A Why Spencer Perceval Had to Die by Andro Linklater

69%

11 Critic Reviews

And on the conspiracy theory spectrum, Andro Linklater’s account is more Da Vinci Code than Rosetta Stone.
-Total Politics

Synopsis

At approximately 5:15pm on the afternoon of May 11, 1812, Spencer Perceval, the all-powerful Prime Minister of Great Britain, was fatally shot at short range in the lobby of Parliament. His assailant was John Bellingham, a man who blamed his government for not intervening when he was unjustly imprisoned in Russia. The killer made no effort to escape in the confusion; remarkably, he firmly believed he would not only be exonerated, but applauded, for his action. But he was not to enjoy relief; a week later, granted the briefest of trials that trampled his right to due process, he was hanged.
In A Political Killing, Andro Linklater examines Bellingham's motives against the dramatic events of his time with the eye of a skilled forensic examiner and the determination of the finest detective. Though small in stature and quiet by nature, few prime ministers have enjoyed Perceval's power; he was also Chancellor of the Exchequer, and as such, in a time of economic disaster caused by the naval blockade against Napoleon's France, which he endorsed, Perceval nonetheless made the decision to sustain Wellington's army in Spain against Napoleon; sent troops to Ireland to compel the loyalty of dissident Catholics; and raised taxes to new heights to finance his activities. Bellingham's act opens a fascinating window onto the western world at the height of the Napoleonic Wars and the start of the War of 1812. At the same time, Linklater investigates, as nobody appears ever to have, the movements and connections of John Bellingham to answer the same questions that have been asked ever since JFK's assassination: Did he act alone? And if not, who aided him, and why?
 

About Andro Linklater

See more books from this Author
Andro Linklater is the author of Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy as well as The Code of Love and several other books. He lives in England.
 
Published May 8, 2012 by Walker Books. 305 pages
Genres: History, Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for A Why Spencer Perceval Had to Die
All: 11 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Excellent
Mar 01 2012

Linklater cloaks a valuable history lesson within a dark, dramatic story.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by John Barrell on May 11 2012

His case is impossible to prove, but too plausible and too much fun to ignore.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Mar 12 2012

Linklater (Measuring America) has written a richly atmospheric, engrossing, and authoritative account of an assassination that, Linklater notes, shook the world 200 years ago as forcefully as JFK’s assassination did in our time.

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WSJ online

Excellent
Reviewed by Jeffrey Collins on May 14 2012

Written with novelistic pace and the literary devices of a potboiler, the book is really two in one.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Bruce Anderson on Apr 28 2012

There is only one problem: an entire lack of evidence.

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Express

Below average
Reviewed by Aline Reed on May 13 2012

In a way, that is one of the least interesting aspects of the book because Linklater strays too far into speculation.

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Historical Novel Society

Below average
Reviewed by Veronika Pelka on Aug 01 2012

Linklater presents his evidence like a seasoned prosecutor and has us well convinced of a likely conspiracy, but in the end, the most damaging evidence still seems circumstantial.

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Macleans

Excellent
Reviewed by Brian Bethune on May 08 2012

But Linklater, despite not much liking the victim, makes a convincing case that Perceval deserves to be remembered for far more...

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The Roanoke Times

Good
Reviewed by Richard Raymond on Jun 10 2012

... despite the efforts of his outstanding defense attorney to portray him as a madman, Bellingham was speedily sent to the gallows by a judge and jury bent on exacting vengeance. An exposition of how matters arrived at this state is the work of a brilliant and diligent author.

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Literary Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Leslie Mitchell

Andro Linklater makes good use of the excellent copy that this story affords.

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Total Politics

Below average
Reviewed by Nik Darlington on May 11 2012

And on the conspiracy theory spectrum, Andro Linklater’s account is more Da Vinci Code than Rosetta Stone.

Read Full Review of A Why Spencer Perceval Had to...

Reader Rating for A Why Spencer Perceval Had to Die
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