Books

Mapping the Divide

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Review of 'The Global Media Atlas', Mark Balnaves, James Donald and Stephanie Hemelryk Donald, BFI Publishing £14.99

I love maps, and this well presented paperback provides 50 maps with a difference--they break down the world into the haves and have-nots in the global communications revolution that has swept the world in the last ten years.

Anger and Optimism

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Review of 'Ten Reasons to Abolish the IMF and World Bank', Kevin Danaher, Seven Stories Press £4.99

Kevin Danaher personifies the most exciting features of the movement against capitalism--he's angry and he's optimistic. 'We abolished slavery, we abolished Jim Crow laws, we abolished child labour, we abolished the exclusion of women from voting, we abolished the 60-hour work week, and we can abolish international banking institutions that do more to prevent democracy than to promote it,' he declares in 'Ten Reasons to Abolish the IMF and World Bank'.

Digging at the Roots of Dissent

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Review of 'Italy and its Discontents', Paul Ginsberg, Penguin £25.00

Last year a lot more happened in Italy than demonstrations in Genoa. In May the Blairite DS party lost power to Berlusconi. The party then split over what to do about the Genoa protests. Then the leadership supported the war in Afghanistan and the party squabbled some more. In the party's brief life it has only suffered from 'exitism', not entrism.

Permanent Debate

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Review of 'Trotsky and the Origins of Trotskyism', Alfred Rosmer, Francis Bootle £10

There is now a vast amount of literature on the subject of this book. First and foremost there are Trotsky's own brilliant and voluminous writings, then Isaac Deutscher's mighty 'Prophet' trilogy, Tony Cliff's four-volume political study, works by Victor Serge and Natalia Trotsky, Pierre Broué, Ernest Mandel, Duncan Hallas and many lesser figures.

The Sky is No Longer the Limit

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Review of 'Full Spectrum Absurdity', ed. Ken Coates, Spokesman Books £5 and 'The Last Frontier', ed. Ken Coates, Spokesman Books £5

Socialists by their very nature are internationalists and care about peace and social justice worldwide. These two booklets (part of a regular series from Spokesman for the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation) give lively commentaries and background to current issues in collections of short essays.

Pressing for Reform

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Review of 'Voices of Revolution', Rodger Streitmatter, Columbia University Press £13.50

As the radical journalist Upton Sinclair once noted, the establishment newspapers generally do not challenge the status quo, but rather construct a 'concrete wall between the public and alternative thinking'. Hence the need for the dissident press whose primary purpose is to effect social change.

Moved by Justice

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Review of 'Josephine Butler', Jane Jordan, John Murray £22.50

Jane Jordan's biography of Josephine Butler exposes the brutality of women's oppression at the height of British capitalism. In particular, our attention is turned to the treatment of working class women under the Contagious Diseases Acts passed in the second half of the 19th century. Jordan shows the 20-year struggle it took to finally defeat these vicious acts and celebrates the life of its determined leader.

Going Back to His Roots

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Review of 'The Gatekeeper', Terry Eagleton, Allan Lane £9.99

Prince Charles once dubbed him 'that dreadful Terry Eagleton'. It's not often a royal is so indelicately forthcoming about a former professor at Oxford University but, then again, this one's no hoary old academic. He is, of all things, a revolutionary Marxist who, as these short memoirs reveal, has mixed his time as an Oxford don and Britain's foremost literary theorist with stints selling socialist newspapers in the street and leafleting workers at the local car plant.

Civilised Behaviour?

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Review of 'British Counter-Insurgency', John Newsinger, Palgrave £45

The major impression one is left with after reading this book is the utter brutality of British imperial government policy towards subjugated people who threaten its interests anywhere in the world--and that applies equally to Tory or Labour governments.

It Remains to Conquer All

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Review of 'Reflections', Edward W Said, Granta £20

Exile, in the words of Wallace Stevens, is 'a mind of winter', in which 'the pathos of summer and autumn as much as the potential of spring are nearby but unobtainable'. Edward Said reflects on his and the Palestinians' political condition, in one of a wide range of subjects and styles of essays in this collection.

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