Books

The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: the Worker, the Factory and the Future of the World Dexter Roberts St. Martin’s Press £18

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The “myth” of this book’s title is that Chinese capitalism offers a model for other developing countries. In a wide-ranging study, Dexter Roberts sets out to show that it is unsustainable. At the same time he is clearly sympathetic to the plight of China’s millions of migrant workers - the work is dedicated to them - who leave their country homes to seek jobs in the booming coastal cities. This means the book is a slightly uneasy mixture of first-hand reporting of these peoples’ lives and background from secondary sources, many business oriented.

How Trump Stole 2020 Greg Palast with illustrations by Ted Rall Seven Stories Press £13.99

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In November 2018, 92 year old Christine Jordan, a cousin of Martin Luther King and herself a veteran civil rights campaigner, went to in the election vote for Governor of Georgia. She went to the same polling station she had voted in since 1968, but ‘this time…they threw her out…they had no record of her’. She was not alone. Tens of thousands of would-be voters were turned away. How did this happen? Greg Palast has, among other things, been investigating voter fraud in the US for the past twenty years.

The Pink Line: The World’s Queer Frontiers Mark Gevisser Profile Books £25

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In The Pink Line South African journalist and filmmaker Mark Gevisser presents a perceptive and comprehensive picture of the international fight for LGBT+ rights in the twenty first century. Gevisser meticulously and sympathetically charts the harsh realities of life for many LGBT+ people as he follows their struggles with families, police and public hostility. His research took him to 21 countries, striking up relationships over a number of years with a range of activists.

The War Against Disabled People, by Ellen Clifford DPAC campaigners protest against Atos Picture: Pete Riches Zed Books, 2020

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This is a thoroughly researched account of the history of welfare reform and its devastating impact on the lives of disabled people’s in Britain. It’s a powerful indictment of the governments responsible and a welcome tribute to the new movement that has fought back. Ellen Clifford is a prominent activist with the coalition Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). The war of the title refers to the brutal process of welfare reform, which began with plans under New Labour governments to get a million people off benefits and into work.

Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West, Catherine Belton William Collins £25

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Catherine Belton’s rigorously researched account of the rise of the Russian elite provides a rare glimpse into the activities of Putin’s inner circle. Such workings are often shrouded in mystery, behind the closed doors of the Kremlin. Belton presents us with a rare gift, an in-depth account of how the inner circle has consolidated its hold on Russia’s political system and the country’s vast resources to turn it into their own cash cow.

Sinews of War, Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula Laleh Khalili Verso £20

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Laleh Khalili, professor of International Politics at Queen Mary University in London, has carried out a wide-ranging study of the networks of trade in the Arabian Peninsula. Her research included travelling on huge container ships following sometimes dangerous routes. Khalili’s fascination with all things maritime is palpable. In chapters on routemaking, harbour-making, landside and shipboard labour and the bounties of war she demonstrates the close links between maritime trade and the major oil companies.

The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and the Ecological Rift John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark Monthly Review Press £25

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The Robbery of Nature draws on and develops the theories of Marx and Engels to understand why capitalism has such a destructive influence on the natural world. Central to Fosters and Clark’s argument is that, under capitalism, human beings and the natural environment are the original sources of wealth, but it is only the labour of workers that generates value. Workers are exploited in that they sell their labour power to produce goods and services and receive wages that represent less than the value of what they produce.

The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine; Rashid Khalidi

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For a century, Palestine has suffered through colonial rule, territorial conquest, occupation after occupation and an apartheid regime oppressing Palestinians in their land. The 100 Years’ War on Palestine explores this complex history, with Rashid Khalidi delving deep into the painful and heart-rendering timeline of how Palestine came to be the occupied land it is today. With sharp detail surrounding the many declarations of war and mandates set out to conquer and control Palestinians, he reveals the beauty of their continual resistance.

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.

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