Notes From the Margins…

Black Sun Rising

“A superior mystery. Carr excels at incorporating early 20th-century Spanish political developments into a suspenseful and clever plot line. Philip Kerr fans will be pleased.” , Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Carr combines fiction with fact (including historical characters). The result is a vivid portrayal of Barcelona’s ‘Tragic Week’ of political and social conflict, a skillfully crafted account that is ultimately as much history as mystery.”, Booklist

“Fans of Philip Kerr and politically tinged historical detective fiction should keep an eye out for this one. It’s a richly complex read, fascinating and provocative, offering a historical and political perspective that was as bracing as it was entertaining.”, Thrilling Detective


The Savage Frontier: the Pyrenees in History and the Imagination



Carr follows the routes taken by monks, soldiers, poets, pilgrims, and refugees. He examines the people and events that have shaped the Pyrenees across the centuries, with a cast of characters including Napoleon, Hannibal, and Charlemagne; the eccentric British climber Henry Russell; Francisco Sabaté Llopart, the Catalan anarchist who waged a lone war against the Franco regime across the Pyrenees for years after the civil war; Camino de Santiago pilgrims; and the cellist Pablo Casals, who spent twenty-three years in exile only a few miles from the Spanish border to show his disgust and disapproval of the Spanish regime.

The Savage Frontier is a book that will spark a new awareness and appreciation of one of the most haunting, magical, and dramatic landscapes on earth.

‘…an unwaveringly colorful tapestry of a beautiful, dramatic landscape. Its inhabitants past and present—shepherds, smugglers, soldiers, spies, saints, heretics, bandits, freaks—all pass in review in this meticulously researched love letter to the Pyrenees. —Stephen O’Shea, author of The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond.

‘Matthew Carr has climbed mountains of research as well as stone to stake his claim as the premier “pyreneist” of the age.’ —Franz Nicolay, author of The Humorless Ladies of Border Control

‘… a rich, deeply researched and absorbing history, full of extraordinary and surprising tales and an impassioned sense of the unique beauty of one of Europe’s lesser-known places.’ —Roger Crowley, author of Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire

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The Devils of Cardona


In this gripping historical thriller set in sixteenth-century Spain, a Catholic priest is murdered by a mysterious Muslim avenger as the Inquisition continues to force Moriscos to live and worship as Christians.

In March 1584, the priest of Belamar de la Sierra, a small town in Aragon near the French border, is murdered in his own church. Most of the town”s inhabitants are Moriscos, former Muslims who converted to Catholicism. Anxious to avert a violent backlash on the eve of a royal visit, an adviser to King Philip II appoints local magistrate Bernardo de Mendoza to investigate. A soldier and humanist, Mendoza doesn”t always live up to the moral standards expected of court officials, but he has a reputation for incorruptibility.

From the beginning, Mendoza finds almost universal hatred for the priest. And it isn”t long before he”s drawn into a complex and dangerous world in which greed, fanaticism, and state policy overlap. And as the killings continue, Mendoza’s investigation is overshadowed by the real prospect of an ethnic and religious civil war.

By turns an involving historical thriller and a novel with parallels to our own time, The Devils of Cardona is an unexpected and compelling read.

“The Devils of Cardona delivers a gritty, meticulously detailed story of suspense in sixteenth-century Spain. Matthew Carr recreates for us a dramatic time and place filled with complex characters and issues that resonate powerfully with our own time.” Matthew Pearl, author of THE DANTE CLUB and THE LAST BOOKANEER

“The Devils of Cardona is a remarkably well-written and entertaining novel. Mathew Carr fills his work with compelling characters and handles his material more than a little relevant for our times with dazzling grace.” –David Liss, author of The Day of Atonement

Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent, New Press 2012/Hurst 2016



‘This book will provide you with ammunition to use against those who would stoke up our fears, rather than banish them.’ – Nicholas Lezard,  The Guardian

“Sane and lucid, these dispatches from Europe”s increasingly militarised borders expose a human rights disaster unfolding in our midst. Matthew Carr brings humanity and a measured sense of history to a subject more often marked by hypocrisy and hysteria.” — Maya Jaggi, critic and cultural journalist

