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Peterloo: The Massacre and Its Background

By Donald Read

When government-backed cavalry brutally charged into a crowd of 60,000 – 80,000 unarmed civilians who were demanding parliamentary reform, the Peterloo Massacre became one of the most famous events of the 19th century.

Protesting against the famine and chronic unemployment that had been rife in Northern England since the Napoleonic War, why the crowd was there is fundamentally economic. How they came to be there is a question of politics.

Donald Read delves into the socioeconomic background of Peterloo, examining the causes of the unrest and the working-class Radical Reformers at the heart of it. The events leading up to the massacre, as well as the aftermath and the lasting impact, are investigated in vivid detail.

Donald Read (1930 – 1 October 2018) was a British historian and emeritus Professor of Modern History at the University of Kent, who was appointed to write the authorised history of Reuters. Read died in 2018, aged 88.

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