Reviews

Crashing the Party

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In seeking to be Democratic Party Presidential Candidate for 2016, Bernie Sanders attempted to inject “democratic socialism” into American politics. His campaign concentrated on the massive economic inequalities that riddle all areas of US society. This book, written by a researcher and organiser on his campaign, seeks to describe how his outsider radicalism crashed and nearly derailed the neoliberal, free market campaign of the Democrat establishment, epitomised by Hillary Clinton.

Striking to Survive

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This is an important and timely book. During the summer over 50 student activists were detained for supporting Shenzhen Jasic workers who had been dismissed for setting up an independent trade union.

Despite the lack of independent trade unions China has more strikes than any other country in the world. Fan Shigang uses oral histories of people involved in a 24 day strike in the Pearl Delta River (PDR) to show the determination of the workers and the tactics the bosses will use to win — from police harassment to mass arrests and hired thugs.

City of Segregation

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The poisonous link between housing and racism in the US has received some welcome and overdue attention lately. Richard Rothstein’s book The Color of Law and George Clooney’s film Suburbicon each expose how black people have been deliberately excluded from “white areas”. City of Segregation shows how the legacy endures, 50 years after the US Fair Housing Act sought to end housing discrimination.

George Orwell Illustrated

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The great bulk of this book is a reprint of the 1984 publication Orwell for Beginners. I must confess I never read it at the time and only now appreciate what a great book I missed out on. It was an outstanding introduction of George Orwell’s politics that has certainly stood the test of time, and the artwork is tremendous. The reprint is accompanied by a 60-plus page update entitled “Planet Orwell”.

You Are Always With Me: Letters To Mama

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Frida Kahlo was a prolific letter writer. At 16 she began writing letters to her mum, Matilde Calderon Kahlo. You Are Always With Me is a collection of some of these letters written by Frida, published for the first time in English.

The letters begin two years prior to Frida’s life-changing bus accident that left her bedridden for months at a time and in constant pain that she dulled with alcohol and pain killers.

“Pushkin’s radicalism tends to be denied”

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Lifelong socialist, trade union militant and anti-racist activist Jack Robertson talked to Socialist Review about his new book The Man Who Shook His Fist at the Tsar. It’s about the life of the great Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin, and his place in the tradition of Russian radicalism.

The majority of the book takes the form of a narrative history, looking at episodes in Pushkin’s biography and in Russian history, but you start with a new verse translation of Pushkin’s epic poem The Bronze Horseman. Why have you chosen to spotlight that?

The Battle of Brick Lane 1978

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The Battle of Brick Lane 1978 by AK Azad Konor tells the story of how a community was galvanised by the murder of a young Bangladeshi textile worker, Altab Ali, in a Whitechapel park in east London.

Azad Konor, Rafique Ulah and others formed the Bangladeshi Youth Front (BYF) in response to the National Front (NF), who had moved its headquarters to the heart of the Bangladeshi community and were selling their papers on Brick Lane.

Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?

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This book is written as a wake up call for the American ruling class. “If democracy cannot harness capitalism it runs the risk of subverting itself and giving way to neo-fascist regimes that will pretend to manage the market but more often ally themselves with corporations and substitute ultra-nationalist symbols and scapegoats for reforms.”

A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism

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Paul Hanebrink’s tremendous book could not be more timely. As he points out, we are in the middle of a “surge in political activity on the far-right in Europe and North America”. At Charlottesville there were neo-Nazis shouting the slogan “The Jews Will Not Replace Us”.

These are dangerous times and we need to know as much about the history and politics of the far-right as we can. Hanebrink’s book is a challenging and important contribution helping to develop that understanding.

No Turning Back

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Rania Abouzeid represents that new generation of Arab, in this case Lebanese, journalists who in the years before the 2011 revolutions learned to view the region with a hard eye. They were unmoved by political rhetoric and unconvinced by fantastical conspiracy theories.

They learned to trust what they saw, the ordinary people they spoke to, and that sense that the truth is always concrete, even if it is not what you want to hear.

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