Tager, a history professor, explores the collective social violence commonly identified as the Boston riots, from the early food uprisings in the prerevoluntionary colonial era to the antibusing riots in the 1970s. He focuses on the players, motives, expectations, and failures. Generally this study reflects views, interests, and prejudices not often seen in U.S. history: riots over excessive charges for grain, reflecting anticapitalist views; the Pope Day riots, reflecting strong anti-Catholic bias; and abolition and draft riots, reflecting the racial biases of the Civil War era. Tager's final chapters, on the urban riots (1967 and 1968) and the antibusing riots (1974 through 1976), reflect similar responses to hopelessness and despair. Although the impetus for the urban riots duplicated, in many respects, issues that sparked past riots among the lower-class white ethnics, the antibusing riots demonstrated an inability to perceive class interests in lieu of race. Tager avoids judging the various social contexts that sparked the riots but recognizes a societal need to provide creative and productive outlets for the powerless who find violence an effective means to vent. Vernon Ford
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About the Author
JACK TAGER is Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the coauthor of Massachusetts: A Concise History and coeditor of Historical Atlas of Massachusetts. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.