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Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot Paperback – October 13, 1997
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Gunpowder Plot has long been highly controversial. Catholic apologists have claimed that the whole thing was invented by Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, King James' chief minister, and master of a vast intelligence network, with the assistance of Sir Edward Coke as Crown Prosecutor. Protestant apologists claim the Plot was real, the danger was real, and only narrowly averted (by God's special favor).
Antonia Fraser is a leading popular historian of the Tudor and Stuart periods of English history, as well as an accomplished novelist. She writes well, tells stories lucidly, and has a demonstrated command of the period. In "Faith and Treason," she strikes a balanced note. Yes, there was a plot. But the danger was not very real--Salisbury discovered the plot early, the gunpowder was defective, and Salisbury left it in the basement to be dramatically discovered so that the discovery would have maximum political effect. She makes a compelling case.
Fraser is sympathetic to the Catholic plotters, recognizing that they had been pushed too far, but she also doesn't hesitate to call them traitors and terrorists. Contrary to what some reviewers have said, she is not an apologist for either side. Instead, this is a fair and balanced account, written with the verve and style of a novel. Highly recommended.
She doesn't adequately explain why the English government, in the person of chief minister Robert Cecil, sits on the information and does absolutely nothing when he learns of the plot. Surely if there were 30 barrels of live gunpowder hidden under the House of Lords, Cecil might want it removed? But he doesn't even arrange a search for ten days or so. Fraser hints that one of the plotters, Francis Tresham, may have been a government spy, and therefore that Cecil knew of the plot from its inception, but she doesn't carry this idea through to its conclusions. Furthermore, she hasn't explored the possibility that plot leader Robin Catesby was an agent provacateur who deliberately set up the Jesuit priests by telling them about the planned explosion under the seal of the confessional. Nor does she question why the powder delivered to the Tower was all decayed and wouldn't have exploded anyway. Nor does she explain why 36 desperate armed men fail to harm a single member of the government's forces sent after them.
As a result Fraser's book seems somewhat naive to me.Read more ›
The style is exciting and intriguing, which provokes that rare desire to keep on reading. The book is written with a clear aim of showing how and why the Gunpowder Conspirators found themselves acting as they did and it shows the many flavours of opinion which existed at the time. Most intriguing is the way Ms Fraser reveals the opposition the plotters faced from the Catholic establishment and the extent to which the King and Government created the situation in which some people felt driven to attempt Regicide on a grand scale.
An exciting read with strong academic value.
First, the story and the history is much more interesting than I had anticipated. I've been sort of "grazing" British history and got this book because it certainly qualified. As Fraser notes, Bonfire night isn't much in the U.S. having been usurped by Halloween and Thanksgiving, and I'd only vaguely heard of Guy Fawkes. The "true" story isn't as simple and uninteresting as "Disgruntled Guy Fawkes tries to blow up Parliament and gets caught," as per some popular stories. I've read a lot about Henry VIII and this story very much complements his story- Henry separates the English church from the one in Rome, setting off a chain of events that lasted for years (even to this day)- This book is about one of those events. If you are at all interested in following the consequences of actions through history, you'll like this.
Which leads to my second point- Fraser does a wonderful job of putting the story in perspective. Not only does she inform you as to the history, culture, sociology (role of women in particular) and the religious environment that led to the plot to blow up James I, his heirs, and Parliament (and likely some innocent pigeons), but she also indicates how the plot still affects current thinking and events (citing such examples as Nelson Mandela).
Finally, she does a great job with the story itself. Given the large cast of characters, the fact that I said "Wait, who is that again?" only a few times is very much to her credit. The story is very thorough with numerous citations and explanations of her interpretations of historical actions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lots of great info on the Gunpowder Plot. Fraser really dug into the history and all avenues of the story. She's a great writer.Published 11 months ago by Susan K. Dunaway
My husband is reading it right now and he hasn't been able to put it down! :)Published 14 months ago by Johanna Orozco
While this book is well written and interesting when the author sticks to the factual data, On the whole I would be very hesitant to recommend it to someone not already grounded in... Read morePublished 15 months ago by D. L. Davis
The book is in my pile "to read" and I will get to it later when I have time, there are other books in line first!..Published 21 months ago by Sharon F. Ogden
I am a l novelist who believes that writers in the historical fiction genre should never depend just on Wikipedia for research, because they will miss the subtleties. Read morePublished 23 months ago by LINDA A. ROOT
Lady Antonia Fraser is a gifted writer (we all know this) and her insights were original, well researched, precise and the book was most informative to me, an Englishman who grew... Read morePublished on January 29, 2014 by Nigel
This is an excellent book whether for an English History Fanatic or someone who is more new to the subject.Published on February 13, 2013 by Alex Wentworth-Ping