Reviews

The Book of Harlan

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Born in Georgia in 1917, black jazz and blues musician Harlan moves north, first to Kansas City and then to Harlem. With best friend Lizard, a Jewish trumpet player, he forms a band that, in the late 1930s, joins other black musicians in the Harlem of Paris, Montemarte. But when Paris is occupied by the Nazis, Harlan and Lizard are transported to Buchenwald.

Events in Buchenwald are dramatised in stark, economical detail. In one particularly gruelling scene, Isle Koch, wife of the commander of Buchenwald, amuses herself by brutally abusing captives.

Unleashing Demons

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It is alleged in some quarters that we are seeing “buyer’s remorse” in the UK over the referendum decision to leave the EU. This reviewer has not felt it and the polls do not seem to support it, but Tony Blair, no less, is threatening to return on the back of it.

There is undoubtedly a more widely held perception that it is somehow more progressive to support the EU than to oppose it. This book, unintentionally, goes some way towards dispelling that particular myth.

No Borders

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The author explains that this book is a combination of PhD research, time spent as an activist in Calais and as a researcher activist in Athens. She says it has been undertaken in this way in order to avoid the artificial separation between theory and practice, which often takes place.

The introduction describes the recent refugee drownings in 2015 and the way in which they were reported. The movement of thousands of people to Europe is presented in most reports as a problem for Europe, and the refugees described first as victims of smugglers and then as criminals themselves.

The Speech

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“A paranoid conspiracy theory” — this is how Frank, lead character of this wholly fictional but entirely plausible novel describes his friend’s suggestion that the authorities, far-right politicians and Nazi thugs could all be ensnared in a web of racism, bigotry and brutality.

Reminiscences of RAR

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Reminiscences of Rock Against Racism (RAR) is an essential buy for every socialist and anti-racist. This is not simply a collection of stories, but a guide to building a mass movement, and it couldn’t be more needed. With the racist bigot Donald Trump in charge of the US and the far-right rising across Europe, the movement against racism needs to be united on a scale much larger than anything we’ve seen in recent years.

Lenin's Moscow

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In this gripping political memoir Alfred Rosmer gives us a very clear, detailed look at what went on during his time in Moscow as a delegate to the Comintern and as a member of the executive committee to the Communist International, from 1920 through to Lenin’s death in 1924.

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