Books

Queer City

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Fans of Peter Ackroyd’s visceral histories will welcome this enthralling and compassionate exposé of LGBT+ life across 15 centuries in the UK capital. The book starts with the open homoeroticism of the ancient Romans, mining original sources previously expurgated of their “queer” content by nervous commentators.

The Leeds Convention of 1917

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The February Revolution in Russia in 1917 was received enthusiastically by the British working class movement. Within weeks there were massive meetings held across Britain to celebrate the revolution.

The Labour Party, having supported the First World War uncritically since its outbreak in 1914, saw the Russian Provisional Government as an opportunity to reinvigorate the Russian war effort. Meanwhile the left wing of Labour saw in the revolution the hope for the end of the war.

October

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What’s not to love about the most exciting and inspiring story of modern history being retold by one of the most exciting and inspiring writers of the day?

China Miéville’s account of the nine pivotal months of the Russian Revolution is based on extensive research. Every detail he includes is reported by people who were there. When this accuracy is united with his dazzling verbal dexterity, the intoxicating events of these days that shook the world are totally brought to life.

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.

On Antisemitism

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“The truth is that everyone who organises for justice in Palestine must wrestle with antisemitism, either because a false accusation is being lobbed at them, or because of a need to be vigilant to ensure that the critique of the Jewish state does not become a blanket criticism of the Jewish people”, explains Rabbi Alissa Wise, one of the contributors in this collection of essays curated by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

Students in San Francisco set up JVP in 1996. It grew rapidly in response to the war on Gaza in 2014. Today JVP has over 10,000 members across the US.

The President's Gardens

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On the third day of Ramadan 2006, nine decapitated heads are delivered in banana boxes to an Iraqi village. One of the heads belongs to Ibrahim, a quiet, gentle, humble soul. The President’s Gardens unravels through a story involving three generations under the backdrop of the invasion of Kuwait, the first Gulf War and the lead up to the US invasion.

The book intertwines the life-long friendship between Ibrahim the Fated, Abdullah Katfa and Tariq the Befuddle known collectively as the sons of the earth crack.

Bob Crow

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Reading this book is like skiing down a mountain. There’s the grand panoramas and promise of exhilaration ahead. It feels rewarding but as you approach the bottom the going gets tougher as the slope levels out, where the quality and depth of the snow diminish. The completion brings its own final flourish.

Gall’s biography starts by outlining his method and setting out the personal and political context through which Crow came to trade unionism and politics. This made the first few chapters the strongest.

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