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Synopsis

The Perreaus and Mrs. Rudd tells the remarkable story of a complex forgery uncovered in London in 1775. Like the trials of Martin Guerre and O.J. Simpson, the Perreau-Rudd case--filled with scandal, deceit, and mystery--preoccupied a public hungry for sensationalism. Peopled with such familiar figures as John Wilkes, King George III, Lord Mansfield, and James Boswell, this story reveals the deep anxieties of this period of English capitalism. The case acts as a prism that reveals the hopes, fears, and prejudices of that society. Above all, this episode presents a parable of the 1770s, when London was the center of European finance and national politics, of fashionable life and tell-all journalism, of empire achieved and empire lost. While the decade of the 1770s has most frequently been studied in relation to imperial concerns and their impact upon the political institutions of the day, this book draws a different portrait of the period, making a cause célèbre its point of entry. Exhaustively researched and brilliantly presented, it offers both a vivid panorama of London and a gauge for tracking the shifting social currents of the period.

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