Gunpowder Plots: A Celebration of 400 Years of Bonfire Night by Brenda Buchanan, David Cannadine, Justin Champion, David Cressy, Pauline Croft, Antonia Fraser, Mike Jay; God’s Secret Agents: Queen Elizabeth’s Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot by Alice Hogge - review by Selina O’Grady

Selina O’Grady

Remember, Remember

Gunpowder Plots: A Celebration of 400 Years of Bonfire Night

By

Allen Lane 188pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

God’s Secret Agents: Queen Elizabeth’s Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot

By

HarperCollins 445pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

Ever since Samson brought the temple crashing down around his and the Philistines’ heads, we have ricocheted between admiration and hatred of civilian killers of a civilian enemy. Are they the morally tortured terrorists of Camus’s Les Justes, fatally misguided, but reluctantly believing their violence is justified? Or are they the loathsome, amoral losers of Conrad’s The Secret Agent, who want to bomb their way out of their own powerlessness with no thought for their victims?

How, for instance, should we consider 5/11? Religious fanatics plan to strike at the heart of Crown, Church and State. If they succeed, hundreds, maybe thousands, will be massacred. The plot failed; the terrorists are now looked at indulgently. So will we, from the safety conferred by the distance of

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