A Devilish Kind of Courage

The tale of a notorious 1911 London gunfight, the ‘Siege of Sidney Street’, and its consequences.

More details of the book on the publisher’s website…

On 3 January 1911, in the heart of London’s mainly Jewish East End, police discovered Latvian revolutionaries wanted for the murder of three officers. A six-hour gunfight ensued, with a fire consuming the besieged building. Winston Churchill, then Home Secretary, arrived at the scene and ordered the blaze not to be extinguished. Afterwards two charred bodies were found; the elusive Peter the Painter, believed to have been the ringleader, remained at large. This gripping episode, known as the ‘Siege of Sidney Street’, was a nationwide sensation and ignited fierce debates on immigration to Britain, political extremism and law enforcement. This book unravels the full story of the siege, the Latvian émigrés and their ties to the vibrant anarchist movement in London’s East End.

Andrew Whitehead is a historian and journalist, an honorary professor at the University of Nottingham, and was an editor of History Workshop Journal. During a long career with the BBC he was a radio presenter, a foreign correspondent and latterly the Editor of BBC World Service News. His publications include Curious Crouch End (2021).