Staying Power

A History of Black People in Britain

By Peter Fryer
Staying Power: A History of Black People in Britain
This classic text is the most comprehensive and extensively researched history of black people in Britain. The sections on the black radicals of the 18th and 19th century are a must as is Fryer's demolition of British establishment attempts to rewrite themselves as the moral and legal vanguard in the abolition of slavery. Fryer's social history not only enlightens us about individual black political figures in this process but also covers such disparate groups as boxers, musicians and soldiers […]

King Leopold’s Ghost

A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa

By Adam Hochschild
King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa
This bestseller (selling over 400,000 copies worldwide) almost never came to print as numerous publishers rejected it on the grounds that people weren't interested in the history of Africa! King Leopold refers to the Belgian monarch of the late 19th century who worried about his nation falling behind in the 'scramble for Africa' cunningly organised the invasion of the Congo. Using fake philanthropic organisations (the International African Association) and armed 'scientific expeditions' (e.g. […]

The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the 18th Century

By Edward Thompson
Available as a PDF file here. This paper is famous, so I thought I better read it and I was not disappointed. Thompson is at his cheeky best, starting the article by taking the piss out of anthropologists and their complex analyses of 'exotic' cultures whilst the English working class is reduced to disorganised, amoral, sub-humans by historians. Thompson analyses the corn and bread 'riots' of the 18th century and not only shows their popular character but also the organised and often successful […]

Time, Work Discipline and Industrial Capitalism

By Edward Thompson
Available as a PDF file here. Another famous, readable and ground-breaking paper by Thompson, this time looking at the imposition of work discipline in the transition to industrial capitalism. He charts the change from the task orientated work of the craftsman/labourer to the division of labour in the '(manu)factory' and the consequent resistance. The use of supervision, fines, wage incentive, preaching, schooling, the suppression of fairs and sports and of course, bells and clocks to form and […]

The Many Headed Hydra

Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic

By Marcus Rediker and Peter Linebaugh
The Many Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic
Brilliant work charting the misunderstood and misrepresented history of the Atlantic proletariat during the rise of mercantile capitalism. Breaks out of the limits of the nation state set by previous social history and examines the struggles of slaves, sailors and commoners across the Atlantic from the old world to the new. (BRHG)

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750

By Marcus Rediker
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea : Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750
Rediker redefines the sailor as a worker afloat and shows how these working men resisted authority and work discipline, created their own maritime culture, language and religion and often turned to mutiny and piracy in a bid for freedom. (BRHG)

Villains of All Nations

Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age

By Marcus Rediker
Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age
Villains of All Nations explores the "Golden Age" of Atlantic piracy and the infamous generation whose images underlie our modern, romanticized view of pirates. Rediker focuses on the high seas drama of the years 1716-1726, which featured the dreaded black flag, the Jolly Roger; swashbuckling figures such as Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard; and the unnamed pegleg who was likely Robert Louis Stevenson's model for Long John Silver in Treasure Island. This novel interpretation shows how […]

Albion’s Fatal Tree

Crime and Society in 18th Century England

By Hay, Linebaugh, Rule, Thompson, Winslow
Albion's Fatal Tree : Crime and Society in 18th Century England
Classic set of essays shattering the illusion of a tranquil 18th Century full of happy peasants and deferential workers promoted by establishment historians. From poaching wars to smugglers, wreckers and rioters these essays provide the hard evidence for the raging class war of the period. E.P.Thompson's study on the 'incendiary letter' is absolute quality and will still send shivers up the spine of the wealthy…(BRHG)

Liberty Against the Law

Some 17th Century Controversies

By Christopher Hill
Liberty Against the Law : Some 17th Century Controversies
Christopher Hill was getting on a bit when he wrote this but he clearly still had lots of stuff to get out there. What a source book he has produced. Hill shows that barely a fifth of the population were content with a legal system which was enclosing the commons, crushing customary rights and creating a class of landless labourers. Highwaymen, pirates, gypsies, vagabonds, levellers and religious radicals (amongst others) fight these changes creating their own culture of resistance in the […]

The Black Jacobins

Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution

By C.L.R. James
The Black Jacobins : Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution
The history of the successful slave revolt on Haiti at the end of the 18th century. Find out how the rebellious slaves won their revolution against the French and then fought off the Spanish and the British who tried to grab the island. Brilliant section on the real reasons the British decided to abolish slavery. (BRHG)

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