Books

The James Connolly Reader

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The legacy of James Connolly, Ireland’s pre-eminent Marxist revolutionary, has been appropriated and sanitised by every political tradition including the Irish state to such an extent that his historical role has often been obscured. Shaun Harkin’s selection of Connolly’s writing shines a penetrating light through this fog and allows him to speak for himself.

A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism

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Paul Hanebrink’s tremendous book could not be more timely. As he points out, we are in the middle of a “surge in political activity on the far-right in Europe and North America”. At Charlottesville there were neo-Nazis shouting the slogan “The Jews Will Not Replace Us”.

These are dangerous times and we need to know as much about the history and politics of the far-right as we can. Hanebrink’s book is a challenging and important contribution helping to develop that understanding.

The Battle of Brick Lane 1978

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The Battle of Brick Lane 1978 by AK Azad Konor tells the story of how a community was galvanised by the murder of a young Bangladeshi textile worker, Altab Ali, in a Whitechapel park in east London.

Azad Konor, Rafique Ulah and others formed the Bangladeshi Youth Front (BYF) in response to the National Front (NF), who had moved its headquarters to the heart of the Bangladeshi community and were selling their papers on Brick Lane.

No Turning Back

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Rania Abouzeid represents that new generation of Arab, in this case Lebanese, journalists who in the years before the 2011 revolutions learned to view the region with a hard eye. They were unmoved by political rhetoric and unconvinced by fantastical conspiracy theories.

They learned to trust what they saw, the ordinary people they spoke to, and that sense that the truth is always concrete, even if it is not what you want to hear.

Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?

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This book is written as a wake up call for the American ruling class. “If democracy cannot harness capitalism it runs the risk of subverting itself and giving way to neo-fascist regimes that will pretend to manage the market but more often ally themselves with corporations and substitute ultra-nationalist symbols and scapegoats for reforms.”

How to Read Donald Duck

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Written in Chile in 1971 by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic has had a troubled existence. Copies were burnt in Chile following 11 September 1973, when the Popular Unity government led by Salvador Allende was overthrown.

When translated only 1,500 copies of the 4,000 published were allowed into the US. It is only now that an American publisher has dared to reprint it in the country.

Mistaken Identity

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How did identity politics go from being part of a wider radical movement for change to becoming a tool for establishment politicians to undermine the left? If identity politics doesn’t move us towards genuine liberation, what sort of politics do we need? These are the central questions that Asad Haider asks in this thoughtful and thought-provoking book about race, class and the limitations of identity-based politics.

A World to Win

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The bicentenary of Karl Marx’s birth has been commemorated in various ways this year and this colossal new biography by Swedish academic Sven-Eric Liedman is the latest addition to the Marx bibliography.

At over 600 pages, Liedman’s book aims “to present Marx’s work in all its breadth”, giving equal weight to both his life and his work. Everything from Marx’s university thesis and love letters to Jenny Von Westphalen to unpublished responses intended for Russian revolutionary Vera Zasulich are considered worthy of evaluation alongside The Communist Manifesto and Capital.

You're Not Here

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Tariq Mehmood, author of this novel for young adults, was one of the Bradford 12. Arrested in 1981 when Asian youth took to the streets to confront the threat of organised racist attacks on their community, they were charged with making petrol bombs. All 12 were acquitted in a landmark 1982 trial on the grounds of the right to self-defence. “Self-Defence is No Offence” was the slogan of the campaign to free them.

Natives

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Akala has already revealed to the world that the Wu-Tang Clan’s lyrics can rival Shakespeare’s. He has also helped restore the weight and significance of African contributions to human history in his Oxford Union speech and his freestyle sessions on the BBC.

In his first book, Natives, Akala now takes on the British Empire and tears down the myths of greatness that surround it. One of these myths, he tells us in chapter five, is that William Wilberforce ended slavery.

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