Reviews

Mask Off: Masculinity Redefined

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This incredibly enjoyable book utterly destroys the myths around masculinity and is a great read for younger men told to “man up”, “stop being such a wimp” and so on. There has been a significant rise of books around the same theme, but JJ Bola directly relates his struggles and understanding to a younger audience, which has largely gone amiss in recent years.

Insurgent Empire

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This book is a very important contribution to the history of anti-imperialism and racism in the UK. Priyamvada Gopal first tells the stories of several white colonialists who, as a result of the brutality of imperial rule that they witnessed, became convinced that it should be either radically reformed or ended.

The letters and the reports they either sent or brought back to Britain circulated among a growing number of anti-imperialists to become an important current that subsequently formed the basis of anti-imperialist campaigns up to the present day.

Superior: The Return of Race Science

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Many people assume that scientific racism and eugenics were dealt a death blow at the end of the Second World War when the nature and scale of horrifying Nazi atrocities were revealed. But Angela Saini destroys that myth in the most forensic of fashions.

First, she shows the extent to which the Nazis were foreshadowed by top British academics who sought justification for slavery, and later colonisation, in theories of racial hierarchy.

On the Doors

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Eliza Gearty’s debut novel is vivid and utterly engaging, grabbing you from the very first page and pulling you up and down Glasgow’s sandstone tenement flats, into living rooms filled with clouds of tobacco and along the city’s iconic streets.

The book is loosely based on Gearty’s own experiences as a door-to-door fundraiser, and is told through the character, Emma. Emma works for a homelessness charity and, like many fundraisers, and until only recently, a sharply rising number of the population, is employed on a zero-hour contract.

Shooting the Darkness

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This book of photographs is linked to a documentary of the same name. It tells some of the stories of the Troubles in Northern Ireland using the photographs and memories of seven photographers: Stanley Matchett, Trevor Dickson, Alan Lewis, Martin Nangle, Crispin Rodwell and Paul Faith.

They each have their own chapter where they explain something of their own professional lives before providing a commentary on their photographs, which span from the 1960s until the early noughties.

Behind Closed Doors

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My sex education, like many of my peers, was limited. Conversations were hushed, lessons were focused on contraception and how to prevent pregnancy, and there was little discussion about sexuality, gender and the importance of giving consent.

Natalie Fiennes provides a daring and radical, if at times somewhat jumbled, overview of how sex education is “outdated and ripe for transformation”, confirming what many have said for too long.

We Fight Fascists

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There’s much to be recommended in this account about the legendary, postwar, anti-fascist 43 Group, containing as it does terrific exploits and anecdotes from Group veterans that encapsulate masterful resistance to fascism.

Leaning on participant Morris Beckman’s classic book, The 43 Group, Sonabend illuminates the petty bourgeois nature of fascist organisation and the twin practice of its electoral and street operations. He also chronicles various fascist formations that grew in 1946, capturing internal tensions within the extreme right and the nature of wannabe Führers.

The Windrush Betrayal

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This book is a searing account of the effects of Tory immigration policy, introduced with the support of their LibDem partners, and designed to make it impossible for irregular migrants to survive in the UK.

With laws introduced in 2014 and 2016, Home Office officials systematically set about destroying the lives of thousands of West Indians who had arrived in the UK in the 1960s and 70s.

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