Reviews

The Romance of American Communism

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One of the great enigmas of working class history is how it was that so many fine working class militants, men and women, embraced Stalinism and either refused to believe in or actually helped cover up its crimes.

They happily followed political strategies dictated by Moscow and aimed to further Soviet foreign policy rather than the class struggle.

Who the Hell is Karl Marx? And What Are His Theories All About?

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Do we need another book on Marx? Many recently published books deal with Marx’s approach to history, to economics, to ecology and to the family in innovative and exciting ways. Having read this book, the answer is a definite yes.

We need books that present Marx and his ideas to new readers, and which remind all readers of the depth of the tradition in which we stand and its capacity to explain and contest the challenges we face.

Civilization Critical: Energy, Food, Nature and the Future

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Darrin Qualman was the primary researcher and writer for the National Farmers Union, a Canadian organisation of farm families promoting environmentally safe farming practices, until 2010. His work focused on food, agriculture, energy, climate change, the environment, the economy and trade.

His book offers a complex analysis of civilisation today, focusing on our energy, food and material flows. His analysis of past civilisations demonstrates the environmental impacts produced by the power sources fuelling them.

The Lost Decade, 2000-2010, and What Lies Ahead for Britain

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Welcome to Polly Toynbee’s unremittingly grey Britain. Of course, there are very many elements of truth to the picture she and her co-author David Walker paint in this book about a decade of Tory rule, all of which will be familiar to readers of this magazine.

This is a compendium of reminders of just how much the Tories have lied, attacked the most vulnerable, overseen a huge rise in homelessness, poverty, inequality and rotten, badly paid jobs, used racism to divide and so on.

The mirror and the light

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The final book in Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about the sixteenth century statesman Thomas Cromwell has finally arrived. The success of the previous books—Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring Up The Bodies (2012)—made Mantel a superstar among authors and the publication of the final part of the story has been afforded the sort of saturation media coverage more usually associated with the likes of the Harry Potter franchise than with serious literature.

Not Working

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Government figures on the labour market are, on the face of it, perplexing for socialists. They show employment up and unemployment down, both apparently to ‘record’ levels. But this is in the shadow of an extremely weak post-recession recovery, when the picture shouldn’t be anything like as rosy.

Set the Night on Fire

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Set the Night on Fire is a major contribution to our understanding of the struggles taking place in Los Angeles during the 1960s.

It is a movement history, an 800-page chronicle of struggle encompassing everything from anti-nuclear campaigns to the battle for civil rights, emerging feminist and LBGT liberation and so much else besides.

Justice for Some

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Noura Erekat, an American-born Palestinian, human rights attorney and assistant professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University, has produced an accessible and important analysis of what has been and remains a deliberate strategy by the state of Israel to normalise its history of illegality in Palestine.

The Five

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Jack the Ripper’s murder of five “prostitutes” on the streets of London’s East End has spawned thousands of books, TV programmes and vile walking tours of sites where the five women were mutilated. Their question is always the same: who might have been the murderer?

Hallie Rubenhold’s book is an astonishing piece of historical detective work that finally asks, after 130 years, “who were the women?” They were Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly.

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