Against the Bomb: The British Peace Movement, 1958-1965

Against the Bomb: The British Peace Movement, 1958-1965

Against the Bomb: The British Peace Movement, 1958-1965

Against the Bomb: The British Peace Movement, 1958-1965


One of the largest, and arguably one of the most significant, extra-parliamentary movements ever seen in modern Britain was the nuclear disarmament movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Comprising anarchists, communists, and Trotskyists, as well as Christians, liberals, and members of the Labour Party, the movement provided its members with a means to articulate their growing fear and anxiety about the seemingly inexorable arms race and the horror of nuclear war. Analyzing a wealth of historical data, this is the first comprehensive study of the disarmament movement to offer the previously unrecorded views of 20 of its leaders.


This book is based upon my Ph.D. thesis, and my greatest debt is to my supervisor, friend, and colleague David Coates, who provided initial and continuing encouragement, advice, and guidance.

I am also very grateful for their support and advice to my friends Jill Liddington, Colin Pritchard, Luke Spencer, and Nigel Young. Details of primary and other sources consulted are given in the Bibliography, but thanks must be given here to all those leadership figures in the Peace Movement who consented so readily to the in-depth interviews which form an important primary source for the study; to April Carter and the late Hugh Brock for the loan of the DAC archive for consultation; to Arthur Goss for the loan of the NCANWT archive for consultation; to numerous individuals who were active in the Peace Movement for the loan of private collections of papers; to the British Library of Political and Economic Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, for access to the CND archive, and to numerous Movement pamphlets, relevant newspapers, etc.; to the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick; to the Librarian at the Commonweal Collection, housed in the J. B. Priestley Library, University of Bradford; to the Library at the University of Hull, where the Daily Worker and other Marxist source material was available for consultation; to Peter Cadogan for permission to consult the Committee of 100 press cuttings collection and numerous other papers relating to the Committee; to the research section of the City of Leeds Central Library, for access to various periodicals; and to the Inter-Library Loan staff at the Brotherton Library, University of Leeds.

I am also very grateful to Liz Dawson for typing the final manuscript so quickly and efficiently.

This book deals with issues that are still contentious and with perspectives that, in some respects, are sharply divergent. It may be, therefore, more than usually necessary to emphasize that the full responsibility for the views expressed, and for any inaccuracies or infelicities that remain, is mine alone.


Leeds February 1987 . . .

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