Riot! : Civil Insurrection From Peterloo to the Present Day

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'A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.' Martin Luther King

Riot! covers, with a reporter's eye, almost 200 years of civil disturbance on mainland Britain, and gives a voice to some of the remarkable men and women involved. Ian Hernon shows that resistance played a part, not always beneficially, in the creation of proper parliamentary democracy, the welfare state, the trade union movement, the rights of immigrants and civil liberties. All of these, it can be argued, are under renewed attack today.

Hernon tells the story of a largely unacknowledged tradition of violent protest in Britain, from the martyrs of Peterloo to the drug-fuelled street violence of today. Riot! charts how the struggles of individual groups of workers turned into a broader campaign for electoral reform and justice; how excessive use of state force failed to extinguish the fires; how the trade unions pressed for wider social justice; how Thatcherism reversed decades of gradual reform and sparked social turmoil; and how a "good" riot played a part in her downfall. Finishing with an account of the anti-globalisation movement and G8 protests, this lively book shows how the ugly roar of a mob has perhaps done more to change society than measured parliamentary debate.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 150 x 230 x 26.16mm | 675.85g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Annotated
  • 7 line drawings, 3 photos
  • 0745325386
  • 9780745325385
  • 1,487,981

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Table of contents

Foreword by Paul Routledge



1. Luddites and Blanketeers

2. The Road to Peterloo

3. The Massacre

4. The Reckoning

5. Captain Swing and the Rural War

6. The Reform Riots and the Battle of Bristol

7. The Merthyr Rising

8. The Chartists and the Newport Insurrection

9. The Chartists and the Plug Plot Riots

10. Cunninghame Graham and Bloody Sunday

11. The Featherstone Riot

12. The Suffragettes and Black Friday

13. Churchill and the Troops

14. The Police Strike

15. Mosley and the Battle of Cable Street

16. The Notting Hill Riots

17. From Student Protest to Blair Peach

18. Brixton, Toxteth and Broadwater Farm

19. The Battle of Orgreave

20. The Poll Tax Riot

21. The Return of Race Riots

22. Stop the War and G8



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Review quote

'A useful primer on the civil insurrections which helped Britain lumber towards equitable political representations. He has picked out key and often overlooked episodes in working class history' -- Tribune 'A timely reminder that there is nothing new in rioting as a catalyst for political and social change. Here are the great battles which, for better or worse, helped to create our form of Parliamentary democracy and which changed the face of Britain' -- Gallery News, House of Commons 'A well-written, thought provoking and sometimes moving account of rioting and social disturbance' -- Alex Louton, Morning Star Online 'This fascinating history of riots includes the reform riots of 1831, the violence of the Chartists and the Suffragettes, the lawlessness that occurred during the bizarre police strike of 1919. It ends with the Stop the War march in London in February 2003, Britain's biggest ever demonstration and, in Hernon's view, one of the most futile protests of modern times' -- Ian Pindar, The Guardian 'His account of the build up to Peterloo and the aftermath is stirring stuff ... written with the pace and detail you would expect from an experienced journalist.' -- Sarah Williams, BBC History 'A beautifully written and graphic account of civil insurrection in this country from Peterloo to the present day - a very fine read' -- The House Magazine 'The latest outstanding oeuvre from the prolific pen of Liverpool Echo political correspondent Ian Hernon' -- The Guardian
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About Ian Hernon

Ian Hernon is a journalist and Westminster lobby correspondent. He is the author of Assassin!: 200 Years of British Political Murder (Pluto, 2007) and Riot!: Civil Insurrection From Peterloo to the Present Day (Pluto, 2006). He reports for the Sunday Times and Daily Express, Glasgow Evening Times, and many other newspapers. Ian's previous books on 19th Century British history include Britain's Forgotten Wars (Sutton, 2003).
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Rating details

5 ratings
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3 20% (1)
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