Customer Reviews

2 Reviews
5 star:
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
Most Helpful First | Newest First

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another Christopher Hill masterpiece..., 29 Oct 2010
Simon Ash (washington, tyne and wear United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Yes I am biased; I have read a lot of history books over the years (I have an MA in it) and his writing is far and away the best of all those I have read - and yes I agree with most of what he says...
Eugene O'Neill wrote that "there is no present or no future, just the past happening again and again - now"; this seems to me to be true we have a class of unrepresented people with no voice and limited chances in life....declared to be outlaw for daring to want such things as the vote or a parliament that was not totally corrupt and at the mercy of landed gentry (or big banks perhaps...)

Not much more to say really - in 2010 it is both sad and depressing that you could transpose a lot of the people described herein into our world easily....ID cards anyone? but there we go; we get what we (don't) vote for I suppose. Chris Hill should be compulsory reading to all Sixth Form students, can't see it though
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Christopher Hill., 29 Aug 2001
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Liberty Against the Law (Paperback)
'Liberty Against the Law' (LAL) recounts the experiences of the poor and oppressed of seventeenth century England as they resist the rich man's laws. In earlier centuries the law was in a sense a means for the poor to defend themselves against the vicissitudes of life, through the exercise of custom-rights and so on. Enclosure of the land for 'improvement' (of the landlord's profits) had cast out many peasant from the land-owning ranks of society and into modern wage-labour. In that sense, and also in terms of slavery, colonialism, impressment, the law was used oppressively to engineer a particular kind of society. LAL celebrates resistance to this oppression as revealed through smuggling, piracy, Gypsies and antinomians, among many other things. The scope of the book is vast and deep.
Just as the theme of 'The World Turned Upside Down' was analogous to the radicalism of the 1960s; as 'The Experience of Defeat' was written against the backdrop of the onslaught of Thatcherism; and as 'The English Bible and the Seventeenth Century Revolution' drew parallels between the radical politics of the seventeenth century and latter day liberation theology, so LAL appears in the context of growing grassroots anti-corporate movements across the world. Like these radicals, Hills subjects rebelled against the legally sanctioned appropriation of their livelihoods and tradtions.
What LAL demonstrates is how this rich, vibrant traditon was reflected and nurutred in poems, ballads, plays and stories. Quite rightly, Hill is keen to emphasise the importance of literature in historical investigation. This book mirrors slightly Eric Hobsbawm's 'Bandits' in that respect.
Hence Hill's book appropriates the controversial interpretation of the 'social bandit', but his points are well-argued. 'Social banditry' refers to crimes committed with a social or political dimension or context. It is used as evidence for a 'moral economy' and oppositional political culture. Pirates, smugglers, highwaymen and Robin Hood clearly point to this end, as does the non-violent direct action of the Diggers (Hill includes another inspirational essay on gerrard Winstanley). But petty theft committed amongst poor communities is not really discussed. When the poor rob the poor, is that a blow of Liberty against the oppressive Law?
It would be wrong to assume from what I've written that this is a history of crime; Hill's canvas is bigger than that. He again covertly philosophises on the themes of counter-hegemony and radical resistance, and the relationship between politics, society and literature in the context of the seventeenth cenutry. Christopher Hill knows that history is as much about the present as it is about the past.
As with all his work, the standard of writing is very high and the breadth of references astonishing. Hill as usual has kept right up-to-date with current scholarly debates. I sensed too much of a reliance on secondary literature, but I had missed the point, which was to show through literature, popular song and drama, the various traditions of rebellion and resistance against the law among subordinated groups in society. One of these groups, alas, is not women, who are not adequately represented here. That said, this is a rich, valuable and thought-provoking book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Liberty Against the Law
Liberty Against the Law by Christopher Hill (Paperback - 31 July 1997)
Used & New from: 3.22
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews