Obituaries

Obituary: Iain Banks

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Patrick Ward, who interviewed author Iain Banks for Socialist Review in 2008, looks at his life and work

Iain Banks, who died last month at the age of 59, was a towering figure in both mainstream and science fiction. His 27-book legacy provides a mixture of both genres (occasionally within one book) and is run through with a ribbon of hope for a better world.

Obituary: Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)

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The death of Chinua Achebe leads Ayodele Jabbar to recall the legacy of literature he left behind

Chinua Achebe, the great pioneer of African writing, died age 82 on 21 March in Boston. Achebe was born Albert Chinualumogu to Christian convert parents in the traditional Igbo village of Ogidi in eastern Nigeria. He always believed this environment fostered his talent for storytelling - as a Christian living among non-Christian relatives and imbibed with traditional Igbo stories from a young age.

Obituary: Oscar Niemeyer

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Architect (1907-2012)

"What is it you guys want?" an FBI interrogator once asked the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, in exile from a US-backed military coup in his home country. "To change society," he replied. "Now that's going to be difficult", was their retort. Niemeyer, who died this month at the age of 104, was one of the last architects who did want to change society, and it did indeed prove to be very difficult.

Obituary: Hans Werner Henze (1928 - 2012)

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It is not often that a classical music concert triggers a riot and ends with the theatre being invaded by riot police.

But that's what happened on the opening night of Henze's oratorio Das Floss der Medusa (The Raft of the Medusa) in Hamburg on 9 December 1968. The event, which he was at, confirmed Henze's dim view of his country and cemented his political radicalisation. His recent death at the age of 86 is a sad loss.

Obituary: Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012)

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When he died last month, Eric Hobsbawm left behind a superb body of work explaining and criticising the development of capitalism - but his Stalinist-influenced politics nonetheless affected his history. Paul Blackledge looks back at the complex life of this important Marxist historian

Eric Hobsbawm, who died last month, was the last, and arguably the greatest, of an incredibly influential generation of British Marxist historians who cut their teeth in the Communist Party Historians' Group (CPHG) after the Second World War. This group, which included Christopher Hill, Rodney Hilton, Victor Kiernan, George Rudé, Raphael Samuel, John Saville, and Dorothy and EP Thompson, was an intellectual powerhouse whose members went on to make a frankly stunning collective contribution to the study of history.

Richard Hamilton, 1922-2011

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Richard Hamilton, who died last month, was one of the most important British artists of the 20th century. His work could be deeply subversive, was of great influence and was instrumental in changing both how we view and make art. He helped to revolutionise and democratise art in this country.

His work essentially covers the period of the post Second World War boom to the living nightmare of today's neoliberal global economy.

Joe Bageant (1946-2011) Redneck revolutionary

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It was difficult not to take an instant liking to Joe Bageant.

Soon after Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential elections, Socialist Review called him up for his opinion on the matter: "I always say that if Obama was delivered to the White House with Jesus Christ, a five-piece band and six gilded seraphims holding up his fucking balls he still won't be able to do anything because the country's broke and Congress is bought and sold."

It was with that one long, angry sentence, I became an admirer of this "redneck revolutionary".

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