On a perfect summer's day in August - as a faint breeze cooled the heat of the noonday sun and gently lifted the flags to display their mottoes and emblems - a huge crowd, mainly of working people, gathered on St Peter's Field in Manchester to discuss the universal right to vote that we now all take for granted. Conspicuously present at the meeting were women, the breeze dishevelling their long hair as they enthusiastically doffed their hats to cheer. Suddenly, before the proceedings could begin, the peaceful crowd was savagely dispersed, the work of charging cavalrymen wielding recently sharpened sabres, backed up by the truncheons of the constabulary and the bayonets of the infantry. When the screams had subsided and the dust had settled on the blood-stained ground, the true horror of the attack started to become clear.
Over 650 were injured and more than 17 died, many women and children among them Drawing on eight surviving casualty lists, full of information about the victims and their attackers, Professor Michael Bush gives us the first truly objective assessment of the day's events. He shows that this was no mere act of dispersal. It was an act of terror and humiliation worthy of the epithet `massacre', and unequalled in the history of Britain.