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 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)

The Life & Family of William Penn

260 Years of Bloody Colonial History

William Penn Front Cover
This booklet is a short analysis of the role of the Penn family and other early Quakers in the Transatlantic Slave Trade and European expansionism in the North Americas. As far as I am aware this story, the links between the different generations of the Penn family, has never before been told. It is pertinent to ask, “Why is this so?” The Penn family was at the heart of the English Revolution in the 17th Century and of every important event of British colonial expansionism from the colonisation […]

The Peculiar History Of The Sect Known As The Quakers

The Quakers Front Cover
Who were the Quakers? Why were they persecuted? Why did they stop being radical? How did some of Bristol’s Quakers become so rich? From James Naylor’s blasphemous ride down Corn Street to William Penn being given Pennsylvania and Abraham Darby laying the foundations of the Industrial Revolution. This is the first of two pamphlets by Jim McNeill exploring the history of the Quakers in Bristol.

Nicotiana Brittanica

The Cotswolds’ Illicit Tobacco Cultivation In The 17th Century

Nicotiana Brittanica Front Cover
Four centuries ago a group of farmers from the West of England decided to see if they could make a living for themselves by growing tobacco. This put them at odds with the English state and its imperial ambition to build a mercantile economy driven by indentured and slave labour. This is their story of resistance. Fair-trade home-grown tobacco? Put that in yer pipe and smoke it

John Locke

The Philosopher of Primitive Accumulation

John Locke Front Cover
John Locke is the most famous philosopher born and raised in the vicinity of Bristol. He born in Wrington, Somerset about 12 miles from Bristol on August 29, 1632 and he was brought up in the market town of Pensford, about seven miles south of Bristol. Locke is also not only the main intellectual founder of liberalism, but also of neoliberalism, the “ruling idea” of the ruling class of today. George Caffentzis is associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Southern Maine, […]

The Bristol Manifesto

The 2008 G8 In Hokkaido: Strategic Assessment

The Bristol Manifesto Front Cover
When Bristol Radical History Group staged a series of events called Down With The Fences! The Struggle For The Global Commons in May 2008, a group of leading academics found themselves together in an Eastville living room. They talked about what they would like to say to the leaders of the G8 countries who were soon to meet in Hokkaido, Japan. The result of their discussions, published under the name of the ‘Emergency Exit Collective’, is The Bristol Manifesto.

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