It's not often that you get a book about a specific event in Irish history that can claim to comprehensively cover the happenings from all angles and in great detail - along with being entertaining and educational. Carlo Gébler's 'The Siege of Derry' does all that and more.
This book outlines the events that led to Derry being besieged and explains what happened inside the city over the course of 105 days from late 1688, after the apprentice boys closed the city gates to the army of the Catholic King James II.
Gébler explains in breathtaking detail the great threat that King James' crown was under from William of Orange and thus why and how the siege developed. He takes the story across the channel and explores the role that Louis XIV of France took. Indeed, the Siege of Derry was of Europe-wide interest.
Gébler draws on accounts and surviving records of the siege from all sides, which gives his book a balanced, even and fair structure. Many other publications that have covered the event simply took sides - and you can easily tell which side by the title of the book. Some refer to 'The Siege of Derry' and others to 'The Siege of Londonderry'. Nobly, Gébler says he intended to emulate the stance of BBC Northern Ireland - Londonderry first and Derry thereafter.
He also gives plenty of background historical information before getting into the nitty gritty of the siege itself, outlining generally how the Protestant and Unionist population came to settle in that part of our island and how those living there were moved out.
One of the few complaints with this book is that the sheer volume and depth of information can be a lot to take in. Readers may find themselves going back a page or two to recheck or reread a portion as the author covers so much ground.
For anyone with the vaguest interest in this period of our history, Carlo Gébler's 'The Siege of Derry' is well worth reading. It is certainly the most comprehensive tome available.