Books

The Violence of Austerity

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This is a collection of 24 short articles covering different, but interlinked, aspects of austerity. Perhaps the book’s most important contribution is to describe recent and current government policies as violent. As the articles show, in rich detail, this is metaphorically and literally true. Ken Loach referred to the “conscious cruelty” of the Tories. Cooper and Whyte show it goes beyond that. And then came Grenfell.

Protest: Stories of Resistance

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The question on the book’s jacket, “Whatever happened to British protest?” is silly, particularly given the 20 marvellous incidents it records. But don’t let that put you off a really good anthology about protest movements in the UK. Starting with the Peasants Revolt of 1381 and finishing with the anti-Iraq War demonstration of February 2003, a series of writers provide real colour to each protest or movement with often moving short stories.

Interview: A story of human liberation

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Writer and campaigner Alan Gibbons spoke to Socialist Review about his latest novel, Winds of October

Why did you decide to write a novel about the Russian Revolution?

In the run up to the one hundred years anniversary I fully expected that there would be a rash of books about the revolution. As it approached however it was clear that apart from China Mieville’s Book, October, the book by Dave Sherry and a book by Neil Faulkner there was very little coming out and no fiction so I very quickly wrote the first part of this trilogy in ten days followed by the second one and all being well I’ll write the final part.

Isaac and I: A Life In Poetry

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This is an autobiography of Chris Searle, who was inspired by poetry, especially by the East End (of London) poet Isaac Rosenberg. More than that, he inspired children, teenagers and working class men and women to write and recite them.

His secondary schooling didn’t start smoothly because he needed several attempts to get into grammar school. He was encouraged by his English teacher, whose choice of exciting class readers like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped and plays, including Shakespeare, “opened up the heart of language within me that I had to dive into!”

Fractured Continent

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This book examines the present state of Europe and its relationship with America at what the author sees as a crucial time for the world. His perception is that with the EU in possible danger of breaking up and Trump’s America retreating into “America First” isolationism threatening to tear up trade agreements and military treaties, the world is at a point where decisions will lead to either peace or calamity in the next century.

Urban Revolt

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Read this to be inspired by stories of city-based resistance in some of the most difficult conditions possible.

The editors want to confront the idea that capitalism is triumphant everywhere and instead look at examples where “the hegemony of ruling classes is being directly challenged by mass organisations”. Their examples range from Africa to Asia to Latin America.

Reading 'Capital' Today

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The editors of this collection describe reading Marx’s Capital as a political process and certainly Marx intended that his work would become a weapon in the hands of the working class. Reading ‘Capital’ Today does not obviously emerge from any political practice, but rather from readings by authors mostly better known for their academic contributions than their activism.

The End of Policing

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Alex Vitale condemns the politics of austerity for creating the circumstances in which heavy-handed policing becomes the accepted means of controlling a poor, marginalised majority in a system which exists to serve the 1%.

It surprised me how far the US police and criminal justice system have been militarised. Local forces hold extensive, state-funded, stores of military hardware and the training of officers is undertaken by private companies who routinely train foreign militia and the military.

Rock in a Hard Place

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Metal as a genre of contemporary music is still derided across the world, despite being one of the most commercially successful styles of popular music since its birth in the late 1960s.

Orlando Crowcroft details what this most demeaned style of music continues to mean to fans in six of the most war-ravaged and hostile countries: Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine, and Syria.

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