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Red Threads

Red Threads

A History of the People's Flag

by Henry Bell

From its origins in the hands of Atlantic pirates and French kings, this magisterial history follows the Red Flag through the centuries

The red flag: there is no symbol, perhaps other than the crucifix and the crescent moon, that so many people have lived and died for. A standard of hope and resistance to millions, and of terror and tyranny to many. But why is the red flag red? How did it come to represent the workers against the propertied class? And how did it travel the world?

In Henry Bell's lively account, we journey around the globe and back through history, tracing the lineage of the red flag as both a material object and a symbol. The book explores the triumphs and disasters of the flag's history, its designers and makers, heroes and villains, and the utopias and wastelands that have kept the red flag flying.

From its martial beginnings in Rome and France, to the raising of a blood stained flag at the Merthyr Rising and the arrival of the red flag at the Paris Commune; from the jungles of north-eastern India to the factories of Cuba; Red Threads explores how this symbol of working class power first came to be held aloft in the hands of revolutionaries; who raises it today; and its meaning for the future.

Henry Bell is a historian and award-winning poet based in Glasgow. He is the author of John Maclean: Hero of Red Clydeside, described as 'compelling and brilliantly written' by Jackie Kay, Scottish Poet Laureate. He brings people's history to life through running Radical Glasgow Tours, and is a committee member of the Red Sunday School, a socialist school for young people. He has written for National Geographic, Open Democracy and Bella Caledonia.

Introduction: The Signal of the Emergency
1. War
2. Defiance
3. Revolution
4. The International
5. The Commune
6. Workers
7. Peace
8. Utopia
9. Tyranny
10. The Dispossessed
11. Subversion
12. Peasants
13. Chinese Characteristics
14. The Present
15. The Future

Published by Pluto Press in Sep 2024
Hardcover ISBN: 9780745347691
eBook ISBN: 9780745347707

153mm x 234mm