17 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Worth Fighting For,
This review is from: A Radical History of Britain: Visionaries, Rebels and Revolutionaries - The Men and Women Who Fought for Our Freedoms (Hardcover)
This magnificent work is an astonishingly wide-ranging and erudite history of British Radicalism, covering historical episodes as diverse as Magna Carta, the Levellers, Tom Paine, Luddism and the fight for women's suffrage within its monumental scope. Indeed, the real revelation of this book is that Vallance's sophisticated treatment of these topics, particularly virtuoso when dealing with how subsequent ages understood an episode, actually shows that the connections between them are much more complex than one believed when one picked it up. This does make the book a harder intellectual work-out than it might have been in the hands of a weaker historian, for there is relatively little common structure or simple narrative to link the sections, although there are amusing, surprising, obscene or insightful revelations frequently enough that working through it is never a chore. Moreover, coming to a full understanding that the British radical tradition is not so much a single golden thread as a complex multicoloured tapestry repays the effort that this book demands and deserves, and is a lesson I wholeheartedly recommend to both contemporary radicals and their conservative opponents.