Books

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.

You Will Be Safe Here

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You Will Be Safe Here leaps from South Africa in 1901 to South Africa in 2014. The story of the country in 1901 covers the concentration camps that the British set up to imprison South Africans during the Boer War. The story described in 2014 covers the life of “difficult boys” sent to training camps with the ultimate aim of educating them.

Red Round Globe Hot Burning

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Peter Linebaugh has produced another masterful history “from below”. This author is no respecter of national borders. This is a history of the struggle for commons over the centuries, both intellectually and geographically. It ranges from 18th century Ireland, across the Atlantic Ocean, itself the pathway of the fluid trade in human bodies from which capitalism emerged, to the slave uprising in San Domingue, now Haiti.

Learning from the Germans: Confronting Race and the Memory of Evil

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This is a book about making amends. In particular, it is about the way that modern Germany has come to view, and deal with, the legacy of the Holocaust. The author is a Jewish American, originally from the south, who has lived for a long time in Berlin. The main focus of the work is on how the German example can be used to help the US, and in particular the southern states, to atone for the historical crime of slavery.

Firefighting: The Financial Crisis and its Lessons

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During the Banking Crash of 2008/9, Firefighting’s authors, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner and “Hank” Paulson, headed up the US Federal Reserve Board, the NY Federal Reserve Bank and the Whitehouse Treasury Department.

In the face of a constant barrage from the right wing of the Republican Party, these three were central in avoiding catastrophic meltdown of the global banking system. So, Firefighting’s claim to be “authoritative” is strong — if this word has a pejorative sense.

Peterloo: The English Uprising

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The 16 August 2019 marked the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, where at least 18 people were killed by the military and 700 injured when some 80,000 people marched considerable distances to St Peter’s Field, Manchester to protest for parliamentary reform.

Mike Leigh’s film Peterloo has recently brought this to public attention. Leigh was outraged that a massacre of peaceful protesters had been effectively written out of English history. Leigh acknowledges the contribution that Robert Poole made to inform his work.

Vital Signs: The Deadly Costs of Health Inequality

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Why is it that, the world over, people’s health is so poor, despite large amounts of money being spent on healthcare, and in every country large differences remain between the health of the rich and of the poor? This big question is tackled comprehensively in this short book that ranges over a number of themes relating to health and healthcare.

Navigating the Zeitgeist

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One important point to make about Helena Sheehan’s political odyssey — from a conservative Catholic upbringing through the radicalism of the US left in the 1960s and early 70s, on to Official Sinn Fein and the Communist Party of Ireland, and then into the Irish Labour Party — is that it demonstrates with crystal clarity the importance of the theory of state capitalism for revolutionary politics.

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