Reviews

Through the Maze

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Review of 'Carrying the Elephant', Michael Rosen, Penguin £7.99

We spent the afternoon in the park. He ran around like a loon playing French cricket with the girls and ate too many peanuts. In the evening we had cold meat and salad, and then went to bed. A couple of hours later he called out my name and I knew he was dying. Then the doctors said he was dying. Then they operated and he didn't wake up. Two days later I came home and saw his plate where he had left it. On it were two curled slices of salami he'd rejected. That was when the grief hit.

A Balance Sheet That Doesn't Add Up

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Review of 'Revolution in the Air', Max Elbaum, Verso £20

By the end of 1970, in the wake of Nixon's invasion of Cambodia and the resulting explosion of anti-war activism across US campuses, the 'New York Times' reported a survey stating that 3 million college students thought a revolution was necessary in the United States. Out of this radical milieu a smaller but nonetheless significant layer of activists set out to actively build new revolutionary organisations.

Hawks and Doves Unite

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Review of 'Israel/Palestine', Tanya Reinhart, Seven Stories £7.99

Tanya Reinhart is a linguistics scholar who turned to political writing after the deception of the Palestinian people over the so called peace negotiations of Oslo. Reinhart has been a consistent political activist. She has produced a concise but detailed and accessible analysis of the machinations of the Israeli state. This book debunks myth after myth concerning the Camp David negotiations with a series of illuminating quotes from Israeli military and government officials shedding further light on Israel's true intentions.

Mississippi Murder

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Review of 'The Little Friend', Donna Tart, Bloomsbury £16.99

From the gripping opening page of Donna Tartt's new novel, you know you are on unfamiliar ground. The book is set in the American Deep South--home to poisonous snakes and redneck preachers, a place of sweltering heat and exotic plants.

The book begins with the shocking murder of a much loved nine year old boy, Robin. The story then jumps forwards a few years and describes the impact of the murder on Robin's relatives--his eccentric aunts, his devastated mum Charlotte and his sisters Harriet and Allison.

The Bishops and the Brickies

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Review of 'The Communist Party of Great Britain since 1920', James Eaden and David Renton, Palgrave £40

Why should we be interested in the history of a party which dissolved itself 11 years ago, shrouded among accusations of reformism, spying for the USSR and trousering the infamous 'Moscow Gold'? The most obvious reason is that the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) certainly 'punched far above its weight'.

Winning the Obstacle Race

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Review of 'Fences and Windows', Naomi Klein, Flamingo £8.99

Naomi Klein is a brilliant witness to the rise of the anti-capitalist movement. Her style is spare but atmospheric and thought-provoking at the same time. She remembers significant detail to convey the potency of the protests. 'These protests,' she writes, 'are like stepping into a parallel universe... Corporate logos need armed guards, people usurp cars, art is everywhere, strangers talk to each other, and the prospect of a radical change in political course does not seem like an odd and anachronistic idea but the most logical thought in the world.'

Daring But Divided

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Review of 'The Resistible Rise of Benito Mussolini', Tom Behan, Bookmarks £8

The battles against Italian fascism in 1921-22 erupted as spontaneous self defence against the terror tactics of Mussolini's squads. Many of the left at the time dismissed these brave struggles. The reformist Socialist Party preferred to think that they could beat Mussolini at his own parliamentary game and paid for their error dearly. The new Italian Communist Party (PCI), instead of jumping in feet-first where workers resisted fascism, stood on the sidelines finding errors with those who fought back. The cost of failing to join the struggle on the streets was the victory of fascism.

A World They Have Lost

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Review of 'In Search of Fatima', Ghada Karmi, Verso £16

Edward Said has described Ghada Karmi's memoir as a 'novelist's envy'. Praise indeed and well deserved. Ghada will be well known to many readers of this magazine as one of the most prominent representatives of Palestine in Britain, a regular in TV and radio studios, as well as a staunch supporter of the Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

Mersey Memories

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Review of 'A Different World', Liverpool Women's History Group, Bluecoat Press £7.99

This book, beautifully produced, is a collection of memories of Liverpool in the 1930s and 1940s. They are recalled by a group of 15 older women, three of whom are octogenarians, others in their mid to late seventies and the youngsters who are between 50 and 60 years old.

Life of the Struggle

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Review of 'Free at Last!', Tony Benn, Hutchinson £25

Tony Benn is equally loyal to socialism and the Labour Party. The latest edition of his diaries, covering the last decade, describes a period when the rightward gallop of Labour brought those two loyalties into greater conflict. The decay of Westminster politics is so great, Benn jokes, leaving parliament leaves him 'free at last' to be involved in politics.

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