The story of the Peterloo massacre, a defining moment in the history of British democracy, told with passion and authority. ‘A superb account of one of the defining moments in modern British history’ Tristram Hunt.
‘Peterloo is one of the greatest scandals of British political history … Jacqueline Riding tells this tragic story with mesmerising skill’ John Bew.
‘Fast-paced and full of fascinating detail’ Tim Clayton.
On a hot late summer’s day, a crowd of 60,000 gathered in St Peter’s Field. They came from all over Lancashire – ordinary working-class men, women and children – walking to the sound of hymns and folk songs, wearing their best clothes and holding silk banners aloft. Their mood was happy, their purpose wholly serious: to demand fundamental reform of a corrupt electoral system.
By the end of the day fifteen people, including two women and a child, were dead or dying and 650 injured, hacked down by drunken yeomanry after local magistrates panicked at the size of the crowd. Four years after defeating the ‘tyrant’ Bonaparte at Waterloo, the British state had turned its forces against its own people as they peaceably exercised their time-honoured liberties. As well as describing the events of 16 August in shattering detail, Jacqueline Riding evokes the febrile state of England in the late 1810s, paints a memorable portrait of the reform movement and its charismatic leaders, and assesses the political legacy of the massacre to the present day.
As fast-paced and powerful as it is rigorously researched, Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre adds significantly to our understanding of a tragic staging-post on Britain’s journey to full democracy.
'It's a key moment in British political history, and this book, accompanying a new film from Mike Leigh, explores the causes and consequences' History Revealed. 'Sheds light on what really happened at the Peterloo Massacre on that fateful day in 2819 ... This new book offers a comprehensive and accurate history of one of the great outrages of the 19th Century and will answer many questions raised by the new feature film, directed by Mike Leigh' This is England. 'Riding's academic but highly readable account of the event, the lead up to and the aftermath of the massacre, is a richly detailed and comprehensive account. Both energetic and totally engaging, Peterloo is also insightful ... Riding has a knack for finding the little telling details that make this story very human' Nudge Book. 'Clear-minded and readable ... Riding reprints contemporary satirical cartoons between her chapters which remind us of the rich radical visual culture of this period and its importance to the growth of democratic thinking' Times Literary Supplement. 'A comprehensive history ... Manages to be both academic and entertaining' Liberal Democrat Voice. 'Accessible to a wide readership ... [Riding's] thoroughness highlights some aspects of the events leading up to Peterloo, which could easily remain hidden' Methodist Recorder. 'Careful, closely researched ... Riding does a fine job of putting the event into context' Sunday Times. 'Fast-paced and full of fascinating detail' Tim Clayton, author of Waterloo. 'Peterloo is one of the greatest scandals of British political history ... Jacqueline Riding tells this tragic story with mesmerising skill' John Bew, author of Citizen Clem. 'A superb account of one of the defining moments in modern British history' Tristram Hunt.
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?