Bookbriefs

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Miners' strike - Left US teaching resources - David Dabydeen - Gift ideas

This has been a very good year for socialist readers. The 20th anniversary of the Great Miners' Strike, the ESF in London and the ongoing anti-war movement have generated dozens of important books for activists. Here are a few you may have missed.

Alongside the novels GB84 by David Peace (Faber £12.99), Born under Punches by Martyn Waites, (Pocket Books £6.99) and the photographic history of the strike, Striking Back by Mike Simons (Bookmarks £9), belongs The English Civil War II by Jeremy Deller (Artangel £19.95) with personal accounts of the strike and a CD of interviews with former miners and their wives. Yorkshire's Flying Pickets in the 1984-85 Miners' Strike is based on the diary of Silverwood miner Bruce Wilson (Wharncliffe Books £9.99) with maps and the extraordinary recollections of what it was like to live in a village descended on by hundreds of police officers.


From the US, just in case anyone was the teeniest bit tempted to think the place is irredeemably right wing, comes the Rethinking Schools project. This consists of teaching resources in the traditions of Paulo Freire, Harold Pinter and Michael Rosen. Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson (Rethinking Schools £10.99) looks at views of globalisation from below. It uses role-plays and simulations, interviews, poems, cartoons, articles and student handouts. It is very accessible, and if you're not a teacher you could give it to a teenager near you to arm herself for arguments at school.

There's also Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice vols 1 & 2, £8 each; Transforming Teacher Unions: Fighting for Better Schools and Social Justice, £8; Failing our Kids: Why the Testing Craze Won't Fix our Schools, £5; Reading, Writing and Rising Up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word, £8.


In Turner: New and Selected Poems (Peepal Tree £7.99) David Dabydeen's main poem gives voices and history to the people in the foreground of Turner's 1840 painting Slave Ship (slavers throwing the dead and dying overboard, typhoon coming on). The dying are not being put out of their misery. It's just that they are worth more as an insurance claim. This little book came out with the TV documentary about David's journey back to his great great great grandparents' home where he found his grandfather's name on a slave-purchasing account list. His poems evoke the salt and humidity of these places, and Creole, as a language that is strange and familiar. In addition, the painting itself is beautifully reproduced on a frontispiece.


Now gift ideas: The Curious Incident of the WMD in Iraq by Rohan Candappa (Profile Books £5.99) is all about Tony, the prime minister, and why he did a war on Iraq and explains how he was right all along about everything. It also promises that it 'can be read in 45 minutes - this may turn out not to be true'.

But you may feel this is not proactive enough, in which case Citizen You! (New Press £11.95) is the perfect handbook for your family. Learn what it means to be a good citizen, and how you can impress the authorities so they'll leave you alone. Find out if your neighbours are in Al Qaeda and how to avoid mistakes of thought. With quizzes, games and profiles of all our favourite presidential appointees and their advice on the dangers of alternative power, the immorality of class warfare and perhaps best of all, Paul Bremer's wise words on the importance of keeping foreign fighters out of Iraq.