Clare Fermont

The Joy of Empathy

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Review of 'Michael Rosen's Sad Book', Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake, Walker £10.99

What I like best about this book are the pictures. I've always liked Quentin Blake's pictures because you can know the story by looking at them.

The first picture (of Michael Rosen smiling) is my favourite because it's really accurate yet there's not much there. And with the words the first page is very truthful because it says that really he's sad but he puts on a happy face, just to try and make other people not feel sad... and I'm like that sometimes.

Hostage to Misfortune

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Review of 'Good Morning, Night', director Marco Bellochio

A film about the kidnapping of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro in 1978 sounded promising. Perhaps it would explore the politics of the kidnappers, the Red Brigades, or the possible complicity of the Italian state in Moro's assassination.

No such luck. Instead a horrid film that could easily have been produced by Washington to justify its 'war on terror'.

Haiti: The Meek and the Militant

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Haiti's current crisis is rooted in its history of colonialism.

Two hundred years ago a rag-tag army of slaves led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, himself a slave, defeated Europe's finest colonial armies and won independence for Haiti. This remarkable revolution is barely known outside Haiti, but the world's ruling powers have never forgiven the country and its people for their victory.

In the 1700s Haiti (then called San Domingo) was the richest colony in the world. The source of the wealth was the island's lush plantations and the brutal exploitation of half a million slaves captured from Africa.

Containing the Spring

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Review of ’Syria‘ by Alan George, Zed Books £13.95

With barely a pause for breath after Saddam Hussein was toppled, officials in Washington began hinting that Syria would be the next US military target. We were told that Syria too was a ’rogue‘ state that was developing weapons of mass destruction and was also backing Palestinian ’terrorism‘.

Striking Back Against Empire

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Review of 'Anti-Imperialism', ed. Farah Reza, Bookmarks £10

'I used not to use the word imperialism. I thought young people wouldn't even know what it meant... Suddenly I find that everyone is using the words imperialism and anti-imperialism.' George Galloway is spot on. The war in Iraq has meant that millions of people are asking questions about imperialism, questions that this excellent and timely handbook goes a long way to answering.

Through the Maze

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Review of 'Carrying the Elephant', Michael Rosen, Penguin £7.99

We spent the afternoon in the park. He ran around like a loon playing French cricket with the girls and ate too many peanuts. In the evening we had cold meat and salad, and then went to bed. A couple of hours later he called out my name and I knew he was dying. Then the doctors said he was dying. Then they operated and he didn't wake up. Two days later I came home and saw his plate where he had left it. On it were two curled slices of salami he'd rejected. That was when the grief hit.

Socialist Alliance: Pretty Bubbles Everywhere

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We're all still bubbling with excitement in Hackney Socialist Alliance after the Foot for Mayor campaign, despite our collective exhaustion.

Why are we excited? After all, in the three other mayoral elections in October, Labour was beaten, while in Hackney the leader of the Labour council--which has one of the worst records nationally of privatisations, corruption, racism, cuts to services and sell-offs--won the election easily.

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