Friday, 23 October 2009
A Radical History of Britain
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Edward Vallance's "A Radical History of Britain". Westminster - as I noted yesterday - is decorated according to historical preferences of those in the 19th Century. Some radicals are recognised, others have less prominence. For example there is no statue of John Wilkes - but there is a fine painting (with an excellent description of him as a campaigner for press freedom and parliamentary reform) just inside the Members Dining Room.
The "history" portrayed at Westminster is a little one sided - monarchy is generally good; the French are definitely bad....
Vallance's book is a refreshing contrast to the history of Kings and conformists. He sets out the tradition of radical thought and action in Britain - which is often overlooked. There are individuals described who came from Britain - but influenced events around the world - like Thomas Paine! The Peasants Revolt; Cade's Rebellion; the events surrounding the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution; the struggle for extension of the suffrage; and the Suffragettes are all described.
All Brits should read this book - Americans can read of our shared tradition - and any citizen of the world can find this an interesting read.
The Facebook site for the book can be accessed from here.
A Guardian Review can be accessed here.