Sarah Ensor

Blame it on Fidel

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Director: Julie Gavras; Release date: 26 October

In 1970s middle class Paris Anna, the nine year old daughter of a journalist and a lawyer, is serenely confident in her small world. From her parents' large apartment to holidaying at her grandparents' Bordeaux estate through her catholic school she is absolutely sure of how to behave in every situation.

She is neat, conscientious and is perfectly happy to force other children around her to follow suit.

Aids: Globalisation as Epidemic

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Sarah Ensor examines the reasons for the spread of Aids in Africa.

Centuries from now television audiences will not look back at Aids as we do at the Black Death of the 14th century. We've seen the dramatisations of scabrous, sacking-clad peasants collapsed in smoky huts, utterly helpless before an apocalyptic disease and a middle aged historian in a leather jacket. He cheerfully explains that the death of one third of the population of Europe loosened the bonds of feudalism and created a space for a new economic form, capitalism, to emerge. The plague of HIV/Aids that is ravaging Africa is not a development opportunity.

The Famous Five

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Review of 'Pride and Prejudice', director Joe Wright

Pride and Prejudice is the story of Mrs Bennet's mission to get her five daughters married. Their 'estate', a large house and a farm, will go to a male cousin when Mr Bennet dies. It is therefore a business that Mrs Bennet takes seriously.

Bookbriefs

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Book clubs have a long and interesting history

The world has never been so literate. Never before have so many people been able to read. Even those considered to be functionally illiterate in Britain will recognise dozens of words associated with brands and services when they go shopping or travel to work. Millions of people buy hobby or sports magazines, fiction, politics and history for their own pleasure and information. If you don't go out looking for it, it'll come through the letterbox - free newspapers, party political leaflets and if you're lucky even your postal vote.

Bookbriefs

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A selection of books on the history and continuing reality of US and British imperialism.

There are library shelves groaning with all the thousands of books about US imperialism. In War is a Racket (Turnaround £6.99) Smedley Butler of the Marines describes himself as a gangster for capitalism. This book was written in 1935, and since then many Americans have raged at the barbarity of their government's behaviour abroad. Al Capone only worked in three districts - Butler and his Marines operated on three continents, crushing democratically elected governments.

Does It Dry Up?

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Review of 'A Raisin in the Sun' by Lorraine Hansberry

In the programme of this wonderfully vivacious production Bonnie Greer writes that 'Lorraine Hansberry was a middle class girl who understood the hopes and dreams of the black working class, because, in the end, she understood that we are one people.' What rubbish! This play jumps with the angry politics of class as well as race. Hansberry also wrote her characters with such confidence that the audience rolls between the comedy and impending disaster. We really do care how this is going to turn out.

Bookbriefs

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Left books about women - Books from skips - House of Bush, House of Saud - Lev Kamenev - Australian women - Against the war

American women workers can claim a lot of the credit for the first International Women's Day in 1911. On Sunday 8 March 1908, hundreds of women demonstrated in New York. They wanted the vote and a fighting needle trades union. Clara Zetkin, the German revolutionary, argued that this should be the date of a day dedicated to fighting for equal rights for all women-everywhere. Almost a century later there is a real shortage of new left wing books about women.

Bookbriefs

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Social struggles are at the heart of many great American novels from the first half of the last century.

Literature does not remake the world, but it can change the way we see it. The most 'political' novels are those that give us new ways to think about the conditions that we want to change, and of all the American novels from the first four decades of the 20th century, two famously span the extremes of experience of capitalism. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (Wordsworth £1.50) describes the 'Jazz Age' among the very rich of Long Island. These pointless people are so bored that wrecking each other's lives and those around them does at least pass the day.

View from a Gantry

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Review of 'The Inheritance', director Per Fly

A young golden couple live the good life in central Stockholm. Maria, an actor, is beginning to be offered lead classical roles in the national theatre. Her husband Christoffer is a successful restaurateur and they have just found, between Maria's performances, the perfect spot for a new restaurant. They are a partnership and love each other very much. Then Christoffer's father turns up unexpectedly at their flat and sets off a chain of events that leads both of them to do the exact opposite of what they wanted and planned.

Bookbriefs

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Flushing out the detox books - Why civilisations collapse - Sharon and My Mother-in-Law - Profiting from Iraq - US politicians - Ursula Le Guin - Paul Foot on the vote

January is traditionally not a good time for new books. Publishers reason that we will be miserable at being back at work with enormous post-Xmas debt and having grossly over-indulged. Well, we could all do with a good clear out. Over 1 million detox books have been sold in Britain. Go through your house and presents. Find them in your bathroom, under the sofa, on the coffee table and maybe even lurking in your recipe books. Bag them all up with any stray sweet wrappers and tinsel that the cat has been worrying for weeks, and chuck them out. You'll feel better.

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