Tag Archives: Politics



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Title The Byzantine World War
Author Nick Holmes
Publisher Matador (May 23, 2019)
Format Kindle, Paperback
Pages 233
Language English
ISBN # 1789017580 (ASIN: B07S7DGSGH)


Nick Holmes is a graduate of Cambridge University with degree
in history. He was entranced by the ancient walls that circle Istanbul, Turkey and became intrigued with Byzantium following a trip to the region. The juxtaposition of the modern and the ancient engaged him and surprised him. The massive escarpments over a thousand years old decorate the city with imposing battlements. Hagia Sophia, a key location in the events that transpire in his book still stands in testament to the events of the past that still color our world today. Holmes finds the important role of Constantinople and the fulcrum around which Europe and the Near East pivot to be a wonderful backdrop of the events that took place so long ago. Nick posits the importance of the period beginning in 1068 that leads to the first, of several, Crusades and its effect on modern history.


If you are the kind of person that loves to read history books that are not dry and stuffy, but engaging and conversational, then look no further. The Author, Nick Holmes, shares a style of writing not so different from Simon Winchester or Erik Larson. Well-constructed, and set in an important time in world history, Holmes posits his opinion on the what, when, and how of the now distant history. The Byzantine World War, is a perfect fit for teenagers or adults bookshelf, and is a must read for anyone who enjoys intelligently constructed concepts set against the context of tumultuous times.


The Byzantium World War is set at a time when the power of Rome was beginning to ebb and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) was beginning. Some of the Key locations of historic importance include; Anatolia, Byzantium, The Middle East, The Balkans, The Caucuses, and North Africa. The timeline is 1068-1097 and this book is written almost as a thriller in its style. The range of characters is extensive, and Holmes does a masterful job in recreating them and their foibles for the modern audience. It is  a must read for all those who want to extend their knowledge of pivotal historic events, and for those who enjoy their history made three-dimensional and easily consumed.


This book is a great primer for those who are looking to increase their knowledge of the rise of Turkey in the form of the Pax Ottomana, and the fall of Pax Romana. The book is written in an easily accessible style, in a clear, chronological order, and illustrated with images, maps and detailed timelines. It is an engaging look at past events that still have influence over our period of history. I would like to see a more extensive referencing and bibliography, as well as the addition of some footnotes. That said, I did enjoy the fact that the key players in the book are listed at the rear for examination. I really enjoyed reading this book and I have no hesitation in recommending it highly. It is a rare treat in the world of dusty, dry history books that such a pleasantly written, brief but comprehensive volume comes along. Although I received this book for review; I loved it so much, I bought a copy for my library.


My thanks go out to the following: NetGalley, Matador
and Amazon Digital Services LLC, for affording me the
opportunity to read this rare gem.

Hi there, our records show you are a frequent visitor to Litercurious and I wanted to say a personal thank you for your patronage. Thank you for liking and sharing our posts. Please feel free to reblog any or all of the reviews. I look forward to your valuable input again in the near future.



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Title The Devil’s Trap
Author James W. Bancroft
Publisher Frontline Books (February 19, 2020)
Format Hardcover
Pages 248
Language English
ISBN 10/13 1526718014 / 978-1526718013)
WARNING – This book is not suitable for children.


James W Bancroft has almost 23 years of writing experience with more than a hundred publications and articles in a variety of subjects. Most of his works are based in Victorian Military History and non-fiction. He edits and publishes as well as writes. Other books by this author include Rorke’s Drift, Published by Spellmount Ltd., (1988) and is still in print today. As well as The Rorke’s Drift Men, Published by The History Press Ltd., (1 May 2010). James W Bancroft is known primarily for History of Southern Africa, African Historical Biographies, Civil War Biographies.


If you are an avid reader of Adult historic non-fiction and/or you enjoy thrillers, then this book is most certainly for you. Those who want to understand the context of The British Empire, are educators, students of history, or academics will find this book enlightening and disturbing in equal measure.


