) flavour but in the absence of anything else I decided it was worth a punt. My conviction was not disappointed. Linklater's examination of Perceval and Bellingham was extremely interesting and at times convincing. He acknowledges that his assertions are stretched but he has attempted to resolve the "mystery" with the best and most recent evidence available, and in the absence of an alternate theory then he should be given credit. Both protagonists have been written out of history and that is fact so Linklater's revival is timely and justified. The threads of the conspiracy, if there was in fact one, are at time difficult to follow but the gaps in the history invite supposition but there is a need to provide a more fulsome explanation to account for Britain's first an only "political killing". The trade arguments are most likely one true explanation but if Bellingham did have a sponsor, and the London payments certainly suggest he did, this part of the story will probably remain hidden. Certainly, the extant, almost throwaway explanations for the killing, namely that Bellingham was some crazed bankrupt do not hold true any longer. Linklater's account is a promising start to what should spur on further investigation and I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand who Perceval was and what forces his personality unleashed on the world of the early nineteenth century.
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