Reviews

The Corruption of Capitalism

Issue section: 
Issue: 

On the plus side, Guy Standing has put together a powerful indictment of contemporary capitalism. While some of his material is familiar, it seems fair to say that everyone will come away from this book knowing more about the inequities of capitalism than they did before.

He looks at the use of charities as a means of tax avoidance, for example. We learn that Lady Gaga’s Born This Way foundation raised $2.6 million in 2012 but gave away only $5,000. And the Cancer Fund of America over ten years raised getting on for $90 million, but only gave cancer patients a paltry $890,000.

No Way But This: In search of Paul Robeson

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Paul Robeson must be counted as one of the most remarkable Americans of his era, or indeed any era. It was for his singing voice that he was best known but that reflected only a fraction of his talents.

He was a good enough actor to be offered leading roles in a number of films and in theatre productions in the West End of London and on Broadway. He was also an outstanding athlete. All this was achieved in the face of the discrimination that came his way for being an African-American.

There's No Place

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

The spectacle of President Trump rubbing his hands together in delight as he visits the ruined underwater city of Houston perplexed me to begin with; even for a man that strange, this was bizarre behaviour, surely?

Then I read Glyn Robbins’s new book and the penny dropped — Trump is a property developer. The destruction of homes and immiseration of the poorest people doesn’t evoke empathy. For him and his fellow developers it is an opportunity to mop up.

Hip and hop: You Can Do Anything

Issue section: 
Issue: 

I have a three year old niece who loves reading together, so I was excessively excited to learn that rapper and activist Akala has brought out his debut children’s picture book. Trying to find books that don’t reinforce gender stereotypes or the centrality of the nuclear family isn’t easy, even in worlds of talking animals and magic. So I was keen to see what Akala would offer us.

Song of Gulzarina

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

This is a powerful, sweeping novel that follows the life of Saleem Khan, a high school teacher from rural Pakistan who migrates to Bradford in the 1960s. Saleem faces vicious racism in the Yorkshire mills, becomes a witness to the violence of imperialism when he returns to Pakistan and ends his tale contemplating suicide bombing in modern day Manchester.

Abortion Wars

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Abortion Wars is a fantastic analysis of past and present-day debates and fights for abortion rights — but it is also a tool for organisation and resistance.

Judith Orr describes the period we are living in as “a choice moment”, shaped by the clash between huge threats from Donald Trump and the anti-choice movement on the one hand and the growth of movements for women’s rights, like the women’s marches in January 2017 and abortion rights movements in Ireland and Poland.

Hezbollah: The political economy of Lebanon’s party of God

Issue section: 

What is Hezbollah? Its disciplined and well-armed fighters are an important player in key regional conflicts, working in alliance with Syrian and Iranian states. Its media and telecommunications systems are independent of Lebanese state interference or control. Its network of municipal, welfare and business organisations structure daily life for hundreds of thousands of residents in its heartlands.

Against Elections

Issue section: 
Author: 

The heart of the problem, according to David Van Reybrouck, is very simple: “Our democracy is being wrecked by being limited to elections, even though elections were not invented as a democratic instrument.”

His analysis starts by examining the paradox that everyone wants democracy but no one believes in it any more. Across Europe rates of voting have declined from around 85 percent in the 1960s to 77 percent in the 2000s, while politicians are among the most derided professions, with an approval rating of 3.9 out of ten, according to Eurobarometer.

The Trial of Roger Casement

Issue section: 
Author: 

While being one of the most compelling and interesting figures around the events of the 1916 Easter Rising, Roger Casement has not always dined at the top table of Irish rebels.

His homosexuality and his work for the British Empire while at the Foreign Office have meant that he has sat uneasily among some nationalists.

This entertaining, well-produced and timely graphic novel is symptomatic of recent moves to rehabilitate him.

Revolutionary Yiddishland

Issue section: 
Author: 

It’s not often that any section of the working class suffers a defeat so crushing that the collective memory of its struggles and the living tradition of the participants is completely extinguished.

Perhaps the closest we have come to this is the fate of the revolutionary Jewish working class movement of the first half of the 20th century in Eastern Europe.

Revolutionary Yiddishland is a marvellous, bitter-sweet book that seeks to rescue this tradition. It is a bitter book because we know the ending.

Pages