Reviews

No Big Ideas Need Apply

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Review of 'One No, Many Yeses', Paul Kingsnorth, The Free Press £10

This is an exploration and a celebration of the anti-capitalist movement or, as Kingsnorth prefers to call it, simply 'the movement'. It is based on a tour through some of the iconic locations and events, from the Chiapas heartland of the Zapatistas to the smoke-filled streets of Genoa in July 2001.

A Matter of State

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Review of 'Class Theory and History', Stephen A Resnick and Richard D Wolff, Routledge £16.99

Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff, two American sociologists, set out to explain in this book the nature of Soviet society. Their argument is that the USSR was 'state capitalist', by which they mean that the economic rules of that society were no different from those of the established class societies of America and the west. Such an argument is timely and important, but not entirely new.

Migrating Across the Waves

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Review of 'Welcome to Paradise', Mahi Binebine, Granta £12.99 and 'The Broken Cedar', Martin Malone, Scribner £12.99

Both these new novels are about faraway people. 'Welcome to Paradise' is about North African would-be emigrants waiting through the night on a Moroccan beach for the moment their trafficker decides it is safe to cross the Straits of Gibraltar. 'The Broken Cedar' is about the effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on everyday Lebanese life in 1994, before the Israelis leave Lebanon, and an act of horrifying violence this gives rise to in the past of Khalil, who is an electrical shopkeeper catering to the needs of United Nations troops on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Our Friends in the North

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Review of 'Born under Punches', Martyn Waites, Simon & Schuster £10.99

1984: Coldwell, a fictional north east mining town, is under siege by the police. Stephen Larkin, a passionate young journalist, wants to expose the truth about the miners' strike--what's at stake for Coldwell and the country, and what Thatcher and the police are prepared to do to win.

Trading on Tragedy

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Review of 'Fallout', Juan Gonzalez, Verso £10.95

When the World Trade Centre collapsed, the pulverised remains formed a torrential dust cloud that rapidly dispersed into the atmosphere over Manhattan. But this was no ordinary dust. It contained many highly toxic substances. This book, by New York journalist Juan Gonzalez, is a shocking account of the failure of the authorities to safeguard the health of the residents and workers of Manhattan and the rescue workers who toiled in the disaster zone.

In Backalleys and Palaces Alike

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Review of 'The Land Where the Blues Began', Alan Lomax, The New Press £19.95

The blues of the Mississippi Delta, together with its close neighbour, gospel music, has been at the heart of western popular music for the last 70 years, and the well shows no signs of running dry. From the 1930s swing bands, through rock and roll, soul and on to rap and house music, black American rhythms and sensibilities have provided much of the soundtracks of our lives. Alan Lomax's indispensable book provides one of the best accounts of the richness and diversity of that tradition.

Start Worrying and Loathe the Bomb

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Review of 'The New Nuclear Danger', Helen Caldicott, The New Press £10.95

While the war on Iraq focused attention on conventional weapons, the US continues to develop its Star Wars programme. With the 'war on terror' replacing the Cold War, it might seem logical that nuclear weapons would lose some of their strategic importance. But George W Bush's recent hike in the US military budget did not neglect nuclear projects.

Dying for a Smoke

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Review of 'Cigarettes', Tara Parker-Pope, The New Press £9.95

I'll tell you why I like the cigarette business. It costs a penny to make. Sell it for a dollar. It's addictive. And there's fantastic brand loyalty.'

So said investment tycoon Warren Buffet. With damages payouts against tobacco companies now becoming commonplace, it is easy to forget that until nine years ago the companies making up the huge US tobacco industry, intensely competitive as they are, were united on one important point--they all insisted categorically that nicotine was not addictive and that the link between smoking and cancer was unproven.

Progressing Ever Upward

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Review of 'A Renegade in Springtime', Edward Upward, Enitharmon £15

Edward Upward, now approaching his 100th birthday, is the last of the 1930s generation of British left wing writers. This selection of short stories spans his entire output from the late 1920s to the 21st century.

The novelist Christopher Isherwood and the poets W H Auden and Stephen Spender are generally well known. Their work has often been taken to define the literature of the 'red decade'--that period when the triumph of fascism in Germany and the Spanish Civil War politicised a generation of writers who had come to maturity after the First World War.

Empiricist Against Imperialists

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Review of 'Power and Terror', Noam Chomsky, Seven Stories Press £7.99 and 'American Power and the New Mandarins', Noam Chomsky, The New Press £12.95

The publication of Chomsky's latest book, 'Power and Terror', and a new edition of his first major political work on the Vietnam War, 'American Power and the New Mandarins', could not be more timely. They span his remarkable 36 years as the US's foremost intellectual and anti-imperialist champion. During that time he has written extensively about all the major US imperialist adventures and has demonstrated an admirable level of consistency in his principled opposition to them.

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