Robert Reid

The Peterloo Massacre
  • The Peterloo Massacre

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    'The universal significance of this historic event becomes ever more relevant in our own turbulent times.' MIKE LEIGH, director of the award-winning film Peterloo
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    The Peterloo Massacre is a revealing and compelling account of one of the darkest days in Britain's social history.

    On 16 August 1819, a strong force of yeomanry and regular cavalry charged into a crowd of more than 100,000 workers who had gathered on St Peter’s Field in Manchester for a meeting about Parliamentary reform.

    Many were killed. This violent, startling event became known as Peterloo, one of the darkest days in Britain’s social history.

    The Peterloo Massacre provides a revealing narrative account of the events leading up to Peterloo, starkly describes the actions of that fateful day, and examines its aftermath. It offers a new perspective on the political and military activities of the time, and shows how the very nature of society was powerfully influenced by irreversible technological change: a pattern that, two-hundred years later, still has relevance in understanding the forces shaping our world today.
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    'One of our nation's defining moments.' STUART MACONIE

    'Vivid and rather brilliant.' THE TIMES

    'an absorbing analysis of one of the blackest days for civil liberties which this country has ever known. It is a story of heroes and villains, of suffering and carnage and of incompetence, betrayal and brutality, told with the skill of a master craftsman who makes history leap from the page fresh as the morning’s newspapers' EVENING CHRONICLE

    'There are many accounts of the Peterloo Massacre but none as thoroughly researched as this one. The characters . . . come alive in his easy to read style . . . there is much to be learned from Robert Reid’s description and analysis of the role and effects of technology, and I hope his book will be widely read. It should be in every school library and discussed by all those involved in the continuing search for civilised solutions to the social and political problems currently facing our people.' CAMDEN JOURNAL

Robert Reid was born in 1933 in Yorkshire. He was awarded a state scholarship to Oxford University, where he read Chemistry. After taking part in post-graduate research in South Africa and Canada, he completed a PhD in Physical Chemistry at Cambridge University, and then joined the science department of BBC Television. He directed The Sky at Night, presented by Patrick Moore and, in the early 1960s, made the documentary The Building of the Bomb in which he interviewed Robert Oppenheimer. From 1967–1970 he was the editor of Horizon, and in 1970 was made Head of Science and Features at BBC Television. During this time he was responsible for the 13-part series The Ascent of Man presented by Jacob Bronowski. He later wrote the script for another memorable programme, The Voyage of Charles Darwin. After leaving the BBC, Reid joined Sir Antony Jay, John Cleese and Michael Peacock at Video Arts, a production company specialising in training films for business and industry, where he was responsible for the science output of the company. Robert Reid was the author of several books on science-related subjects, including Tongues of Conscience: War and the Scientist’s Dilemma, written in 1969. His biography of Marie Curie, published in 1974, was adapted for television and has been translated into many languages. The Peterloo Massacre, originally published in 1989 to mark the 170th anniversary of Peterloo, was his last book. He died in 1990.


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