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  • Published: 4 May 2024
  • ISBN: 9781847927088
  • Imprint: Bodley Head
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $37.99

Broken Archangel

The Tempestuous Lives of Roger Casement

The extraordinary, inspiring and ultimately tragic story of Sir Roger Casement, a remarkable man who led a life ahead of his time

Pioneering human rights campaigner, patriot, traitor, romantic and martyr. Broken Archangel is the life of Roger Casement, one of the twentieth century’s most complex and compelling figures.

In 1904, Casement became internationally celebrated for unearthing the grotesque, murderous violence of the Belgian Congo. Soon after he won even greater renown and a knighthood for his humanitarian work deep in the Amazon jungle.

But his internal fault lines ran deep: neither fully Irish nor English, baptised both Protestant and Catholic, desperate for love but forbidden intimacy, betrayed in his only significant relationship, he was of the English diplomatic establishment yet an outsider who fought for Irish nationhood. His final act in wartime Berlin – a doomed scheme to promote an invasion of Ireland – overwhelmed him, although his subsequent trial for treason brought him some resolution even as it took him to an unmarked prison grave.

Compassionate, self-deluding, courageous, altruistic, and plagued by poor health, Roger Casement was a contradictory figure made fallible by contemporary mores and his own powerful, unexamined emotions. Only decades later did an Irish state funeral finally assert his nobility above his notoriety – and only now can we fully understand his surprisingly modern and deeply relevant life and legacy.

  • Published: 4 May 2024
  • ISBN: 9781847927088
  • Imprint: Bodley Head
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $37.99

About the author

Roland Philipps

Roland Philipps went into publishing on graduating from Cambridge and until recently was Publisher of John Murray. He has edited some leading novelists, politicians, historians, travellers and biographers. A Spy Named Orphan, his first book, arises from lifelong connections to Donald Maclean and his story.

Also by Roland Philipps

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Praise for Broken Archangel

This minutely researched, superbly written and genuinely exciting biography explores and ultimately convincingly explains the historical conundrum that was Sir Roger Casement. I can’t remember turning the pages of a non-fiction book so eagerly to find out what happened next, secure in the knowledge that with Roland Philipps I was in the hands of a master-storyteller

Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill

One of the many outstanding things about this book is that Philipps has managed to yoke together the extraordinarily disparate sides of Roger Casement’s character into a comprehensible whole. In doing so, he has rescued him from the ignominy to which he has been unjustly consigned.

John Preston, author of A Very English Scandal

Roland Philipps’s comprehensive, perceptive and sympathetic biography does full justice to Casement’s odyssey from dysfunctional Ulster boyhood, through imperial service campaigning for exploited native workers, to his eventual execution as a nationalist revolutionary. It is a rich and compulsively readable treatment of the most extraordinary of Irish lives

Roy Foster, Emeritus Professor of Irish History, University of Oxford

A superb portrait of an enigma. Roland Philipps has produced a masterful biography, full of compassion and verve. In bringing Casement to life, he has resurrected a figure who deserves to be known as the first modern human rights campaigner, one who saved countless lives and gave voice to those who could not be heard, before being undone by some of his deepest and innermost divisions. This is a vivid, poignant and hugely moving account of an extraordinary life

Henry Hemming, author of Agents of Influence

Patriot, human rights campaigner, knight of the realm, traitor. Roger Casement was a complex, appealing, deeply flawed man. In Roland Philipps, he has found the biographer he deserves. This meticulous, sympathetic, elegantly-written account gives one of the 20th century's most controversial and tragic players the attention he deserves

Michela Wrong, author of In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz

Phillips is sympathetic to his subject and a careful chronicler of diplomatic and intelligence intrigues … he makes a persuasive case that Casement was a fractured personality who embraced causes to fill an emotional void


Casement is the Odysseus of Roland Philipp's epic, Broken Archangel, and Philipps is a worthy chronicler. It is a book of meticulous sensitivity and research ... It is a model, in other words, for how to write a biography of a gay person who lived before widespread acceptance

Daily Telegraph

[An] extraordinary biography … Philipps [is] an accomplished biographer with a knack for getting under the skin of his subjects … There’s a wonderful immediacy to this portrait, as if Casement sits in the room with us, discussing his life, revealing his secrets

The Times

Meticulous and sympathetic ... [a] fine book

Literary Review

Vivid and compelling

Irish Times

[An] authoritative and impressively clear-sighted biography ... A vivid and striking portrait of this deeply conflicted man

Irish Independent

Roland Philipps' calm, authoritative and sympathetic new account surely comes close to being definitive

The Tablet

Tells the story [of Casement] at a cracking pace

Inside Story

[A] well-researched and engagingly narrated biography … For those looking for an accurate, fluidly written account of Casement in his own era, this biography is easy to recommend … [his] treason trial are ably transformed into a page-turning finale

History Today

The chief virtues of Broken Archangel are its compact size and energetic narrative. For the stranger to Casement’s life, this is the book to buy

Times Literary Supplement

An excellent introduction to a vexed era in British and Irish history

Scottish Legal News

Remarkable ... Broken Archangel is an exceptionally well researched and psychologically shrewd portrait of his deeply lonely idealist

Irish Independent *Best Books of 2024*