Andrew Stone

Not that long coming

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I am puzzled by Millie Fry's statement that in 1964 "the civil rights movement had yet to explode onto the scene" (Culture, Socialist Review, February 2009). The Civil Rights Act signed that year by Lyndon Johnson was one index of a long, hard-fought struggle.

Granted, the full desegregation of Southern schools was still a long way from being accomplished. But far from "taking its first tremulous, tension-ridden steps", the integration campaign had already forced a presidential intervention (backed by federal troops) in 1957 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The nine black students involved were actively supported by the NAACP, who had also been central to achieving the 1954 Supreme Court decision that helped to force Eisenhower's hand. This case, Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka, began way back in 1951.

The Forsaken

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Tim Tzouliadis, Little, Brown, £20

The Forsaken were the US emigrants abandoned by successive governments to the systematic repression of the Stalinist USSR. Vivid first hand accounts of the few survivors are woven together with subsequent research which has begun to establish the full horror of the gulag prison camp system.

The Complex

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Nick Turse, Faber and Faber, £16.99

After two terms in the White House, in which he engaged in stratospheric arms spending and plotted the overthrow of several unfriendly governments, a Republican president did something profoundly unexpected: he denounced the "military-industrial complex" dominating political life. In the reasonable expectation that George W Bush will not be expanding on Dwight Eisenhower's insight in his own closing address to the nation, Nick Turse has stepped into the breach by producing a damning and well-researched dossier on the ever more pervasive "complex" of the 21st century.

Fighters for Life

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Michael Rosen, Bookmarks, £7.99

"Who's heard of Michael Rosen?" I asked my class of Year 7s. A score of hands shot up. "I met him!" shouted Neelima. "Me too!" echoed Mahdi. "He came to our primary school," confirmed Mitchell. "I was this close to him."

If my Humanities class is anything to go by, the Children's Laureate has the full support of his constituency. Their enthusiasm speaks well of him, and them, because he is a writer who refuses to pander to cosy myths or talk down to his readers, whatever their age.

Feeling the Heat?

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Governments and big business clamour to show their green credentials but their 'solutions' fall way short of what is necessary. George Monbiot talked to Andrew Stone about his new book, Heat, and the more radical policies he believes are essential.

George Monbiot does not start Heat, his prospectus for fighting climate change, with melting glaciers or parched soil. He begins with the metaphor of Faust, the 16th century cautionary tale popularised by dramatist Christopher Marlowe in The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus: "Faust is a man who swaps the long term for the short term," he tells me, "in order to have 24 years of indulging himself to the absolute limit. He strikes a deal with the devil. He can get whatever he wants now, in return for eternal damnation. He refuses to believe that eternal damnation is a reality.

Inspiring Poetry

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Review of 'University of Hunger', Martin Carter, editor Gemma Robinson, Bloodaxe £12

In 1953 Martin Carter was a candidate for the People's Progressive Party (PPP) in British Guiana's first election with universal suffrage. The PPP won a landslide victory - the expression of a determined anti-colonial movement that also inspired a major strike in the sugar industry.

Wrong Friends

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Review of 'The Revenge Of Gaia', James Lovelock, Allen Lane £16.99

James Lovelock's Gaia theory is arguably the most significant contribution to environmental science since Vladimir Vernadsky theorised the biosphere in 1926. Like Vernadsky's work, Lovelock's theory of a dynamically integrated, self-regulating Earth system is fundamentally dialectical. It synthesises into a single Earth history previously isolated understandings of the evolution of organisms and the material world they inhabit.

No Safety with Nuclear

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Simon Dowdeswell (Letters, October SR) notes that a recent government committee report into the effects of nuclear radiation did not suggest a causal relationship between the Sellafield reprocessing plant and cancer rates.

He neglects to mention its highly dubious theory that the increased incidence of childhood cancer in the vicinity of the plant is a 'blip' caused by a virus.

Not a Level Playing Field

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Andrew Stone considers the politics of cricket.

Exhilarating - not an adjective often applied to test match cricket. But it was a fitting description of England's two-run win in the second test against Australia, and indeed of the entire Ashes series to date. A surge of interest greeted that nailbiting finish, and I'm sure I wasn't the only cricket lover suddenly called upon by previously uninterested friends to explain the finer points of the LBW law. It might seem wilfully perverse, therefore, for socialists to turn up our noses at the wave of sporting patriotism, to take an 'anyone but England' line.

By Jingo

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Britain's empire is nothing to be proud of.

If the strains of 'God Save The Queen' send a shiver of delight around your body; if you thought it was a good idea when Blair and Mandelson 'reclaimed' the British bulldog in an election ad; if the occupants of Henman Hill shouting 'C'mon Tim!' do not make you think, 'What a sad bunch of middle class losers'... then you might want to look away now.

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