Reviews /

The Battle of Cable Street

Authored by Tanya Landman
Illustrated by Sara Mulvanny
Published by Barrington Stoke Ltd

I bought this book for the library and put it on the shelf safe in the knowledge that it was a Barrington Stoke title. I admit, like Tanya Landman, I had never heard of the Battle of Cable Street! I knew the name Oswald Mosely, about fascism and of the plight of the Jews but not in the context of what went on in Stepney. None of this story is pretty, the reality of what happened is shocking. However, Tanya Landman tells us the story, the build-up of tension and the eventual standoff in Cable Street. She doesn’t gloss over the horror but she doesn’t sensationalise it either.

The story focuses on Elsie and Mikey. Life is tough for them and their families. After their mother died their grandmother moved in to look after them whilst their father looked for work. Tensions run high in Stepney at the best of times but this heightening of tension, the arrival of antisemitic bully boys, the rise of Oswald Mosely and his followers have a dreadful and damaging effect on everybody. It took courage and faith to stand up to Moseley and his thugs but against all the odds these ordinary folk did. Let down by the government of the day and the authorities they had no choice but to take matters into their own hands.

This is a thorough and interesting insight into this important but hidden event in our history. The story deals with some very complicated and complex issues but through good storytelling we can feel the tension and emotion of this terrible time.

As always with Barrington Stoke, the story is perfectly paced with accessible language with great relatable characters that are interesting. The Battle for Cable Street holds the readers interest from start to finish. An excellent addition to the classroom or library with lots of scope for discussion. I wish I had read this much sooner.