Reviews

The Politics of Everybody

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There is a surge of interest in the politics of gender and sexuality among a new generation of activists. Sympathetic characters that challenge gender stereotypes are emerging in popular culture. The passing of equal marriage legislation signifies a more progressive approach towards homo- and bi-sexuality, yet many LGBT+ teenagers continue to fear being outed at school. Pride parades here and in the US pull huge crowds, but are dominated by commercial outfits.

Moonstone

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This short, beautiful novel tells the story of Máni Steinn Karlsson, a movie-obsessed teenager living with his one ancient relative in an attic in the centre of Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1918. Máni Steinn, translated as Moonstone, roams the small town looking for the odd jobs available to a boy who struggles to read and planning which film he will see next in either of the two cinemas.

Spain in Our Hearts

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Eighty years ago Spain was in the first months of a desperate struggle. The army, backed by every reactionary element in Spanish society, had rebelled against the elected Republican government. The Spanish working class rose, both to defend the Republic and to create a new and better society. It was the start of a bitter civil war, described by many as the first confrontation of the Second World War.

The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia

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This graphic novel tells the story of a remarkable woman, Louise Michel, one of the key figures of the Paris Commune, the world’s first working class revolution. Beautiful ink and watercolour drawings bring the events and characters vividly to life.

In 1905 American feminist writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman arrives in Montmartre, Paris. Gilman is met by Monique, a young woman whose mother had been educated by Louise Michel in a school for the poor. Monique relays the story of Louise’s life.

Black Ops Advertising

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The internet is “nothing more than a purveyor of sales messages”, says Mara Einstein. “Your phone is an advertising medium” and social media “less about community than commerce”, and she is right.

Little wonder that Facebook’s former head of data, Jeff Hammerbacher, complained, “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”

Imperialism in the 21st Century

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Everyone remembers the 1,133 deaths from the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse. But who knows about Bangladeshi workers who earn just one euro cent for every 18 T-shirts they make, and take home €1.36 after a ten or 12 hour day?

Ultimate villains of this “super-exploitation” are corporate buyers from the Global North and race-to-the-bottom capitalist market competition.

Splinternet

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Malcolmson’s history of the development of the computer and the internet, going as far back as the abacus and punched cards for weaving looms, is readable and informative.

But the text keeps jumping out at you with bald assertions such as, “Industrialisation did not lead to war, which had always existed” and “most human activities including war were steadily taken out of the animal world into the countable, machine world”.

Actually, in the earliest epochs of humanity, before surpluses in food or other goods existed, there was no war.

Left Field

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Left Field is a thoughtful and gentle memoir. Born in 1945, David Wilson “had contact at a young age with people who’d led dangerous political lives”, such as the Danish doctor who helped Jews fleeing the Nazis.

His father had radical views and had witnessed the horrors of war and fascism first hand, being one of the first medics to go into Bergen-Belsen camp after liberation, and had shown the young David photographs of the horrifying scenes he had found there.

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