“With a relentless blade, Matthew Carr”s Fortress Europe exposes layer after layer of the dark side of the new Europe: the proliferation of militarised borders, brutal camps for immigrants and asylum seekers, and a burgeoning racism and xenophobia. This is a crucial book for anyone seeking to understand how dreams of unfettered personal freedom and mobility for all transformed into a Europe dominated by ranks of gates, cordons, biometrics and camps.” — Professor Stephen Graham, Newcastle University

‘The power of this stirring, authentic account comes from Carr”s ability to capture the refugee experience through his face-to-face interviews and his passionate observation of the current scene, including human trafficking, in which women and minors are forced to choose between deportation and exploitation.’— Booklist(starred review)

Sherman’s Ghosts: Soldiers, Civilians, and the American Way of War

‘A provocative, and at times maddening, argument about one of the most brilliant and destructive military minds in American history.” Clay Mountcastle, author of Punitive War: Confederate Guerrillas and Union Reprisals

‘In Sherman’s Ghosts, journalist Matthew Carr examines Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman’s method of waging war against civilians, particularly during his infamous “March to the Sea.” He first gives a balanced and nuanced account of the strategic justifications for Sherman’s original campaign and then describes its legacy of influence on American military occupations since the Spanish-American War. Carr specifically debunks “postmodern” myths of a “surgical” style of technological warfare that supposedly minimizes civilian casualties, stressing that the true goal of any military conflict is “to produce results by death and slaughter” (280). General Sherman would have approved the unflinching realism of this perspective…Sherman’s Ghosts will disabuse its readers of any notion that war can be humanized.’ – Ciarán Dean-Jones,  Michigan War Studies Review

Blood and Faith: the Purging of Muslim Spain

New Press 2009.     Published in the UK as Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain, 1492-1614 (Hurst 2010)

In this first comprehensive appreciation in many decades of the Muslim expulsion from Spain, Blood and Faith meticulously recaptures the fateful self-mutilation of a society that might have become Europe’s first multicultural nation and offers a grim lesson about religious and racial repression in our contemporary age of contested faiths.’
–David Levering Lewis, author of God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215

‘A splendid work of synthesis.’— The New York Times Book Review

‘Carr deftly narrates the complex events leading up to this little known but horrific episode as a warning against religious intolerance and xenophobia.’— Publishers Weekly

The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism from the Assassination of Alexander II to al-Qaeda

, New Press 2007. Also published in the UK as:The Infernal Machine: An Alternative History of Terrorism Hurst 2010

‘Academic criticism of the quasi-field of ‘terrorism studies’ has been muted. By contrast, journalist Matthew Carr delivers a fierce assault on ‘terrorology’ the exaggeration of the terrorist threat by governments and supposed experts, long predating 9/11. His view of ‘a world tormented by the fantasy of absolute terror and fixated by a futile search for absolute security’ may be a bit one-sided, but it makes a vital point.’ —Times Higher Education

‘Carr’s central point is that [politicians’] responses go beyond all sensible assessment of risk and do half the terrorist’s job for him. … I am with Carr in believing that the chief risk today is not of Muslim terrorists undermining western democracy but of the West doing so itself by absurdly overstating that risk.’ –Simon Jenkins, Sunday Times

‘Carr has a twofold mission. To establish the humanity and sanity of men and women whom governmental and media maledictions have routinely caricatured as evil monsters, and to expose the atrocities and injustices that are perpetrated under the guise of counter-terrorism.’ –Michael Burleigh, Sunday Telegraph

My Father’s House: In Search of a Lost Past

Bill Carr embodied all the idealism and sickness of the colonial mind and his son’s narrative is a monumental exploration of the paradoxes of Empire. It is written as if from the pen of a novelist, superbly plotted with a marvellous sense of the intricacies of character and a panoramic view of British and colonial history. Matthew Carr has made astonishing art of his father’s wreckage.’
David Dabydeen, The Times

‘Matthew Carr embarks, literally, on a journey in search of his father. His book combines the skills of a gifted travel writer, a novelist and a biographer. The result is a high-class creation that unfolds with the excitement of a detective story.’
Richard Gott, The Independent



Penguin/Hamish Hamilton, 1997.   Ebook available here