Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Violent London

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 1st January, 2011

Readers of the Daily Telegraph, muttering into their breakfast newspapers about the revolting state of today’s students, could usefully be reminded that violent protest has been an integral part of London’s life for much of the city’s history. The publication of a new edition of Clive Bloom’s Violent London (Palgrave Macmillan) provides a dramatic sweep through 2,000 years of riotous assembly and its often brutal suppression by the police and other authorities. Inevitably there is a certain unevenness in Professor Bloom’s narrative. He starts off a little sketchily and shakily with the Romans, but picks up briskly with the Tudors (thanks partly to judicious use of Antonia Fraser) and really comes into his own from the Levellers onwards. He is particularly good on the suffragettes, the far right and anti-semitism, the poll tax riots and eco-warriors, but less authoritative about Islamic protest (which he describes, rather than analyses), but overall the book keeps the reader gripped through its 500-odd pages. Although the author is an academic, he has an accessible, at times even cheeky, style. It is a pity, however, that the text is littered with typos and a rather dismaying number of simple errors (for example: Israel’s Operation Cast Lead targetted Hamas, not Hizbollah; the British Home Secretary in 2009 was Jaqui (not ‘Jackie’) Smith; Glenda Jackson’s constituency is Hampstead and Kilburn, not the other way round). A bit of good copy-editing would do the trick for the next edition of this very worthwhile and thought-provoking tome.

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One Response to “Violent London”

  1. This sounds as if it is an essential read, thank you….

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