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The Real Guy Fawkes (Hardback)

Social History Biographies

By Nick Holland
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 230
ISBN: 9781526705082
Published: 9th October 2017


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As featured by the Yorkshire Post: Freedom fighter or terrorist? Who was the real Guy Fawkes?

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Guy Fawkes, born in York in 1570, is one of the key figures in British history, taking a central role in a plot that would have destroyed the ruling class and changed the nation forever. Today protesters wear his mask, families burn his effigy, and he is an instantly recognisable name and face. But just who was the real Guy Fawkes? In this new book, we take an exciting look at the flesh and blood person behind the myth. We find out what radicalised the man who was born a Protestant, and yet planned mass murder for the Catholic cause. The book takes a fresh look at Guy's early life in York and beyond, and examines how that led to him becoming a Catholic mercenary and a key member of the 1605 Gunpowder treason.

This fresh new biography of Guy's life removes the layers of complexity that can cloud the British history of this time: an era when fearful Catholics hid in tiny priest holes, government spies were everywhere, and even your closest friends could send you to be hung, drawn and quartered. Guy and his conspirators were prepared to risk everything and endanger everyone, but were they fanatics, freedom fighters, or fools? This explosive read, accompanied with beautiful illustrations, is accessible and engaging, combining contemporary accounts with modern analysis to reveal new motivations behind Guy's actions.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Having just watched and enjoyed the TV show Gunpowder, this book was a big interest to me.

Born in York in 1570 Guy Fawkes is a figure I have always wondered why we celebrate him in the way we do.

This is a heavily researched book and the author digs deep to find the answers to many questions and facts.

It is worthy of anyones shelf and should be read by all, I am sure it will amaze and delight the history buffs.

NetGalley, reviewed by Tracy Shephard

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A very detailed book and I can say that the author has done extensive historical research on the subject. It's not long as much as other history books and is comparable to a novel for the smoothness of the text - which makes it accessible to most readers. Often what we know about the Gunpowder Plot and its conspirators is limited to some movie or television quotes (V for Vendetta, Gunpowder). Thanks to this volume, the reader is able to gain a deep understanding of the problems that have led to Plot, as well as to the Plot itself. Definitely recommended.

NetGalley, reviewed by Alessandro Mana

What drove Fawkes to such fury? That is the question Holland seeks to answer. His is a very thorough biography on Fawkes analogous to the sleuthing done by Robert Cecil, the royal administrator whose spy network stopped Fawkes. As a biographer, Holland—also known for a book on Anne Brontë—is firmly in the camp of those who see the times as shaping individuals, not vice versa. Although he spends time discussing Fawkes' childhood and formative experiences, he makes it quite clear that in an earlier age Fawkes would have lived a comfortable life unmarked by controversy.

NetGalley, reviewed by Robert E. Weir

As featured in

Yorkshire Post

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A timely book given that Bonfire Night is soon upon us!

NetGalley, reviewed by Eileen Hall, October 2017

This book is short, only 230 pages, and could easily have added another 100 without becoming boring. I doubt it would become dry either as Nick Holland has a wonderful writing style – easy to read and personable. I felt he knew his subject and cared for him. It’s the first book I’ve read by the author but I’d happily read more and, I think, for anyone who wants an introduction to the events leading up to November 5th, 1605, this is a brilliant place to start. Liked this a lot!

NetGalley, reviewed by Emma Littlefield

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

All I knew about Guy Fawkes before reading this book is that he tried to blow up the Parliament and failed. The end.

The book is very detailed and you can tell Holland has done extensive research on the topic. Yet it isn't overly long like some history books can be. It reads well, almost like a novel at times, so it is accessible to most readers. At the end, the reader is left with a deep understanding of the issues that led to the plot, as well as the plot itself. Definitely recommended!

NetGalley, reviewed by Camille Brown

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The book gives an excellent background on the conflicts between the Catholics and the Protestants in England. One does not need to be an expert in English history to understand this book.

Furthermore, the story of the Gunpowder Plot itself reads like a thriller. It is very faced past, full of plots and intrigue..

In summation, if one wants to read a very entertaining book about a piece of history that is like an action movie but still has relevance for today, one could not do better than this book.

NetGalley, reviewed by Celia Moses

About Nick Holland

Nick Holland was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire in 1971. He is a best selling fiction writer, who has now become a successful non-fiction author. His recent biography of Anne Brontë was critically acclaimed, with the Mail On Sunday calling it 'an excellent book full of passion and pathos'. Nick has long been fascinated by the story of his fellow Yorkshire Catholic Guy Fawkes, and this new biography allows him to reveal the man behind the myth.

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