Book Reviews

Here you will find our book reviews. To filter the books by ‘type’ use the menu below. Books, as well as most of the content on this site, are also grouped by Subjects, Tags (keywords) and Projects.

Voyage of Despair. The Hannibal, its captain and all who sailed in her, 1693-1695

Bristol Post book review: "Brecon Town Council honoured a slave ship captain with a memorial plaque in 2010! Rosemary L. Caldicott's book Voyage of Despair looks both at Phillips journal and other sources to reveal the absolute horrors of the trade in general and the Hannibal's journey in particular. It also examines the campaign and arguments around the plagues removal. It's an issue that Caldicott makes clear... the business of enslaving people, and the profits made on the back of it, reach […]

Kurdish Women’s Movement: History, Theory, Practice

By Dilar Dirik

Front cover of Kurdish Women's Movement featuring woman in landscape
Dilar Dirik, Kurdish Women’s Movement: History, Theory, Practice (London: Pluto, 2022). “Our defence is not for a piece of land, but for the protection of life’s ability to unfold itself” (Nûda, member of the YPJ, the women’s defence units, 237). This is a meticulously researched and critically argued book from an author writing not only about but from within the Kurdish women’s movement. In the West, Dilar Dirik is one of the most prominent and articulate voices on the role of women in the […]

City Pit

Memoirs of a Speedwell miner

By Fred Moss
This 70-page booklet, City Pit: memoirs of a Speedwell miner, tells the story of Fred Moss who lived and worked in east Bristol as a collier in several different pits. Fred starts his story as a boy, telling of a strong community, living difficult hard lives but with sturdy solidarity in the face of adversity. He describes the benefits of mutual aid and respect in an area dominated by mining and associated trades, in a community which has largely passed and is now a historical memory. He […]

Legacy of Violence

A History of the British Empire

By Caroline Elkins
This is a very long – 777 pages – but very important book. Subtitled “A History of the British Empire”, it not only exposes the violence on which the Empire was built but also reveals the way in which systematic attempts were made to conceal it from journalists and historians. Caroline Elkins, based at Harvard University, is one of the historians who were determined to reveal the truth. She is not inhibited about naming those historians who have accepted the Colonial Office version of past […]


A Waterbiography

By Jenny Landreth
Swell is both a waterbiography of Jenny Landreth’s personal swimming experiences, and a history of women’s struggle to gain access to indoor baths and outdoor beaches and lakes. She pays tribute to her many “foremothers” who campaigned for women to enjoy freedom of movement and excel through the emancipatory activity of swimming. These included the doughty Elizabeth Eiloart, novelist and representative of the Ladies National Association for the Diffusion of Sanitary Knowledge, who successfully […]

Haunting Ashton Court

A Creative Handbook for Collective History Making

By edited by Elinor Lower and Jack Young
“Mishmash” is the term the authors of this book use to describe their various working methods. It is also an accurate description of the book itself which contains not only the performance script of the Haunting Ashton Court production but also its sources and inspiration, some creative writing, a toolkit for similar productions and a wise afterword. Plus – totally new to me – QR code sections that enable a reader with a smart phone to see and hear parts of the live production. I confess that […]

Bad Blood in Georgian Bristol

The murder of Sir John Dineley

By Steve Poole & Nicolas Rogers
Another excellent book by Steve Poole and Nicolas Rogers, highlighting a period in Bristol’s rich history. The main part of the book relates to the murder, in 1741, of Sir John Dineley by his brother Samuel Goodere. The crime took place on a ship which was captained by Goodere and the actual murderers were able seamen under his charge. But the book is much more detailed than that and is richly researched and written. The narrative delves into various aspects of Georgian Bristol. Without spoiling […]

Bristol 650

Essays on the Future of Bristol

By Amy O'Beirne and Andrew Kelly (editors)
“What happened to the ladder?” asks Annabel Smith, pointing out that Bristol is one of the least socially mobile urban areas in the country. Smith is one of thirty-seven contributions to Bristol 650, produced by Bristol Books to mark the 650th anniversary of Bristol becoming an independent county. The editors, Amy O’Beirne and Andrew Kelly, wanted their chosen essayists to focus on how to build a better Bristol for the future. But some contributors prefer to focus on the here and now and […]

Mary Frost, Wife, Mother, Chartist

By Sylvia Mason
I enjoyed this book as it is an easy read and Sylvia Mason painted a graphic picture of the times - Mary Frost's shop and home, the 1839 Chartist uprising in Newport, the family, the rallies and the spies. "Were any of the injured men bandaged and fed by the Frost women and helped to get home"? Initially I was a little irritated by the questions Sylvia Mason posed as there was no 'real' evidence, however, I soon appreciated it as a way of telling Mary's story which set the scene of the times as, […]

A Very British Conspiracy

The Shrewsbury 24 and the Campaign for Justice

By Eileen Turnbull
Houses of parliament with storm clouds
This is an account of the case of the Shrewsbury 24, one of the longest, if not the longest, campaign to overturn injustice in this country. The Shrewsbury 24 were building workers convicted of various charges arising from picketing during the 1972 national building workers’ strike. The book takes us back to a very different time when there were 12 million members of trade unions in the country and a wave of strikes which led to the defeat of the Conservative Government by the National Union of […]

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