Reviews

A Better View than Buena Vista

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Review of 'Tropical Animal', Pedro Juan Gutierrez, Faber £7.99

'Filth, stink, disregard, neglect, everywhere you look. I do what I can to escape from this apocalypse. At least mentally and spiritually. My material, though, remains anchored amid the wreckage.' For some readers, the surprise will be that the human flotsam who populate Pedro Juan Gutierrez's novel live in Havana, Cuba. The fleeting sex in half-ruined buildings, overcrowded, noisy and competitive; the half-lit world of prostitutes, rent boys, petty thieves and peanut sellers are the setting of what Gutierrez calls his 'dirty realism'.

Peron's Perfidy

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Review of 'The Real Odessa', Uki Goñi, Granta £9.99

In the twilight of the Second World War hundreds of Nazis fled to Argentina. The fugitives included some of the vilest figures of the 20th century: the architect of the Holocaust Adolf Eichmann, Auschwitz's 'angel of death' Josef Mengele, Erich Priebke and Klaus Barbie.

Not So Gentle

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Review of 'Get Your War On', David Rees, Soft Skull £7.99

David Rees's clip art cartoon strips first appeared just a month after the attack on the Twin Towers. In this world US office workers phone each other to laugh at Operation Enduring Freedom, the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, corporate condolence adverts and hysteria over suspected terrorists. Nothing escapes their notice--Bush, Ashcroft, Cheney, Enron, Sharon and Palestine. All the political hypocrisy that makes us retch is skewered here.

Outcasts, Underdogs and Barbarians

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Review of 'What I Saw', Joseph Roth, Granta £14.99

This is a curious little book of 34 short essays that at first appears like a cross between an urban country diary from the 'Guardian', a latter-day Mayhew's London, or Orwell's classic 'Down and Out in Paris and London'. It is an eclectic mix of observations of everyday life in Weimar Berlin that ranges from construction sites to traffic, leisure, individual profiles and finally, albeit sparsely, a political commentary on the Weimar Republic's decline into Nazism.

Dispersing the Myths about Asylum

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Review of 'No One is Illegal', Steve Cohen, Trentham Books £17.99

'Asylum Madness' is the logo the 'Sun' is running above the articles it is pumping out daily against refugees in Britain. In fact it more accurately describes the level of hysteria that the right wing press and politicians have been stirring up. Steve Cohen's book 'No One Is Illegal: Asylum and Immigration Control Past and Present' helps to debunk some of those myths around refugees.

Land and Freedom

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Review of 'Cutting the Wire', Sue Branford and Jan Rocha, Latin America Bureau £14.99

The opening demonstration of this year's World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, was dominated by the red flags and banners of the Landless Workers' Movement--the MST. Not all of its one million members were there; not even the 100,000-plus who attend their schools and further education classes. But what they brought to the meetings and the debates was the experience of an extraordinary and in many ways successful movement that in just over 15 years has mobilised and led thousands of land occupations, protests and marches.

Countering Captain Correlli

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'British Intervention and the Greek Revolution', John Newsinger, Socialist Historians Society £2.75

The Second World War was fought to make the world safe for freedom and democracy. That is the claim made today, just as it was at the beginning of 1946 when the regiment I was in was posted to Greece. The war being over, troops in the Mediterranean were expected to be sent home and demobilised. They were bemused--but not amused--to find themselves being used to keep in power a right wing government of black marketeers and Nazi collaborators. At the same time they were used in the relentless persecution of the Resistance.

Personal Best

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'In Black and White', Donald McRae, Scribner £18.99

Books about sporting celebrities rarely capture the attention of socialists, and perhaps rightly so. The vast majority are instantly forgettable chronicles of 'glory days' ghost-written for performers with no obvious talents beyond their speed, strength, stamina or agility.

The Revolution Will Not be Publicised

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Review of 'Censored 2003', ed. Peter Phillips, Seven Stories £12.99

The US media sank to new depths in the aftermath of 11 September 2001. The major networks dropped even the pretence of objectivity and neutrality in favour of naked, shameless patriotism. Dan Rather, the prominent CBS newscaster, recently admitted, 'It starts with a feeling of patriotism within oneself. I know the right question, but you know what? This is not exactly the right time to ask it.'

On Russia With Love

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'Marx and Anglo-Russian Relations and Other Writings', D B Riazanov, Francis Boutle Publishers £10

During the 19th century, constitutional Britain and despotic Russia had one common and abiding interest--the defeat of revolution. In 1848, when the Tsar sent his army to crush the Hungarian Revolution, Lord Palmerston, Britain's foreign secretary, murmured to the Russian ambassador, 'Get it over quickly'. Although Britain and Russia clashed during the Crimean War of 1854-56, the war had a sham quality because Britain sought not to destroy but to contain Russia, so as to save Tsardom for the cause of counter-revolution.

Pages