Books

Champions of Equality

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

This is a welcome account of the development of LGBT+ rights within trade unions in Britain in the last 50 years. But Champions of Equality also insists on the necessity of linking the workers movement, the left and the struggle against oppression as the key to winning real gains and reforms in society today.

Peter Purton explains the shift in general social attitudes and the resulting political gains for LGBT+ people through a detailed analysis of how LGBT+ issues were first raised, organised around, and won within the union movement.

Global Social Work in a political context

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Unlike many academic books this is an easy and enjoyable read. In social work, too often books focus on the individual practice, with little about the context in which we intervene. Ferguson et al emphasise the political role of social work and the need to fight for radical approaches in a time ripe for radical politics.

The analysis in the first part of the book of the economic and ideological politics of neoliberalism sets the scene for understanding social work in a wider context than British shores.

The Rohingyas

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

The Muslim Rohingya people have lived in Rakhine state, Myanmar, for centuries. As a result of their persecution by the majority Buddhist Burman ethnic group, 300,000 Rohingya had crossed to Bangladesh and were living in refugee camps prior to the first publication of this book in 2016.

Yemen in Crisis

Issue section: 
Author: 

One morning last December I opened the newspaper to read that “today marks 1,000 days since the beginning of the war in Yemen, a country which is now suffering from the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”

By mid-2017 Yemen faced its worse famine since the 1940s and the world’s worst cholera epidemic. The war between Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels has claimed at least 10,000 lives. The former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh had switched sides before being killed and wider imperialist tensions drive the conflict.

The Skull of Alum Bheg

Issue section: 
Author: 

This is a remarkable work of historical detection. A skull found in a pub in Kent in 1963. A handwritten note inserted in an eye socket: “Skull of Haviladar Alum Bheg 46th Bengal N Infantry who was blown away from a gun. He was a principal leader of the mutiny of 1857 and of a most ruffianly disposition.”

Kim Wagner, who had been writing and researching colonial executions, is alerted to its existence and “found myself standing at a small train station on a wet November day with a human skull in my bag.”

1917: War, Peace and Revolution

Issue section: 

By 1917 all sides in the First World War were at a stalemate. The Battle of the Somme had already led to huge casualties on all sides. By January 1917, having lost a million men either killed, wounded or captured, France needed to end the war. Similarly, Russia was on its knees, with 4.5 million killed, wounded or sick, food shortages and inflation.

The Essential Fictions

Issue section: 
Author: 

For a man who died aged only 45, Isaac Babel had a prodigious output. He was born in 1894 into a reasonably well-off Jewish family in the port of Odessa, currently part of Ukraine but then in Russia. As a young man he was prevented from entering university, as Tsarist Russia placed quotas on the numbers of Jewish students allowed to enrol. Nonetheless the young Babel showed himself to be adept with words and languages, coming to the attention of writer Maxim Gorky in 1915.

Listening to a Pogrom on the Radio

Issue section: 

Michael Rosen’s latest collection of poetry for adults is wide ranging but at its heart displays a profound anti-racism and a fury at ruling class hypocrisy. In “Migration” he writes, “Our banks migrate billions/ but they don’t call that migration./ We say no to blaming migrants”.

For socialists who enjoy poetry this collection is an essential read for now, dealing as it does with some of our key political priorities including anti-racism, solidarity with refugees, Corbyn, privatisation and the attacks on education and the NHS.

So They call You Pisher!

Issue section: 
Author: 

Many years ago I read a book edited by Phil Cohen called Children of the Revolution; it was stories of people who had grown up with parents who were members of the Communist Party (CP) in the 1950s. I found it oddly depressing with the notable exception of the interview with Michael Rosen. He was one of the few contributors who had not lost faith in the ability to fight to make the world a better place.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Books