Reviews

How It Happened

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This is a long overdue translation of Erno Munkácsi’s 1947 first-hand account of the final months and days that saw the extermination of over 400,000 Hungarian Jews in the death camp at Auschwitz. It is a powerful addition to any serious understanding of the degradation, humiliation and ultimately extermination that befell European Jewry with the victory of fascism. It should serve as an urgent and powerful reminder to all those fighting the far right today as to what awaits us if we are unable to stem its poisonous ideology.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Strange Rebirth of Labour England

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Once upon a time there was an enchanted land called Labour England which had “at its heart the idea of social, public and cooperative ownership as part of a mixed economy”.

This Wonderland had been created by a great wizard, Clement Attlee, who had “changed the world”. He had introduced the NHS, a massive house-building programme, nationalised the mines, brought the troops back from Europe and the Far East “and struck at the very heart of British Imperialism by giving independence to India”.

Don't Stop the Carnival: Black British Music

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This ambitious odyssey traces the start of black music in the UK from the 11th century onwards. From the point when knights return from the crusades with African instruments (such as the oud and tabour) Le Gendre takes us on an epic journey of triumph over prejudice culminating in the ubiquity of black and black-influenced music in the 1960s.

Reporting the Troubles

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The period in the history of Northern Ireland that has become known as “The Troubles” spanned three decades and saw the loss of over 3,600 lives. More than 2,000 of these were civilians and all this in an area that contained less than 2 million people.

This book is an attempt to tell some of the stories of this time, beginning with the civil rights movement in Derry in October 1968 and concluding with the Good Friday Agreement of April 1998.

Art for All

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In Art for All Christine Lindey considers socially committed art and artists across three periods — 1914–39, 1939–45 and 1945–62. In her introduction she explains the use of the term: “‘Socially committed’ suggests an active engagement with social change...[and] allowing the flexibility needed for the consideration of a wide gamut of works ranging from paintings to posters.”

Stories of Solidarity

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In the chapter “The Secret World of the South Wales Miner”, Hywel Francis makes a strong case for the relevance of oral history when exploring the development of the working class in South Wales. By using it in this collection of essays, he uncovers some inspiring but often neglected Valleys history from the last century, and helps to fill some gaps in popular knowledge of events from the Rebecca Riots of 1843 to the General Strike of 1926.

The first section of this book deals with some rarely reported but very exciting uprisings and rebellions in the area.

Life Lessons

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With the huge cuts in school funding, the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention, the increase in tuition fees and the lack of funding for adult education, the English education system appears to be on the brink of collapse. This book’s fundamental message is one that urges us to consider what needs to be tackled and overcome within our divided and failing schools and colleges.

Harlem 69

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“In every city you find the same thing going down/ Harlem is the capital of every ghetto town.”

So sang Bobby Womack in Across 110th Street, which refers to the unofficial boundary between Harlem and the rest of New York City. In 1969 Harlem was a city within a city, with more than 90 percent of its population being black. It is the subject of the last book in Stuart Cosgrove’s trilogy about key political events and music of the late 1960s.

Algiers, Third World Capital

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Elaine Mokhtefi arrives in Paris in 1951. Over the following decades she gives her all to facilitate the movement for Algerian Independence, on the way mingling with the best — and worst — political figures of the time.

Mokhtefi ascribes her political awakening to May Day 1952 when she witnesses a huge protest and is at first “bewitched by the formidable display of worker solidarity and trade unionism.” At the rear of the parade she notices thousands of men “young, grim, slightly built and poorly dressed” without banners, rushing with arms raised to join in.

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