Best Selling Books by EP Thompson

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The Making of the English Working Class
A seminal text on the history of the working class by one of the most important intellectuals of the twentieth century. 

During the formative years of the Industrial Revolution, English workers and artisans claimed a place in society that would shape the following centuries. But the capitalist elite did not form the working class—the workers shaped their own creations, developing a shared identity in the process. Despite their lack of power and the indignity forced upon them by the upper classes, the working class emerged as England’s greatest cultural and political force. Crucial to contemporary trends in all aspects of society, at the turn of the nineteenth century, these workers united into the class that we recognize all across the Western world today. E.P. Thompson’s magnum opus, The Making of the English Working Class defined early twentieth-century English social and economic history, leading many to consider him Britain’s greatest postwar historian. Its publication in 1963 was highly controversial in academia, but the work has become one of the most influential social commentaries every written.
release date: Aug 01, 1993
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Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture
Customs in Common is the remarkable sequel to E.P. Thompson’s influential, landmark volume of social history, The Making of the English Working Class. The product of years of research and debate, Customs in Common describes the complex culture from which working class institutions emerged in England—a panoply of traditions and customs that the new working class fought to preserve well into Victorian times.

In a text marked by both empathy and erudition, Thompson investigates the gradual disappearance of a range of cultural customs against the backdrop of the great upheavals of the eighteenth century. As villagers were subjected to a legal system increasingly hostile to custom, they tried both to resist and to preserve tradition, becoming, as Thompson explains, “rebellious, but rebellious in defence of custom.” Although some historians have written of riotous peasants of England and Wales as if they were mainly a problem for magistrates and governments, for Thompson it is the rulers, landowners, and governments who were a problem for the people, whose exuberant culture preceded the formation of working-class institutions and consciousness.

Using a wide range of sources, Thompson shows how careful attention to fragmentary evidence helps to decode the fascinating symbolism of shaming rituals including “rough music,” and practices such as the ritual divorce known as “wife sale.” And in examining the vigorous presence of women in food riots from the sixteenth century onwards, he sheds further light on gender relations of the time.

Essential reading for all those intrigued by English history, Customs in Common has a special relevance today, as traditional economies are being replaced by market economies throughout the world. The rich scholarship and depth of insight in Thompson’s work offer many clues to understanding contemporary changes around the globe.
release date: Mar 01, 2013
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Whigs and Hunters
With Whigs and Hunters, the author of The Making of the English Working Class, E. P. Thompson plunged into the murky waters of the early eighteenth century to chart the violently conflicting currents that boiled beneath the apparent calm of the time. The subject is the Black Act, a law of unprecedented savagery passed by Parliament in 1723 to deal with 'wicked and evil-disposed men going armed in disguise'. These men were pillaging the royal forest of deer, conducting a running battle against the forest officers with blackmail, threats and violence. These 'Blacks', however, were men of some substance; their protest (for such it was) took issue with the equally wholsesale plunder of the forest by Whig nominees to the forest offices. And Robert Walpole, still consolidating his power, took an active part in the prosecution of the 'Blacks'. The episode is laden with political and social implications, affording us glimpses of considerable popular discontent, political chicanery, judicial inequity, corrupt ambition and crime.
release date: Jan 01, 1978
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Poverty of Theory
This classic collection of essays by E.P. Thompson, one of England’s most renowned socialist voices, remains a staple text in the history of Marxist theory. The bulk of the book is dedicated to Thompson’s famous polemic against Louis Althusser and what he considers the reductionism and authoritarianism of Althusserian structuralism. In lively and erudite prose, Thompson argues for a self-critical and unapologetically humanist Marxist tradition. Also included are three essays of considerable importance to the development of the New Left.
release date: Mar 01, 2001
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The Essential E. P. Thompson (New Press Essential)
The most comprehensive selection of writings from the acclaimed historian.
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release date: Jan 01, 1995
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Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law
Witness Against the Beast is a groundbreaking interdisciplinary study in which the renowned social historian E.P. Thompson contends that most of the assumptions scholars have made about William Blake are misleading and unfounded. Brilliantly reexamining Blake’s cultural milieu and intellectual background, Thompson detects in Blake’s poetry a repeated call to resist the usury and commercialism of the “Antichrist” embodied by contemporary society—to “witness against the beast.”
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release date: Jul 18, 2014
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E.P. Thompson and the Making of the New Left: Essays and Polemics
E. P. Thompson is a towering fi gure in the fi eld of labor history, best known for his monumental and path-breaking work, The Making of the English Working Class. But as this collection shows, Thompson was much more than a historian: he was a dedicated educator of workers, a brilliant polemicist, a skilled political theorist, and a tireless agitator for peace, against nuclear weapons, and for a rebirth of the socialist project.
 
The essays in this book, many of which are either out-of-print or diffi cult to obtain, were written between 1955 and 1963 during one of the most fertile periods of Thompson’s intellectual and political life, when he wrote his two great works, The Making of the English Working Class and William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary. They reveal Thompson’s insistence on the vitality of a humanistic and democratic socialism along with the value of utopian thinking in radical politics. Throughout, Thompson struggles to open a space independent of offi cial Communist Parties and reformist Social Democratic Parties, opposing them with a vision of socialism built from the bottom up. Editor Cal Winslow, who studied with Thompson, provides context for the essays in a detailed introduction and reminds us why this eloquent and inspiring voice remains so relevant to us today.
release date: Mar 07, 2011
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William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary (Spectre)
This biographical study is a window into 19th-century British society and the life of William Morris—the great craftsman, architect, designer, poet, and writer—who remains a monumental and influential figure to this day. This account chronicles how his concern with artistic and human values led him to cross what he called the “river of fire” and become a committed socialist—committed not only to the theory of socialism but also to the practice of it in the day-to-day struggle of working women and men in Victorian England. While both the British Labor Movement and the Marxists have venerated Morris, this legacy of his life proves that many of his ideas did not accord with the dominant reforming tendencies, providing a unique perspective on Morris scholarship.
release date: Jan 01, 1983
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Visions of History
In the last four decades, the writing of history has changed, altering radically our entire vision of the past. A new generation of iconoclastic historians is probing the lives of ordinary people, to uncover the real issues and conflicts that govern their world. Who are these new historians and what drove them to challenge the conventional views of their field? In thirteen candid interviews, the men and women who broke the mold of history talk about the political commitments and life experiences that influenced their work. E.P. Thomspon, Eric Hobsbawm, Sheila Rowbotham, Linda Gordon, Natalie Zemon Davis, William Appleman Williams, Staughton Lynd, David Montgomery, Herbert Gutman, Vincent Harding, John Womack, C.L.R. James, and Moshe Lewin.
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release date: Nov 01, 2009
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The Unknown Mayhew: Selections from the "Morning Chronicle" 1849-50
Henry Mayhew (1812-1887) was a notable Victorian journalist. He left for posterity a highly readable and memorable three-volume book, London Labour and the London Poor (1851): three volumes based on 82 letters written for the Morning Chronicle in 1849 and 1850. Packed with anecdote, it is unusual in the rich literature of poverty in London. This volume offers a selection from these letters, each of which averaged 10,500 words - a total of nearly one million words. "Do you read the Morning Chronicle?" Douglas Jerrold asked Mrs Cowden Clarke in February 1850. "Do you devour those marvellous revelations of the inferno of misery, of wretchedness, that is smouldering under our feet? ...To read of the suffering of one class, and the avarice, the tyranny, the pocket cannibalism of the other, makes one almost wonder that the world should go on..."
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