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Gerrard Winstanley: The Digger's Life and Legacy (Revolutionary Lives) by [Gurney, John]
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Gerrard Winstanley: The Digger's Life and Legacy (Revolutionary Lives) Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Outstanding. An exciting and extremely well-written account of Winstanley’s development as thinker and experimental communist, with a clear demonstration of his continuing relevance and his overlooked influence on modern social thought and art. No one knows the evidence better than Gurney and in this study he distils complex issues into a revealing and enjoyable narrative. It is a continuing reminder of why in our world the experiences of the seventeenth century still matter. (Nigel Smith, William and Annie S. Paton Foundation Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature, Princeton University)

This is a clear-eyed yet sympathetic account of one of the most baffling figures of the English Revolution. Gurney's painstaking research provides a wealth of new information that is assembled into a highly readable narrative. An informative and thought-provoking book. (Mark Kishlansky, Frank Baird Jr. Professor of History at Harvard University)

This admirably succinct and clear guide to the complex career and thought of Gerrard Winstanley pays full attention to the ambiguities of the evidence and range of interpretation his writings have supported. By doing so, it offers a fascinating commentary on the complex and shifting world of radical thought during the revolutionary decades as a whole and a stimulating introduction to a number of wider, historiographical debates. (Mike Braddick, Professor of History at the University of Sheffield)

About the Author

John Gurney is a Visiting Fellow in the School of Historical Studies, Newcastle University and is author of Brave Community: The Digger Movement in the English Revolution (2007).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1023 KB
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (20 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AFCYC02
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #147,198 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
The other review here gives such a humungously in-depth review of this book I don't need to say more than I really enjoyed it and if you are all interested in Winstanley, the Diggers and early anarchism/communism you will too. Needless to say I got my copy direct from the publisher Pluto Books, not tax-dodgers Amazon. Winstanley: the vision still lingers on.
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Format: Paperback

`Action is the life of all and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing`- Gerrard Winstanley

Dr John Gurney is fast becoming a leading authority on the Diggers and their de facto leader Gerrard Winstanley. He is the author of a previous book on the Diggers called Brave Community: the Digger Movement in the English Revolution and also author of a number of papers. Gurney's latest book is a development of a paper published from 1994 (Gurney 1994). He lectures regularly on Winstanley.

The book is a meticulously researched, scholarly and well-presented. Gurney provides us with a good understanding of the origins of the Digger movement. It has been praised for setting an "extremely high standard for local histories of this sort and must rank alongside similar studies such as Eamon Duffy's acclaimed The Voices of Morebath".

Gurney's biography runs to just over 162 pages. It would be a mistake however to believe that the book is academically or intellectually `light`. It is nothing of the sort. Nor should it be treated as an introductory to Winstanley, the reader in order to get the best out of this book should at least have a rudimentary knowledge of the Digger leader and the Diggers struggle.

Gurney's introduction sets the tone for the rest of the book in the respect that it attempts to place his work in the context of previous `left wing' or `Marxist' historiography.

The sign of a good book is always that (despite an increasingly crowded Winstanley book market) it tells us something new. Gurney's work can be seen as development on from the work of Christopher Hill and others.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
John Gurney has recently written two excellent books on Winstanley and the Diggers: Brave Community: The Digger Movement in the English Revolution and Gerrard Winstanley, The Digger’s Life and Legacy. In the end, these continue to endow the central character with too much wisdom, consistency, goodness and modernity: but they have thrown new light on Winstanley’s life.

It has long been known that Winstanley’s Digger tracts were all written between 1648 and 1652: there is nothing from the 1640s when he was a rather unsuccessful cloth merchant or from the 1660s when he had once again become ‘respectable’. However, Gurney tells us that in August 1650, after the failure of the second commune at Little Heath, Winstanley and a number of Diggers went to stay at Pirton in Hertfordshire, with the eccentric widow Lady Eleanor Douglas or Davies (née Touchet, 1590-1652), who owned a manor there. Quite how this came about is unknown, but it is surely significant that Lady Eleanor was a prophetess, who had accurately predicted the deaths of one of her husbands and of the Duke of Buckingham, and announced that 1650 was to be a year of ‘jubilee and restoration’. The fact that the Diggers went to work for her at all is surely an indication that, even during his most political period, Winstanley still retained a messianic belief that the end of the word might be nigh.

The Diggers stayed in Pirton until December 1650, helping to gather in the crops and save Lady Eleanor’s estate from financial ruin. Even at the time, this gave rise to accusations that they had ‘sold out’ because the Lady owned tithes, and the Diggers had therefore become ‘tithe-gatherers’. In any event there was a quarrel and Winstanley accused his hostess of exploitation.
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