I'm not sure quite how I missed the existence of this one, but it was only when ambling around the LRB Bookshop t'other week that I came across Peter Linebaugh's The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All. Linebaugh, as I've doubtles said before, is the writer of one of my all time favourite history books, The London Hanged, as well as a fascinating history of piracy (The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, with RSB interviewee Marcus Rediker).

The publisher blurbs The Magna Carta Manifesto thusly:

This remarkable book shines a fierce light on the current state of liberty and shows how longstanding restraints against tyranny - and the rights of habeas corpus, trial by jury, and due process of law, and the prohibition of torture - are being abridged. In providing a sweeping history of Magna Carta, the source of these protections since 1215, this powerful book demonstrates how these ancient rights are repeatedly laid aside when the greed of privatization, the lust for power, and the ambition of empire seize a state. Peter Linebaugh draws on primary sources to construct a wholly original history of the Great Charter and its scarcely-known companion, the Charter of the Forest, which was created at the same time to protect the subsistence rights of the poor.

Readers Comments

  1. It's a good book - not anywhere near as good as Hydra or London Hanged, but excellent nonetheless. My own review is here

    If you like Linebaugh, can I recommend Marcus Rediker. His book on the history of Piracy is very impressive - "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea".

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