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History from below: A Verso Reading List

Rebels, pirates, and fearless revolutionaries!

Verso Books25 May 2023

History from below: A Verso Reading List

The works of Marcus Rediker highlight the lesser known and most radical figures in history. From the African rebels who risked death for freedom on La Amistad, to the pirates that built dissident communities at sea, to the Quaker dwarf who created a revolutionary way of life! Rediker focuses on history from below, the reclamation of rebellion for its instigators, and always, always, solidarity!

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A history from below, or a people’s history, eschews the standard narrative of ‘Great Men’, of dates and kings, instead highlighting how ordinary people were at the core of creating and changing society. It becomes apparent that throughout history we have been fighting for a better world!

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How do we interact with the past in our daily lives? From monuments and museums to period dramas and reenactment societies, history is a living practice, something constantly being reassessed in the world around us.

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From the Jim Crow South to Italy’s ‘Hot Autumn’ to anti-colonial campaigners, these books highlight collective struggle across all areas of life!

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The Fearless Benjamin Lay
The Fearless Benjamin Lay chronicles the transatlantic life and times of a singular and astonishing man-a Quaker dwarf who became one of the first ever to demand the total, unconditional emancipati...
Paperback
Prophet against Slavery
Prophet against Slavery is an action-packed chronicle of a remarkable and radical individual. It is based on the award-winning biography by Marcus Rediker, which prompted the Quaker community that ...
Paperback
The Amistad Rebellion
On 28 June 1839, the Spanish slave schooner La Amistad set sail from Havana to make a routine delivery of human cargo. After four days at sea, on a moonless night, the captive Africans that compr...
Hardback
Outlaws of the Atlantic
Outlaws of the Atlantic turns maritime history upside down, exploring the dramatic world of seafaring adventure, not from the perspective of admirals, merchants and other builders of empire, but ra...
Hardback
The Many-Headed Hydra
Long before the American Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, a motely crew of sailors, slaves, pirates, labourers, market women, and indentured servants had ideas about freedom and...
Paperback
Villains of All Nations
Pirates have long been stock figures in popular culture, from Treasure Island to the more recent antics of Jack Sparrow. Villains of all Nations unearths the thrilling historical truth behind such ...
Paperback
A People's History of the World
In this monumental book, Chris Harman achieves the impossible—a gripping history of the planet from the perspective of the struggling people throughout the ages.From earliest human society to the H...
A People's History of London
In the eyes of Britain’s heritage industry, London is the traditional home of empire, monarchy and power, an urban wonderland for the privileged, where the vast majority of Londoners feature only t...
Paperback
A People's History of the French Revolution
The assault on the Bastille, the Reign of Terror, Danton mocking his executioner, Robespierre dispensing a fearful justice, and the archetypal gadfly Marat – the events and figures of the French Re...
A People's History of Scotland
A People's History of Scotland looks beyond the kings and queens, the battles and bloody defeats of the past. It captures the history that matters today, stories of freedom fighters, suffragettes,...
Potential History
In this theoretical tour-de-force, renowned scholar Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences.Azoulay ...
Monumental Lies
The past is weaponised in culture wars and cynically edited by those who wish to impose their ideology upon the physical spaces around us. Holocaust deniers use details of the ruins of the gas cha...
The Parthenon Marbles

The Parthenon Marbles

The Parthenon Marbles (formerly known as the Elgin Marbles), designed and executed by Pheidias to adorn the Parthenon, are perhaps the greatest of all classical sculptures. In 1801, Lord Elgin, the...
Theatres of Memory
When Theatres of Memory was first published in 1994, it transformed the debate about what is to be considered history and questioned the role of “heritage” that lies at the heart of every Western n...
Paperback
Winston Churchill
The subject of numerous biographies and history books, Winston Churchill has been repeatedly voted as one of the greatest of Englishmen. Even today, Boris Johnson in his failing attempts to be magi...
Culture Strike
In an age of protest, culture and museums have come under fire. Protests of museum funding (for example, the Metropolitan Museum accepting Sackler family money) and boards (for example, the Whitney...
The South
The last generation of Americans with a living memory of Jim Crow will soon disappear. They leave behind a collective memory of segregation shaped increasingly by its horrors and heroic defeat but ...
Daring to Hope
In this powerful memoir Sheila Rowbotham looks back at her life as a participant in the women’s liberation movement, left politics and the creative radical culture of a decade in which freedom and ...
Insurgent Empire
Much has been written on the how colonial subjects took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. The possibility of reverse...
The Common Wind
The Common Wind is a gripping and colorful account of the intercontinental networks that tied together the free and enslaved masses of the New World. Having delved deep into the gray obscurity of o...
Imperial Intimacies
‘Where are you from?’ was the question hounding Hazel Carby as a girl in post–World War II London. One of the so-called brown babies of the Windrush generation, born to a Jamaican father and Welsh ...
We Want Everything

We Want Everything

It was the Autumn of 1969, and Italy exploded. Across the north of the country, factory workers stormed out on strike, demanding better pay and working conditions. The slogan “We Want Everything” r...