Books

Denied the Pleasure of Life

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Review of 'Dreaming and Scheming', Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber £8.99

This collection by Hanif Kureishi is divided into two parts--'Politics' and 'Culture and Films'. The latter section records how Kureishi's films--'My Beautiful Laundrette', 'Sammy and Rosie Get Laid', 'My Son The Fanatic' and 'Intimacy'--got to the silver screen. Kureishi says that he wrote 'My Son The Fanatic' as a response to the 'fatwa' on Salman Rushdie after the publication of 'The Satanic Verses'. Most of the protests against it took place in the northern towns now stalked by the BNP.

Twilight of the Gods

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Review of 'Berlin: The Downfall', Antony Beevor, Penguin £25.00

Antony Beevor's new book, 'Berlin', is a follow up to his bestseller 'Stalingrad'. The book outlines the last apocalyptic months of Hitler's Reich. Germany was all but destroyed under the weight of the Red Army's attack on Berlin. Stalin threw over 2.5 million men, 41,000 guns and more than 6,000 tanks into the campaign to seize the German capital.

Marx Goes to the Market

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Review of 'Marx's Revenge', Meghnad Desai, Verso £19

This book is a testimony to the intellectual capitulation of a section of the left to neoliberalism. Meghnad (now Lord) Desai was once sympathetic to Marxism. Now he is an admirer of globalisation. This book is a sustained defence of capitalism against the global anti-capitalist movement.

Sizing Up the Opposition

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Review of 'Stupid White Men', Michael Moore, Harper Collins £18.99

This book almost didn't make the shops. It was being printed when the planes crashed into the World Trade Centre. Any criticism of the US and the people who run it, the 'stupid white men' like Bush and Cheney, was deemed unpatriotic and unacceptable. So the publisher, Harper Collins (which is owned by Murdoch), refused to release the books for sale and at one point said it was going to pulp the 50,000 copies that had been printed.

A People's History

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Review of 'Communist Lives', eds. John McIlroy, Kevin Morgan, Alan Campbell, Lawrence and Wishart £19.99

At a time when biography is expanding greatly in the book world, the near absence of biographies of Communist leaders in Britain is noticeable. The purpose of this book is to redress the balance--different authors have written the biographies of leading Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) figures around the first half of the last century. The different authors of the biographies seek to show that even within the tight confines of the monolithic party the individual loyal Communists proved to be different from one another in many ways.

Stars in their Eyes

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Review of 'Cosmology', Peter Coles, Oxford £5.99

This pocket size book starts with a history of how humanity came to terms with the universe and its creation, and then seeks to explain the modern understanding. On its way it covers Einstein's theories of relativity, how we know the age and size of the universe, the process of the Big Bang, and how the matter we see around us was created. In the latter stages it describes the structure of the cosmos in terms of galaxies and clusters, and ponders on matters such as whether a grand unified theory of everything can be created.

Watching the Detective

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Review of 'The Angst-Ridden Executive', Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Serpent's Tail £6.99

One of Europe's best known writers, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán was born in Barcelona in 1939, the year of Franco's civil war victory. He became an underground activist when he was a 20 year old student. Arrested in 1962, he was beaten up by the notorious torturer, police inspector Vicente Creix, and spent 18 months for political offences in Lérida jail. Throughout his successful literary career he has remained faithful to the PSUC, the Catalan Communist Party, which he joined while in prison.

Rehabilitating the Truth

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Review of 'Vietnam and Other American Fantasies', H Bruce Franklin, University of Massachusetts Press £15.95

Over the Xmas of 1972, with an agreement between North Vietnam and the US imminent, Richard Nixon ordered an all-out aerial assault on the North, with B-52s flying over 700 sorties in 12 days. The response to this stepping up of the war was a strike by those working at the secret 6990th air force security service base on Okinawa. The strikers cheered every time news came through that a B-52 had been shot down. At the same time four aircraft carriers, Ranger, Forrestal, Coral Sea and Kitty Hawk, were incapacitated by sabotage and mutiny, unable to play their part in the bombardment.

Ripe for Revolt

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Review of 'Against Global Apartheid', Patrick Bond, University of Cape Town Press £14.99

In 1995 after Chad, a country in West Africa, had been destroyed by war, an IMF official commented that at last there was an environment that they could work with. Structural adjustment and neoliberalism could proceed unhindered, as the country was now 'ripe for the development of a free market economy'.

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