Jeff Jackson

Going Home

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The murderous attack and eviction of tens of thousands of Palestinians in 1948 (Nakba) from their homes and land by Israeli Zionists signalled the cruel and inhumane methods that the newly established colonialist state would employ and condone in securing their goal of a “homeland”.

The Quarter

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In his brilliant essay “The Storyteller” Walter Benjamin reflects on the work of the Russian writer Nikolai Leskov, concluding that “the storyteller is the figure in which the righteous man encounters himself”.

We could do no better than if we approach the work of Naguib Mahfouz with Benjamin’s reflections of Leskov in mind.

Mahfouz was born in Cairo in 1911 and died in 2006. He created a body of work that is regarded as some of the most influential Arabic literature of the 20th century. In 1988 he became the first Arab writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Glasgow 1919

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1919 saw the world in turmoil. Emerging exhausted from the slaughter of the First World War, ordinary people across the globe were questioning how society was organised and working class people, inspired by the flaming light of the Russian Revolution of 1917, were not just demanding fundamental change; they were determined to fight for it.

From Italy to Egypt and from Berlin to Limerick working people were willing to topple regimes and rulers who would not deliver change. Britain was no exception.

How It Happened

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This is a long overdue translation of Erno Munkácsi’s 1947 first-hand account of the final months and days that saw the extermination of over 400,000 Hungarian Jews in the death camp at Auschwitz. It is a powerful addition to any serious understanding of the degradation, humiliation and ultimately extermination that befell European Jewry with the victory of fascism. It should serve as an urgent and powerful reminder to all those fighting the far right today as to what awaits us if we are unable to stem its poisonous ideology.

Rise Like Lions: Poetry for the Many

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Any anthology of poetry that takes part of its title from the great revolutionary poet Shelley’s cry of anger and call to arms in response to the Peterloo Massacre, The Mask of Anarchy, and reprints the poem in full, is going to be worth reading.
Add to this the works of Milton, Blake, Brecht and Langston Hughes (to name but a few) and it becomes an even more attractive proposition.

Charlotte Salomon and the Theatre of Memory

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In his monumental work, Weimar in Exile, Jean-Michel Palmier powerfully evokes the huge sense of loss, displacement and trauma that artists, writers and intellectuals faced when they were forced into exile from Nazi Germany as the fascist regime tightened its grip and control of the German state during the 1930s and then across Europe with the onset of war and occupation.

The Fearless Benjamin Lay

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The just man who is resolute/ Will not be turned from his purpose/ Either by the rage of the crowd or/ By an imperious tyrant. Roberts Vaux, an early biographer of Benjamin Lay, quoted these lines by Rome’s lyric poet of antiquity, Horace, to describe the fortitude and courage Lay showed throughout his remarkable life in the face of the ill will and taunts expressed towards him by those who benefitted from the vile transatlantic slave trade. And where not better to start a review of this simply very good book?

A Revolution Undone

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H M Hellyer was both witness and participant in the momentous events that shook Egypt in 2011 and the subsequent developments that finally led to the military coup of July 2013. From visiting and staying in Tahrir Square to helping form one of the numerous local committees that sprang up to guard and look after local communities when the regime sent out its thugs, Hellyer was joyously drawn to the revolution and his world outlook was transformed.

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