Roger Smith

The Laughter of Our Children

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Review of 'Free Radical', Tony Benn,
Continuum £12.99

Tony Benn's latest book is a collection of essays from 2001-02 written for the Morning Star. There are several excellent pieces on Palestine, US foreign policy and privatisation which make this a worthwhile read. However, there is also the central conundrum with much of Benn's political trajectory - 'spending more time with my politics' since he left the House of Commons - that are difficult for revolutionary socialists, namely his insistence that the task of the left is to reclaim the Labour Party. After all, he states, 'I didn't join "New" Labour.

Outcasts, Underdogs and Barbarians

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Review of 'What I Saw', Joseph Roth, Granta £14.99

This is a curious little book of 34 short essays that at first appears like a cross between an urban country diary from the 'Guardian', a latter-day Mayhew's London, or Orwell's classic 'Down and Out in Paris and London'. It is an eclectic mix of observations of everyday life in Weimar Berlin that ranges from construction sites to traffic, leisure, individual profiles and finally, albeit sparsely, a political commentary on the Weimar Republic's decline into Nazism.

The Bishops and the Brickies

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Review of 'The Communist Party of Great Britain since 1920', James Eaden and David Renton, Palgrave £40

Why should we be interested in the history of a party which dissolved itself 11 years ago, shrouded among accusations of reformism, spying for the USSR and trousering the infamous 'Moscow Gold'? The most obvious reason is that the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) certainly 'punched far above its weight'.

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