Reviews

Debriefing the President

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A book by an ex-CIA “leadership analyst” who admires George Bush senior and constantly seeks the best ways to defend American interests might not be the normal fare of Socialist Review.

However, this account of agent John Nixon’s meetings with the recently imprisoned Saddam Hussein has caused some minor ripples in the stagnant ponds of the bourgeois press for what it exposes of the American state and security services, and the way it clearly demolishes any lingering justifications of the US and Britain attacking Iraq.

Splinterlands

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The world of 2050 is a frightening, unstable place. The European Union has collapsed, having “hit a wall of Euroskepticism, fiscal austerity and xenophobia”. The United States is beset by environmental disasters, with Washington having been destroyed by Hurricane Donald in 2022.

A great uprising has fragmented China, and Russia has disintegrated along ethnic lines. Nationalism and terrorism are rife and the few centres of “order” are authoritarian safe havens where capital and the super-rich can carry on as before.

The Three Worlds of Social Democracy

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The authors discuss the social democratic models in Western Europe, South America and peripheries. The central model in Europe discussed by Max Crook is British social democracy, which championed a mixed economy with the free market dogma of containing inflation through a monetarist economic policy. New Labour saw social democracy integrate the neoliberal economic model.

Testosterone Rex

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Testosterone Rex is a firm riposte to the recent book Testosterone: Sex, Power and the Will to Win, which places testosterone as so important that “a simple fact remains: without testosterone there would be no humans to have a history”. This bold claim is challenged by neuroscientist and feminist writer Cordelia Fine, who wrote the bestselling Delusions of Gender.

October 1917

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Books marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution are not in short supply. But this is among the few to praise the revolution rather than seek to bury it.

American Marxist Paul Le Blanc provides an introduction to the collection of articles with an overview of eyewitness accounts and interpretations by historians with varying degrees of sympathy, mostly none.

Kill All Normies

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This provides some good insights but draws the wrong conclusion. The book focuses on the so-called “Alt-right” and how with a degree of success, promoted its ideas online. The self-promoted name “Alt-right” encompasses a spectrum from far-right populists to actual fascists. Under Trump, Steve Bannon from the far-right news channel Breitbart became the president’s chief strategist before being forced to step down by the anti-racist movement that erupted after Charlottesville.

The Unwomanly Face of War

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The author is a Nobel Prize winner who documents the experience of women that served in the Soviet Army in the Second World War, based on hundreds of interviews she carried out in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

One million women served in the Soviet Army and she spoke to women who worked in every possible role and geographical area, including sappers, nurses, surgeons, foot soldiers, air force captains, pilots, tank drivers, partisans and snipers.Originally heavily censored, it was first published in 1985, and this is the first time it has been available in English.

The Liar's Quartet

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Sitting in the shadows of the fairly new Trinity Shopping Centre near the now closed Conservative Club, there is a Red Shed, also known as Wakefield Labour Club.

Having miraculously survived various redevelopments in the city centre the Red Shed celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The Red Shed is the political origin of comedian Mark Thomas’s activism, so to celebrate its birthday he put on a show and took The Red Shed on tour.

The Liars Quartet collects the scripts of The Red Shed and his previous shows, Cuckooed and Bravo Figaro!

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