Red Threads: A History of the People’s Flag

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.