The Protector – the Fall and Rise of Oliver Cromwell
By Tom Reilly / www.tophat-books.com
“It is very nice to have one of the most familiar episodes in Oliver’s career brought so vividly to life. In general the story reminded me of the 1970 Richard Harris film in being at once vividly imaginative and fundamentally true to character.”
Prof. Ronald Hutton.
Behind every legend there is a human being. A member of a family. A member of a community. A citizen of a nation. The Protector lifts the veil on the legend of Oliver Cromwell to reveal the man that lies beneath. The gentleman farmer, the unsophisticated Puritan, who lived at a time of huge upheaval and change in the history of an empire. Gripping from start to finish, packed with tension and drama, this book of ‘faction’ proves that it’s possible to develop some sympathy for the devil.
Using documented facts as its base, the narrative brings to life one of the most divisive figures in Anglo-Irish history. Cromwell is often, at best no more than a bogeyman, and at worst, a genocidal, religious fanatic. The author has taken the step of presenting Oliver Cromwell's life as a sort of work of fiction - making for a much more sympathetic understanding of a man to whom history has been far from kind. In the narrative, rather than being a distant, almost mythical figure, Cromwell is shown to be neither bad and not good, but very human indeed and full of human frailty, just like the rest of us.
Through a fast-paced narrative and insightful dialogue Cromwell’s true character is revealed in the social and political context of his times, and the personal tragedies he suffered to give a greater understanding of what motivated his military and political careers. To see Cromwell as a child, a man, a husband and a father is totally at odds with the image of a warmonger that is usually associated with him.
A distinctively realistic depiction that bristles with controversy, sex, love, civil war, slaughter, intrigue, redemption, and perhaps the ultimate crime of all - regicide. Cromwell is like marmite: the quintessential paradox. Every effort has been made to accurately weave real people and actual events around a narrative of historical precision. Meticulously biographical in its substance, the plot is predetermined by factual events that enthral and inform. Cromwell’s personality explodes from the pages. There is a primary source reference for almost every incident. He is credibly portrayed as a tender father, an admirable man and a reluctant overachiever. The unrelenting pace of the action truly reflects Cromwell’s compelling life story. The chapters are short and every one of them has both a gripping opening and closing. The ensuing movie is almost predictable.
A welcome departure from the usual narrow political and military narrative of the Interregnum period of English history. There is a wealth of the social and political world of the early to mid-1600s evidenced, and the author demonstrates a very detailed appreciation of all that should go into making a subject come alive - in this case from a thorough knowledge of the architecture, language, community, religious life and cultural norms of the period.
Insights are presented into what formed the adult man - how Cromwell's religious beliefs were informed by his childhood lessons and how, after a series of personal crises and financial difficulties, he came to believe utterly in his God and the afterlife. How these beliefs contributed to Cromwell's developing social and moral conscience is highlighted, leading in time in his burgeoning political career and eventual rise to Lord Protector.
The Protector also gives us the benefit of a pocket-sized history of the Cromwellian period in Irish history Clarity is presented on the complicated subject of the background to the English Civil War - a necessary adjunct to forming an understanding of what drove Cromwell and his New Model Army to change the landscape in the first place.
While the narrative is driven by the use of the fictional device, this only serves to give us a more balanced view of Oliver Cromwell, clearly a man of many contrasts. We see Cromwell as a gifted military leader and sometimes reluctant politician. He was a huge part of a turbulent period of history that changed the English political system for ever.
There is hardly a more controversial figure in Irish history. Cromwell is a man shaped by circumstances who needs to be judged in the context of his times. Like the proverbial onion, the layers peel away revealing a much more complex character than the one-dimensional Caricature of Cromwell that has been presented by history through the centuries. This is no dry history either. There are dramatic turns, and the story moves at an animated pace. This book puts Cromwell in context and asks the fundamental question, if we have judged him by reputation or by fact.
It was inevitable that someday Oliver Cromwell’s life story would be written in fictional form. Cromwell expert, historian and published author Tom Reilly hails from Drogheda, where Cromwell is erroneously accused of wholesale genocide. The author has been responsible for four books on the subject to date: Cromwell at Drogheda (1993), Cromwell: An Honourable Enemy (1999), Cromwell was Framed (2014) and Cromwell and Ireland, New Perspectives (2021).
Published author, local newspaper columnist and amateur historian Tom Reilly’s tour de force, Cromwell: An Honourable Enemy has now appeared in four iterations. The Protector – the Fall and Rise of Oliver Cromwell is his latest attempt to get the message to the masses that Cromwell did not commit civilian atrocities.
The author has almost single-handedly taken on the might of academia with regard to Cromwell and the allegations of his complicity in civilian massacre stories in Ireland, the seemingly incontrovertible verdict of history.
He has appeared on national TV and radio in both the UK and Ireland in both documentaries and chat shows. His books on Cromwell have been reviewed by all of the national newspapers in Ireland and many in the UK, including one on the front cover of the book supplement of the Sunday Times. Tom is also the brainchild behind, and Project Manager of, Cromwell and Ireland, New Perspectives published in 2021 by Liverpool University Press, where eleven academics have contributed essays.
A distinctively realistic 'all killer - no filler' fictional biography that bristles with controversy, sex, love, civil war, slaughter, intrigue, redemption and - perhaps the ultimate crime of all - regicide. Every effort has been made to accurately weave real people around a narrative of historical precision. Meticulously biographical in its substance, the plot is predetermined by a landscape of true events that both enthral and educate. Perhaps controversially, the subject is credibly portrayed as a tender father, an admirable man and a reluctant overachiever. The unrelenting pace of the action truly reflects Cromwell’s compelling life story. Think you know Oliver Cromwell? Think again!
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