Tony Phillips

The Wichita Lineman: Searching in the Sun for the World’s Greatest Unfinished Song

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This book tells you everything you need to know about the background, recording and legacy of The Wichita Lineman, a classic country pop ballad that helped to launch the careers of both singer Glen Campbell and songwriter Jimmy Webb.

As a teenage rock fan I would have rather died than admit to liking anything by anybody as middle of the road as Campbell. He was part of the cultural backlash in the US against the anti-war movement and the counterculture.

Maoism: A Global History

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Author Julia Lovell provides an overview of Maoism in China and all the countries in which it had or still has influence. The book includes a lot of detail on various Maoist movements around the world but offers only a superficial explanation for Mao Zedong’s rise and the spread of his ideas. It includes many entertaining anecdotes but it does not provide sufficient historical context.

The Case for People’s Quantitative Easing

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Financial blogger Frances Coppola has written a clear, informative little book arguing the case for what she calls “quantitative easing for the people” which she believes can end the stagnation in the world economy since the financial crash of 2008.

Quantitative easing (QE) is a process by which central banks create money digitally (“print money”) and use it to buy bonds in government, banks and corporations. QE played a crucial role in propping up the financial system in the US and elsewhere following the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

A People’s History of the German Revolution

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The German Revolution of 1918 to 1923 was one of the most important yet little known events of the 20th century. Had the workers emerged victorious it is likely that there would have been no Stalinism, no Hitler, no Second World War, no Holocaust and we would be living in a very different world today. The late Bill Pelz has written a brief and enjoyable history of the revolution up to 1920.

Pelz explains how the rapid development of capitalism in the newly unified German state created a working class with a high level of class consciousness.

Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism

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This fascinating book builds on the work of Marxists such as John Bellamy Foster to argue that Karl Marx’s thought is central to understanding that humanity’s destruction of the planet is due to the capitalist mode of production. It is a further blow against the perception that Marx was a naive Promethean — someone who believed that simply increasing production will solve all humanity’s ills and that therefore Marxism has nothing to say about ecological crisis.

Russia in Revolution

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Steve Smith has provided a useful overview of Russian history from the end of the 19th century to the 1920s centred, of course, on the dramatic events of 1917 and their aftermath.

He presents a panoramic view and yet includes a considerable amount of detail for a relatively short book.

Smith argues that the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 were rooted in the clash between the growing pressure for modernisation of Russia society and the barrier represented by the Tsarist regime.

Hesitant Comrades

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Given that Ireland was officially part of the UK until 1922 and that many British unions organised in Ireland, not to mention that large numbers of Irish workers lived in Britain, you might assume that the struggle for independence was a major issue for the British labour movement of the day. In fact, as this book brings out, it was an embarrassment for the leaders of both the Labour Party and the trade unions.

Strikes stopped call-up

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There was an important omission in Chris Fuller’s fascinating piece on resistance to conscription during the First World War (“Forced to fight their war”, March SR). Chris concludes by stating that the government backed off from introducing conscription in Ireland “still stunned by the Easter Rising”. In fact it was mass resistance, crucially the general strike called by the Irish TUC, that forced Lloyd George to retreat.

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