Books

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.

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.

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.

Maoism: A Global History

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Author Julia Lovell provides an overview of Maoism in China and all the countries in which it had or still has influence. The book includes a lot of detail on various Maoist movements around the world but offers only a superficial explanation for Mao Zedong’s rise and the spread of his ideas. It includes many entertaining anecdotes but it does not provide sufficient historical context.

The Politics of Operations

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This book starts well with a glib and intriguing introduction. We are invited to imagine a trip across the Argentinian Pampas, a journey that starts dreamily with visions of verdant fields of soya but ends jarringly with the realisation that this product: Intacta RR2 Pro is one of a new selection of transgenic seeds incurring violence and disruption to indigenous humans and plants by Monsanto.

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.

Second World, Second Sex

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Kristen Ghodsee documents the lost history of activism of women from Eastern bloc countries, specifically focussing on Bulgaria, within the United Nations Decade of Women 1975-1985. The links made by Eastern European activists with newly independent African nations challenged the hegemony of a Western or neoliberal capitalist vision of women’s emancipation. By sketching out this lost history Ghodsee attempts to draw conclusions about the legacy of “state socialism”, feminism and clash of ideologies during the Cold War.

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