"The Slow Burning Fuse is a meticulous, accessible and riveting account of the British anarchist movement. John Quail introduces us to the anarchists of the Socialist League, explores the early history of the Freedom group, describes the murky world of police spies and agents provocateurs, and shows how small groups of anarchists in London and Sheffield animated working-class movements at the turn of the twentieth century. Quail's rich history is also an unflinching reflection on anarchist organising. Examining the personal feuds that plagued the movement and the political disagreements generated by the incidence of violence in France, Quail shows how internal divisions exacerbated the problems created by systematic police repression. Anarchist utopian aspirations are easily romanticised or mocked. Quail avoids both and instead invites us to weigh up the value of spectacular actions and consider the effectiveness of strategic initiatives. The result is a passionate but sober defence of anarchist politics and movement building."
–Ruth Kinna, author of Kropotkin: Reviewing the Classical Anarchist Tradition
"The book is important and groundbreaking, though Quail was mainly interested in action rather than theory, describing the discussion of theory as 'balls-achingly boring.'"
–Peter Ryley, author of Making Another World Possible
"The Slow Burning Fuse remains the most readable book on the history of British anarchism. It's also a wise book. Quail gives his opinion clearly and sensibly."
–Kate Sharpley Library
"Quail's researches have led him to uncover a number of near-forgotten incidents and personalities... The book is informative and well worth reading."
–Paul Bennett, Socialist Party of Great Britain