Reviews

The Murderer of Warren Street

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The French Blanquist revolutionary, Emmanuel Barthelemy, was hanged for the Warren Street murders on 22 January 1855. He had been sentenced to death, even though the jury that found him guilty had recommended clemency. It was a public execution, watched by perhaps as many as 10,000 people, apparently a disappointing crowd for the time.

How had a dedicated and uncompromising French revolutionary, a veteran of the 1848 barricades, come to die on the scaffold in London?

A World to Win

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The bicentenary of Karl Marx’s birth has been commemorated in various ways this year and this colossal new biography by Swedish academic Sven-Eric Liedman is the latest addition to the Marx bibliography.

At over 600 pages, Liedman’s book aims “to present Marx’s work in all its breadth”, giving equal weight to both his life and his work. Everything from Marx’s university thesis and love letters to Jenny Von Westphalen to unpublished responses intended for Russian revolutionary Vera Zasulich are considered worthy of evaluation alongside The Communist Manifesto and Capital.

Mistaken Identity

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How did identity politics go from being part of a wider radical movement for change to becoming a tool for establishment politicians to undermine the left? If identity politics doesn’t move us towards genuine liberation, what sort of politics do we need? These are the central questions that Asad Haider asks in this thoughtful and thought-provoking book about race, class and the limitations of identity-based politics.

May Made Me: an oral history of the 1968 uprising in France

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Among the many books published in the 50th anniversary of the May ’68 revolt, this one stands out for its ability to hear from those directly involved. Through dozens of interviews with participants, Mitchell Abidor lets us feel the transformative power of mass struggle on individuals and society.

Students fighting the police on the barricades and 10 million workers on general strike made what had seemed impossible capable of being realised. And people found courage and new strengths.

Doughnut Economics

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Kate Raworth’s “doughnut” refers to the dilemma currently facing capitalism and has, she claims, become an “iconic image” in the world of global development economics. The dough provides a “safe and just space for humanity”. The hole in its centre represents “critical human deprivation” while “critical planetary degradation” lies in the space beyond the outer crust. The dilemma is how to eradicate the former without exacerbating the latter.

Kids: Child Protection in Britain

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There are hard facts that have to be appreciated to understand the real lives of too many children in Britain today. Our children are the unhappiest children in Europe, mental distress among the young is a pandemic, foodbanks and child poverty are rampant and child on child violence and deaths blight cities like London.

Nobody knows the reality behind these facts better than Camilla Batmanghelidjh the founder of Kids Company. From its inception in 1996 its aim was to provide support to deprived inner city children.

Opening The Gates: The Lip Affair, 1968 – 1981

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Lip began as a watchmaking workshop in 1867 in Besançon in eastern France. By the 1960s it was a well-known and successful watch manufacturer. Lip was shaken by the political eruptions of May 1968 when the factory was occupied. Although Donald Reid’s magisterial book centres on events at Lip that started in 1973 it does acknowledge the impact of the preceding period; “the movement at Lip in 1973 developed directly out of May ‘68”.

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