The events described in The Devil’s Trap surround the preamble to the First Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, specifically the Cawnpore Massacre, and the subsequent remedial actions taken by the British to re-establish control over the canton. Whilst this may not be common knowledge to many people, the Indian *(see 1 below) massacre that took place against a British encampment created a tidal wave of brutal and violent retribution. The subsequent retribution in response to the attack stains the present-day relationship between Great Britain and India. Some of the changes wrought following the rebellion were set in stone until 1947. Arguably the single greatest change was the promise made to the Indian people in a Royal Declaration (see below for a link) issued by Queen Victoria immediately following the mutiny. The author contends that some Indian citizens still believe that this event was the beginning of the end of the British Empires Rule of India.

The central theme and focus of The Devil’s Trap take’s place at Cawnpore, off the beaten track near an area called The Grand Trunk Road near Sati Chaura Ghat situated on the banks of the River Ganges. It was a British Garrison with three Native Infantry Regiments all led by British Officers accompanied by their families and servants. In July 1857 an insurrection was started by the Indian soldiers, elements of the general Indian population, and the servants who were either stationed at, or near the British encampment. British men, women, and children were subject to violence so gruesome I feel unable to detail it here.

Once the enormity of massacre was discovered, the British violently reestablished the status quo however, the Empress of India chose a more diplomatic method to quell the natives. Whilst politics and time have forgotten the victims of the Cawnpore Massacre, James W Bancroft has attempted to bring them back to life through his skillful use of original source material, and by cross referencing the facts still available in the archives.


Some experts speculate that the Raj was shaken by the mutiny but their corrective actions saved the rule by addressing the mutineer’s issues and the Empress’s Declaration. Native Regiments that took part in the insurrection were disbanded. Loyal Native troops were formed into new regiments which remained in effect from 1858 until 1947. Those local Warlords who remained loyal to the British during the rebellion were rewarded. The disloyal peasantry was prevented from obtaining access to land for 90 years. Finally, the British authorities recognized the error of imposing British cultural norms and beliefs upon the native population. This promise came through Royal channels when Queen Victoria gave a proclamation that stated “We disclaim alike our Right and Desire to impose Our Convictions on any of Our Subjects..” * (See 2 below)


The Devil’s Trap is exceedingly well written, researched, and is easy to follow for those previously unfamiliar with these ground breaking historic events. The Massacre was as shaking to the British Empire as 9/11 was to the USA. It was devastating in terms of the loss of human life, and changed forever the relationship previously enjoyed by the protagonists. Despite the loss of life, the British Raj continued beyond 1858 until 1947 pretty much without radical change.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


I would like to thank James W. Bancroft, NetGalley, and Frontline Books for affording me the opportunity to review The Devil’s Trap

*1. The term Indian is used a general reference to the Pashtu, Sikh, and Hindu people as a whole.
*2. You can find a copy of the proclamation here: http://www.csas.ed.ac.uk/mutiny/confpapers/Queen%27sProclamation.pdf


Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Daily Thomas Paine: A Year of
Common-Sense Quotes
AuthorThomas Paine (Author) (Author Editor Edward G. Gray)
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
ISBN #9780226653518


The eponymous Thomas Paine was the Enlightenment era Philosopher, Political activist, and some say Revolutionary. During his 72 years on earth, he made a lasting impression in the field of political science and philosophy. You can find out more about this extraordinary thinker here. Editor Edward G. Gray Professor of history at Florida State University.


Those unfamiliar with the importance of Paine as a philosopher will benefit most from this brief introduction of the man through his published thoughts.


The Daily Thomas Paine could be described as a conspectus or a brief compendium of the learned man’s published thoughts. The main work is proceeded by a comprehensive Forward that acts as context to the broader work. Structured as a standard calendar year beginning on January 1st, there are quotes on each page in bite sized nuggets of wisdom ending on 31 December. The manuscript culminates with a brief Index of Sources.


I don’t prefer this method of reductionism, and it provides neither a sense of the philosopher nor an adequate take on his concepts and perspectives. There are little gems of wisdom sprinkled throughout the text but they are too few and too brief. I never felt that this volume was a satisfactory salute to Thomas Paine’s great acumen or his humanity. I wish I could say that The Daily Thomas Paine would have made a primer for those who wish to gain some insight into the man, but I’m unable to do so. I found this book to be something of a disappointment and a wasted opportunity. You may hold a different view, but you will only know if you read it for yourself.


I would like to thank Thomas Paine, NetGalley, and University of Chicago Press for affording me the opportunity to review The Daily Thomas Paine.