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The Lives and Exploits of the Most Noted Highwaymen, Rogues and Murderers (Paperback)

P&S History > Social History P&S History > True Crime

By Stephen Basdeo
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 160
ISBN: 9781526713162
Published: 11th September 2018



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For as long as human societies have existed there have always been people who have always transgressed the laws of their respective societies. It seems that whenever new laws are made, certain people find ways to break them.

This book will introduce you to some of the most notorious figures, from all parts of the world, who have committed heinous crimes such as highway robbery, murder, and forgery. Beginning with Bulla Felix, the Roman highwayman, this book traces the careers of medieval outlaws such as Robin Hood and Adam Bell. Early modern murderers also make an appearance, such as Sawney Beane, whose story inspired the cult horror movie The Hills Have Eyes (1977). Learn also about the crimes and daring escapes of Jack Sheppard, an eighteenth-century criminal who escaped from prison on several occasions, and find out if the ‘gentlemanly’ highwayman, Dick Turpin, was truly a gentleman. the ruffian Dick Turpin.

This book also includes an appendix of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thieves’ cant, as well as several historical poems, songs, and ballads relating to the subjects discussed, and the work is prefaced with an essay highlighting the significance of crime literature throughout history.

Basdeo is carving out a nice little niche for himself with books combining true crime and scholarly history. Roll on his book about Robin Hood though.

Ripperologist, January 2019 – reviewed by Paul Begg

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Loved it
Really enjoyed reading this book. I learned a lot about some famous criminals like Robin Hood and his legend/myth and also about some lesser known characters like Jack Sheppard who seems to have been a bit of a rascal. This is a history book, however so a bit heavier than a normal true crime book would be and there is a lot to digest in it.

Amazon Customer

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Fascinating Look at 18th Century Crime
Author Stephen Basdeo has written an entertaining book, whisking readers 200 to 300 years into the past to introduce and reintroduce us to some of the notorious figures of the 1700s. The truths, myths, and legends of Robin Hood are discussed in an early chapter, and I gained new knowledge and a deeper understanding of a character who has been with me for most of my life. Some of the others talked about I had heard of but knew little about (such as Dick Turpin), while others like Jack Sheppard and Jonathan Wild had to be introduced.

The author provides interesting background, detailing why certain books were written or the prevailing mood of the country at that time. Some of the stories and legends we have become accustomed to hearing are explained, or placed in a different light. For those who find this book has whet their appetite for more stories of 17th and early 18th century highwaymen, the author provides an extensive bibliography offering even the most prolific readers years of history and scholarly works. Read the full review here

Netgalley, reviewed by Dee Arr

Stephen Basdeo did an excellent job of conveying the reader into history. It's obvious he did a lot of subject research and enjoyed sharing it with us. I'm recommending this to my true crime fanatic friends!

NetGalley, reviewed by Denice Langley

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

For being a relatively short book, there is a lot of well-researched information provided here. Who doesn't love a good story about thieves, robbers and murderers? It's even more exciting when you know that you are reading non-fiction.

I liked the author's approach to writing this book, looking at the surviving historical fact and then comparing it to literature and film, particularly when he was talking about the many incarnations of Robin Hood. I was also happy to see that he chose some lesser well known figures to shed light on. This would be a great book for anyone interested in English history.

As a fellow writer, I found this book fascinating and one that I look forward to reading again. Definitely recommended.

NetGalley, reviewed by Ionia Froment

I thought this book offered a good read. It was informative and well written

NetGalley, reviewed by Sue Blanchard

Article: Fact or fake news? Dick Turpin: Carry On film ‘Jack the lad’ or violent thug? as featured by

East Anglian Daily Times, 5th October 2018 - words by Steve Russell

He [Stephen Basadeo ] is very thorough and it reads a bit like a school textbook.

NetGalley, reviewed by Svea K

It's serves as a decent introduction to those it features.

NetGalley, reviewed by Lauren Stoolfire

This book has a very clear audience, and I don't think I'm it. It was very well researched and you can tell the author worked really hard. I'm just not the person it was intended for.

NetGalley, reviewed by Kymberly Whitacre

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Readers of True Crimes and history this is a must read book and can't be missed.

NetGalley, reviewed by Heidi Wimmer

Deep research has gone into this book, and each chapter offers a cohesive view of one of the rogues and brigands who preyed on the citizens and travelers of the road. While I wasn’t always happy with some of the translations earlier in the book (I thought I did better on my own and that the author altered the meanings of the words at times), it was easier to disregard the translations and just enjoy the rest of the book. This is a great look at a small slice of history. Four stars.

NetGalley, reviewed by D.R. Gerstein

I admit that I have never heard of some of the criminals, which made the reading really enjoyable though some crimes were appalling. The most valuable part for me were all the references to the law and social background of the period together with detailed explanation why at a certain point there were no more highwaymen. A very good read!

NetGalley, reviewed by BEATA B.Reviewer

Overall this was well thought out and researched.

NetGalley, reviewed by Sara Garry

About Stephen Basdeo

Stephen Basdeo is a historian and the author of several history books and academic journal articles. He has also co-edited and published transcriptions of primary sources for academic publishers.

The hanging of Claude Duval

21st January 1670

Claude Duval was hanged at Tyburn Tree Gallows in Middlesex on 21 January 1670. He was once described as “the most noted highwayman that ever was executed in Great Britain”. He was known to be especially polite and civil in his thieving of stage coaches, especially when there were women present.

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Robin Hood The Life and Legend of An Outlaw (Hardback)

Robin Hood is a national English icon. He is portrayed as a noble robber, who, along with his band of merry men, is said to have stolen from the rich and given to the poor. His story has been reimagined many times throughout the centuries. Readers will be introduced to some of the candidates who are thought to have been the real Robin Hood, before journeying into the fifteenth century and learning about the various ‘rymes of Robyn Hode’ that were in existence. This book then shows how Robin Hood was first cast as an earl in the sixteenth century, before discussing his portrayals as a brutish…

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