The London Hanged / Edition 2

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Peter Linebaugh’s groundbreaking history has become an inescapable part of any understanding of the rise of capitalism. In eighteenth-century London the spectacle of a hanging was not simply a form of punishing transgressors.

Rather it evidently served the most sinister purpose—for a prvileged ruling class—of forcing the poor population of London to accept the criminalization of customary rights and the new forms of private property. Necessity drove the city’s poor into inevitable conflict with the changing property laws, such that all the working-class men and women of London had good reason to fear the example of Tyburn’s Triple Tree.

In this new edition Peter Linebaugh reinforces his original arguments with responses to his critics based on an impressive array of historical sources. As the trend of capital punishment intensifies with the spread of global capitalism, The London Hanged also gains in contemporary relevance.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Higher Educational Supplement
“A bold, sweeping and provocative book ... it offers the most engrossing and stirring slice of London's history to have appeared in a long time.”
Alec Campbell - Daily Mail
“A remarkable book...this is history as it should be written.”
From the Publisher
“A bold, sweeping and provocative book ... it offers the most engrossing and stirring slice of London’s history to have appeared in a long time.”—Times Higher Educational Supplement

“A remarkable book ... this is history as it should be written.”—Alec Campbell, Daily Mail

Publishers Weekly
In 18th-century Britain, most victims of capital punishment were hanged for property crimes-some as petty as the pilfering of spoons. A brutal and benighted age, we like to think, but to the author of this epic social history (originally published in 1991, it's now in its second edition), the gallows were an indispensable tool in inculcating the primary lesson-"Respect Private Property"-of a modern capitalist economy. Historian Linebaugh, co-author of The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, explores how the disruption of a traditional economy of regulated guilds and agricultural commons by a capitalism built on cash wages and competitive markets worked itself out as crime and punishment. Customary forms of payment-in-kind, in which workers took part of the wood they sawed, the silk they wove, or the cargo their ship ferried as wages, were criminalized as theft of the owner's property; capitalists developed new methods of workplace control to circumvent workers' attempts to appropriate the fruits of their labor; and romantic criminal figures like the highwayman expressed working-class resentment at the economic transformations that forced them to steal to live. Linebaugh draws on diverse sources, including judicial archives, family budgets, dietary customs and the writings of Locke and Milton to paint both micro-historical character studies of condemned souls and a panorama of class struggle in proto-industrial Britain. The results are as teeming-and sometimes as confusing-as the London street itself, and the broad Marxian abstractions Linebaugh invokes do not always clarify things. Still, this is a rich and thought-provoking portrait of a time when "class warfare" was an all-too-violent reality. Illustrations. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859845769
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 4/15/2003
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 524
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 7.82 (h) x 1.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Linebaugh is Professor of History at the University of Toledo. He writes extensively on British history, Irish history, labor history and the history of the colonial Atlantic. His books include The Magna Carta Manifesto, The Many-Headed Hydra and The London Hanged, and he contributes frequently to CounterPunch.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables, Figures and Maps
Preface to the Second Edition
Pt. 1 Pandemonium and Finance Capitalism, 1690-1720
Ch. 1 'The Common Discourse of the Whole Nation': Jack Sheppard and the Art of Escape 7
Ch. 2 'Old Mr. Gory' and the Thanatocracy 42
Ch. 3 Tyburnography: The Sociology of the Condemned 74
Pt. 2 The Pedagogy of the Gallows under Mercantilism, 1720-50
Ch. 4 The Picaresque Proletariat During the Robinocracy 119
Ch. 5 Socking, the Hogshead and Excise 153
Ch. 6 'Going Upon the Accompt': Highway Robbery under the Reigns of the Georges 184
Pt. 3 Industry and Idleness in the Period of Manufacture, 1750-76
Ch. 7 The Cat Likes Cream: The Waging Hand in Five Trades 225
Ch. 8 Silk Makes the Difference 256
Ch. 9 If You Plead for Your Life, Plead in Irish 288
Pt. 4 The Crisis of Thanatocracy in the Era of Revolution, 1776-1800
Ch. 10 The Delivery of Newgate, 6 June 1780 333
Ch. 11 Ships and Chips: Technological Repression and the Origin of the Wage 371
Ch. 12 Sugar and Police: The London Working Class in the 1790s 402
Afterword to the Second Edition 443
Bibliography 451
Index 483
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