Mark Farmer

Learning from the Germans: Confronting Race and the Memory of Evil

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This is a book about making amends. In particular, it is about the way that modern Germany has come to view, and deal with, the legacy of the Holocaust. The author is a Jewish American, originally from the south, who has lived for a long time in Berlin. The main focus of the work is on how the German example can be used to help the US, and in particular the southern states, to atone for the historical crime of slavery.

The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg

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This year marks the 100th anniversary of the loss of the great German revolutionaries Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. They both died on the night of 15 January 1919, murdered in Berlin by right wing irregular soldiers known as the Freikorps.

Their deaths irrevocably altered the path of the German Revolution, which defeat in turn paved the way for the Nazis. Despite a number of investigations at the time and subsequently, nobody was ever convicted of the murders.

Reporting the Troubles

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The period in the history of Northern Ireland that has become known as “The Troubles” spanned three decades and saw the loss of over 3,600 lives. More than 2,000 of these were civilians and all this in an area that contained less than 2 million people.

This book is an attempt to tell some of the stories of this time, beginning with the civil rights movement in Derry in October 1968 and concluding with the Good Friday Agreement of April 1998.

South Africa’s Corporatised Liberation

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A recent World Bank report, published in March 2018, showed South Africa to be the most unequal society on earth. Seventy five percent of the country’s aggregate wealth is held by the richest tenth of the population, while the poorest half hold a mere 2.5 percent. These 30 million people, in fact, have a total wealth equivalent to the two richest South Africans. The report points out, rightly, that much of this inequality is the responsibility of the racist apartheid regime that ruled South Africa from 1948 to 1994.

The Essential Fictions

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For a man who died aged only 45, Isaac Babel had a prodigious output. He was born in 1894 into a reasonably well-off Jewish family in the port of Odessa, currently part of Ukraine but then in Russia. As a young man he was prevented from entering university, as Tsarist Russia placed quotas on the numbers of Jewish students allowed to enrol. Nonetheless the young Babel showed himself to be adept with words and languages, coming to the attention of writer Maxim Gorky in 1915.

Splinterlands

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The world of 2050 is a frightening, unstable place. The European Union has collapsed, having “hit a wall of Euroskepticism, fiscal austerity and xenophobia”. The United States is beset by environmental disasters, with Washington having been destroyed by Hurricane Donald in 2022.

A great uprising has fragmented China, and Russia has disintegrated along ethnic lines. Nationalism and terrorism are rife and the few centres of “order” are authoritarian safe havens where capital and the super-rich can carry on as before.

No Way But This: In search of Paul Robeson

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Paul Robeson must be counted as one of the most remarkable Americans of his era, or indeed any era. It was for his singing voice that he was best known but that reflected only a fraction of his talents.

He was a good enough actor to be offered leading roles in a number of films and in theatre productions in the West End of London and on Broadway. He was also an outstanding athlete. All this was achieved in the face of the discrimination that came his way for being an African-American.

Unleashing Demons

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It is alleged in some quarters that we are seeing “buyer’s remorse” in the UK over the referendum decision to leave the EU. This reviewer has not felt it and the polls do not seem to support it, but Tony Blair, no less, is threatening to return on the back of it.

There is undoubtedly a more widely held perception that it is somehow more progressive to support the EU than to oppose it. This book, unintentionally, goes some way towards dispelling that particular myth.

The Ways of the World

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David Harvey is a Marxist geographer whose writing has spanned five decades. The Ways of the World is intended to be a lightning tour of this work, comprising a series of articles written by Harvey from the 1970s up to the present. Along the way it takes in everything from the nature of crises under capitalism to environmental degradation, via car plant strikes in Oxford and the novels of Raymond Williams.

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