Book Reviews

Here you will find our book reviews. To filter the books by ‘type’ use the menu below. Books, as well as most of the content on this site, are also grouped by Subjects, Tags (keywords) and Projects.

The London Hanged

Crime and Civil Society in the 18th Century

By Peter Linebaugh
This book takes you right into the everyday life of the 18th century British working class and how their existing customary rights came directly into conflict with the new needs of emerging capitalism. Sounds boring, but Linebaugh is excellent at blending both the experiences of the individual labourer with the overall thrust of the history. This book is extremely important if you want to understand the transition from feudal to capitalist work relations. Also excellent chapters on public […]

The Making of the English Working Class

By E.P.Thompson
Classic work charting the formation of the English working class in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Thompson not only does the business in terms of the economic history but also famously charts the lives, politics and actions of the class itself in resisting the attempts to mould them into a passive, subservient and impoverished work force. (BRHG)

Gone to Croatan

The Origins of North American Dropout Culture

By Ron Sakolsky & James Koehnline
Lost history viewed through cracks in the cartographies of control, including "tri-racial isolate" communities, buccaneers, "white Indians", black Islamic movements, the Maroons of the Great Dismal Swamp, the M├ętis nation, scandalous eugenics theories, rural "hippie" communes, and many other aspects of North American autonomous cultures. (Autonomedia)

The Devils Anarchy

The Other Loose Roving Way of Life & Very Remarkable Travels of Jan Erasmus Reyning, Buccaneer

By Stephen Snelders
By rebelling against hierarchical society and living under the Jolly Roger, pirates created an upside-down world of anarchist organisation and festival, with violence and death ever-present. This creation was not a purely whimsical process. In The Devil's Anarchy, Stephen Snelders examines rare 17th-century Dutch pirate histories to show the continuity of a shared pirate culture, embodied in its modes of organisation, methods of distributing booty and resolving disputes, and tendencies for high […]

Pirate Utopias

Moorish Corsairs and European Renegadoes

By Peter L Wilson
Pirate Utopias : Moorish Corsairs and European Renegadoes
From the 16th to the 19th centuries, Moslem corsairs from the Barbary Coast ravaged European shipping and enslaved thousands of unlucky captives. During this same period, thousands more Europeans converted to Islam and joined the pirate holy war. Were these men (and women) the scum of the seas, apostates, traitors - "Renegadoes"? Or did they abandon and betray Christendom as a praxis of social resistance? (Autonomedia)

John the Painter

The First Modern Terrorist

By Jessica Warner
transparent fiddle John the Painter
During the early days of the American Revolution, James Aitken, alias John the Painter, set fire to the Royal Navy dockyards of Portsmouth and Bristol, briefly striking terror into the hearts of the English. Completely forgotten today, Aitken strove to gain notoriety through various criminal acts, culminating in the arson he committed in support of the American rebels. Warner traces Aitken's life from his restless childhood in the poverty and grime of Old Town, Edinburgh, to his exploits as an […]

Moby Dick

By Herman Melville
transparent fiddle Moby Dick
Classic novel of the search for vengeance by the maimed captain of a whaling vessel sailing from Nantucket on the east coast of the USA in the 1840's. It interest for us is the view that Melville gives us below decks amongst the harpooners and sailors. This 'motley crew' consists of native Americans, Polynesians and West Africans, amongst others, all jammed together in the whaling ship 'Pequod' for a dangerous three year (!) voyage. Melville who worked on similar ships has an empathy with these […]

Bury the Chains

The British struggle to Abolish Slavery

By Adam Hochschild
Bury the Chains : The British struggle to Abolish Slavery
Thrilling account of the first grass-roots human rights campaign, which freed hundreds of thousands of slaves around the world. In 1787, twelve men gathered in a London printing shop to pursue a seemingly impossible goal: ending slavery in the largest empire on earth. Along the way, they would pioneer most of the tools citizen activists still rely on today, from wall posters and mass mailings to boycotts and lapel pins. This talented group combined a hatred of injustice with uncanny skill in […]

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