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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.
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.