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The Magna Carta Manifesto

Liberties and Commons for All

Peter Linebaugh (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 376 pages
ISBN: 9780520260009
June 2009
$29.95, £24.00
Other Formats Available:
This remarkable book shines a fierce light on the current state of liberty and shows how longstanding restraints against tyranny—and the rights of habeas corpus, trial by jury, and due process of law, and the prohibition of torture—are being abridged. In providing a sweeping history of Magna Carta, the source of these protections since 1215, this powerful book demonstrates how these ancient rights are repeatedly laid aside when the greed of privatization, the lust for power, and the ambition of empire seize a state. Peter Linebaugh draws on primary sources to construct a wholly original history of the Great Charter and its scarcely-known companion, the Charter of the Forest, which was created at the same time to protect the subsistence rights of the poor.

1. Introduction
2. Two Charters
3. The Commodity and the Commons
4. Charters Lost and Found
5. The Charters in Blackface and Whiteface
6. 1776 and Runnamede
7. The Law of the Jungle
8. Magna Carta and the U.S. Supreme Court
9. Icon and Idol
10. This Land Was Made by You and Me
11. The Constitution of the Commons
12. Conclusion

1. Magna Carta
2. The Charter of the Forest
Further Reading
Peter Linebaugh is Professor of History at the University of Toledo. He is the author of The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century and coauthor (with Marcus Rediker) of Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic.
“Traces a proud lineage of battles against the over-mighty state with the "Great Charter" to hand. And it does so with a passion, eloquence and lyrical reverence for the hard-won freedoms of Old England that take the breath away.”—The Independent
“The year's most lyrical and necessary book on liberty. The Magna Carta Manifesto is such a pleasure to read that it is easy to forget that it provides essential arguments for renewing civil liberties in the U.S. and internationally.”—John Nichols The Nation
“Shows how restraints against tyranny are being abridged as rights once held inalienable are laid aside.”—Times Higher Education
“Linebaugh should be commended for the impressive scope of his analysis. . . . The joining together of serious historical analysis with a passionate clarity about contemporary injustice is a welcome contribution to a world where historical scholarship is too often divorced, however impossibly, from politics.”—Insight Turkey
"This is an original, powerful and ground breaking book. It is utterly fascinating and charts a path that gives me, and will give others, hope for a better future. Linebaugh sends an important message to a world that increasingly believes that private ownership of our resources can make us more prosperous. As we struggle to regain lost liberty The Magna Carta Manifesto makes us understand that freedom is about guaranteeing the economic and social rights that allow all of us to partake of political freedom."—Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights

"Ideas can be beautiful too, and the ideas Peter Linebaugh provokes and maps in this history of liberty are dazzling, reminders of what we have been and who we could be. In this remarkable small book, he traces one path of liberty back to the forests and the economic independence they represented for medieval Britons, another path to recent revolutionaries, another to the Bush Administration's assaults on habeas corpus, the Constitution, and liberty and he links the human rights charter that Magna Carta represented to the less-known Forest Charter, drawing a missing link between ecological and social well-being."—Rebecca Solnit, author of Storming the Gates of Paradise

"There is not a more important historian living today. Period."—Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

"Ranging across the centuries, and from England to Asia, Africa and the Americas, Peter Linebaugh shows us the contested history of Magna Carta—how the liberties it invoked were secured and (as today) violated, and how generations of ordinary men and women tried to revive the idea of the commons in the hope of building a better world."—Eric Foner, author of The Story of American Freedom

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