Books

Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power, Lola Olufemi, Pluto Press £9.99

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The Black Lives Matter movement led by young people is rapidly shifting the discussion around racism. At the same time, the scale and energy of the movement is bringing people together, black and white, in solidarity and unity. In this climate, Lola Olufemi’s book Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power, while only recently published, already feels years behind.

Many Mouths: the Politics of Food in Britain from the Workhouse to the Welfare State, Nadja Durbach, Cambridge University Press £34.99

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Many Mouths is “a study of the material and the symbolic importance of feeding programmes initiated by the British government for particular target populations from the 1830s through the 1960s”. Focusing on the nation state and its relationship with food programme ‘recipients’, the book uses case studies — paupers, prisoners, famine victims, prisoners of war, schoolchildren, wartime civilians on the home front, and pregnant women, infants, and toddlers — to discuss the role of food in political relations between government and the governed.

Searching for Socialism: the Project of the Labour New Left from Benn to Corbyn, Colin Leys and Leo Panitch, Verso £8.99

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Searching for Socialism is a history of the Labour Party from the 1970s until 2019. Its authors, the Canadian academic Leo Panitch and British author Colin Leys, have condensed their 2000 book, The End of Parliamentary Socialism, to form the first five chapters. The rest of the book consists of new material on Labour under Blair, Brown, Miliband and Corbyn.

Hiding in Plain Sight: the Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America, Sarah Kendzior, Flatiron £22

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If you only read one journalistic account of Donald Trump’s America make sure it is Sarah Kendzior’s Hiding in Plain Sight. It is certainly one of the most devastating indictments not only of the Crooked President himself but of the corrupt system that put him in power. Kendzior first came to notice with the publication of a collection of her journalism, The View from Flyover Country, which provides a powerful account of post-2008 America from the point of view of the blue and white collar working class.

Sway: the Science of Unconscious Bias by Pragya Argawal

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This book represents what has largely become mainstream thinking on race, gender, sex and sexuality. Argawal argues that a large body of human behaviour, especially oppression, prejudice and discrimination, results from irrational decisions governed by our implicit or unconscious bias towards people who are different to us.

She combines her experiences as a single parent from India with her academic research in behavioural science.

The mirror and the light

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The final book in Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about the sixteenth century statesman Thomas Cromwell has finally arrived. The success of the previous books—Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring Up The Bodies (2012)—made Mantel a superstar among authors and the publication of the final part of the story has been afforded the sort of saturation media coverage more usually associated with the likes of the Harry Potter franchise than with serious literature.

Burned: The Inside Story of the ‘Cash-for-Ash’ Scandal

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Earlier this month Sir Patrick Coghlan’s enquiry into Northern Ireland’s Renewal Heating Initiative (RHI) scandal published its 650 page report.

It took 270,000 words to effectively whitewash the role of Stormont Executive and the DUP’s Arlene Foster in particular. It concluded that ‘there was no evidence of corruption’ whilst acknowledging ‘incompetence’ and ‘wholly inappropriate behaviour’ from ministers and their advisors.

The Lost Decade, 2000-2010, and What Lies Ahead for Britain

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Welcome to Polly Toynbee’s unremittingly grey Britain. Of course, there are very many elements of truth to the picture she and her co-author David Walker paint in this book about a decade of Tory rule, all of which will be familiar to readers of this magazine.

This is a compendium of reminders of just how much the Tories have lied, attacked the most vulnerable, overseen a huge rise in homelessness, poverty, inequality and rotten, badly paid jobs, used racism to divide and so on.

Civilization Critical: Energy, Food, Nature and the Future

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Darrin Qualman was the primary researcher and writer for the National Farmers Union, a Canadian organisation of farm families promoting environmentally safe farming practices, until 2010. His work focused on food, agriculture, energy, climate change, the environment, the economy and trade.

His book offers a complex analysis of civilisation today, focusing on our energy, food and material flows. His analysis of past civilisations demonstrates the environmental impacts produced by the power sources fuelling them.

Who the Hell is Karl Marx? And What Are His Theories All About?

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Do we need another book on Marx? Many recently published books deal with Marx’s approach to history, to economics, to ecology and to the family in innovative and exciting ways. Having read this book, the answer is a definite yes.

We need books that present Marx and his ideas to new readers, and which remind all readers of the depth of the tradition in which we stand and its capacity to explain and contest the challenges we face.

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