Books

Roses and Radicals

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For those younger readers who want to know about how women won the vote in the US this book is an ideal introduction.

Just like in the UK, the epic struggle to win the vote for women in the US took decades of protests and struggle. Zimet writes that the story has its origins in London at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention. Twenty four year old Elizabeth Cady Stanton boarded a ship with her new husband to take the 3,000 mile round sea trip to attend. She was a full time abolitionist.

Fire and Fury

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To say the release of this book caused a furore would be an understatement. Trump threatened to sue if it was published. The publishers responded by bringing forward the publication date, and the media the world over was fixated for a good 48 hours.

Reform, Revolution and Direct Action amongst British Miners

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This is a very long overdue book. It reveals a period of the most extraordinary militancy by the largest group of organised workers in Britain, a phenomenon which has largely been ignored. In 1919, as a revolutionary wave swept Europe, mass strikes gripped British coalfields waged against the coal owners, the government and the miners’ own national and regional union officials.

Martin Luther King

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Fifty years ago on 4 April 1968, Atlanta-born King was murdered. To commemorate this massive loss to anti-racists and revolutionaries Yuri Prasad correctly argues that it is essential to rescue King from the hagiographers.

Even Donald Trump cites King as an inspiration, but the new generation of activists who stand on King’s shoulders in the many fights for justice and equality today, including Black Lives Matter, face the same brutal police violence that protestors did in the 1960s.

The Balfour Declaration

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Bernard Regan has produced a timely and well researched analysis of the Balfour Declaration of November 1917. The declaration stated unequivocally the British government’s support for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. The qualification that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” was a view observed less in its implementation than in its negation.

A More Beautiful and Terrible History

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“Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama’s running so we all can fly.” Rap mogul Jay Z’s words reflected not just the “Yes we can!” optimism of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, but also the orthodox view of the Civil Rights Movement (CRM).

Most commentaries present us with a series of episodes which are celebrated as part of the glorious history of the United States.

If the Symptoms Persist

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Francis Combes lays out his ideological stall in the first poem, which stands alone, outside of the four sections that follow. In “No, the Earth is Not Round” he writes, “And the world goes haywire/ Because the earth isn’t round/ At least/ Not yet”.

Combes, who is based in France, is excoriating in his criticisms of capitalism and frequently sardonic. In “This World is Well Made” he mocks: “Yes, this world is well made:/ there are streets for beggars/ and palaces for bankers./ Everything is as it should be.”

A Party With Socialists in it

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With the Labour Party’s swelling membership amid continuing tensions between the Labour’s left and right wings, a book that addresses the fortunes of socialists in the party could not be more timely. Simon Hannah has provided a good summary of their rises and falls, going back to the creation of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in 1893, the formation of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) seven years later, through to the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and ensuing battles with the party’s right wing.

Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism

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This fascinating book builds on the work of Marxists such as John Bellamy Foster to argue that Karl Marx’s thought is central to understanding that humanity’s destruction of the planet is due to the capitalist mode of production. It is a further blow against the perception that Marx was a naive Promethean — someone who believed that simply increasing production will solve all humanity’s ills and that therefore Marxism has nothing to say about ecological crisis.

Brit(ish) On Race, Identity and Belonging

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Racism, as we know, is a long-contested debate, issue and argument that has morphed throughout the centuries in Britain. Hirsch, who is of mix-race heritage, uses this as a starting point to open up dialogue around the subject of identity, exploring themes of origins, bodies and class which are some of the main chapters in the book.

Discussing a variety of topics from dating, education and police brutality to the EU referendum and the rise in Islamophobia, she dissects her personal experiences, comparing them against official statistics and historical facts.

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