The story of the Luddite risings has all the ingredients for an excellent popular history: drama and excitement, poverty and exploitation, youthful resistance, violence and murder, romance and repression. Thanks to legal, Home Office, and newspaper evidence, and thanks especially to the work of earlier historians, Brian Bailey is able to convey a lively narrative of events which includes many telling details about the major protagonists. The book is at its best in the short chapters on the major attacks on properties and persons in Yorkshire and elsewhere, and in sensitively discussing the reaction of the authorities, the trials, and the punishments of offenders. There are however many weaknesses and trouble-some aspects to this book. Most historians would wish to challenge the value of a book that aims at a comprehensive account of the sequence of events, free from detailed interpretation of the sort that Bailey sees as clouding other works (p. iv). They will also be troubled by the many assertions that are unsupported by evidence, from rejection of the conventional account of the origin of the term “Luddite” (p. xi), to assessment of George Mellor's motivation (p. 142), to the notion that Midland framework knitters were “dull and unimaginative” (p. 15)! There are also many overblown statements and assumptions, which would immediately be questioned by any historian of the period, such as the development of “a class war”(p. xvii), and the narrow definition of “political” in discussion of communities which were, after all, engaged in a struggle over control of the means of production. Some would argue that this is inherently “political.” And if the “small, dark people of Celtic origin” (sic, p. 15) who comprised the Midlands workforce were so apolitical, one might ask why news of the prime minister's assassination in May 1812 was greeted in Nottingham with great joy, exultation, bonfires, flags, and drums (E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class. 2d ed. Harmonsdsworth: Penguin, 1968: 932). It is a pity that Bailey appears to draw so little from Thompson's research (and particularly from his debates with Church and Chapman), except where he is rejecting Thompson's interpretation of Luddite motivations. Others will be unhappy with Bailey's superficial tin-pot psychology in attempting to rehabilitate the role and meaning of “mob behaviour” (pp. 148–51), and with the sparse footnoting and limited bibliography (no journal articles, few books published since 1990), which make it difficult to gauge exactly what has been drawn from primary sources and what has been derived from other secondary literature.