If you were to stop 100 people in the street, I wonder how many would ever have heard of Arthur Thistlewood. Come to think of it I wonder even how many Historians would be able to tell you much about him. I graduated as such over 40 years ago and I think I may just have been about able to connect him with a vague idea of something called "The Cato St Conspiracy". Ah poor Arthur. As he stood on the gallows in front of a vast crowd on Mayday 1820, with four other companions, all of them noosed and pinioned, he may have thought to himself "well at least I'll be remembered". Not by many, Arthur, not by many. Which is more than surprising because the reason he was about to be launched into eternity was as the leader of a plot to assassinate the whole British Cabinet.In the event, like the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, it was really something of a set-up by the establishment. Arthur and his cohorts had been entrapped by an agent provocateur and on the evening of the intended massacre they found themselves quickly rounded up by The Bow St Runners and soldiers from the Coldstream Guards. All over bar the May arrangements outside Newgate Prison I'm afraid. This book is an excellent account of the events which led up (via The Peterloo Massacre) to the arrests in Cato St, the scene of which exists to this day just off London's Edgeware Rd. It may be some grisly consolation to Thistlewood et al, that he did not swing completely into oblivion.
I've wanted a book about the Cato Street Conspiracy for years but for whatever reason I never got round to buying one. So when I finally bought 'Enemies of the State' I was more than happy, everything I needed to know was there. The book is written in a clear and concise style which I believe is something that a lot of authors should take note of. I can heartily recommend this book, buy it and I can say that you will not regret it.
Although Wharncliffe Books are notorious for their enormous output of low quality true crime books, I took a chance on this one being an exception. Not so, it turned out: it is dull and unengaging, and seems to have been written in a hurry. The now out-of-print 'The Cato Street Conspiracy' by John Stanhope makes more sense than this one.