Judy Cox

The Minnesotan Candidate

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Review of 'The Plot Against America', Philip Roth, Jonathan Cape £16.99

America - the world's policeman, safeguarding democracy. If you don't buy that image of George Bush's US this novel will speak to you. Although it is set in the 1940s, Philip Roth's hugely successful book addresses the growing power of the US right and the impact of their increasingly vicious 'war on terror'. The novel demonstrates that US democracy is vulnerable - not to Al Qaida, but to the far right in the US itself. The Plot Against America is not hatched by Islamic terrorists but by homegrown fascists.

Suffragette City

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Review of ’Sylvia Pankhurst‘ by Shirley Harrison, Aurum Press £20

Sylvia Pankhurst was one of the outstanding women activists in British history. She was the most courageous of the Suffragettes, who fought for votes for women. But she was also a socialist who devoted her huge energies to improving life for working class women and men. Throughout her life Sylvia remained passionately committed to challenging racism. She employed the first black journalist in Britain, Claude McKay, on her socialist paper, The Workers‘ Dreadnought.

Mississippi Murder

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Review of 'The Little Friend', Donna Tart, Bloomsbury £16.99

From the gripping opening page of Donna Tartt's new novel, you know you are on unfamiliar ground. The book is set in the American Deep South--home to poisonous snakes and redneck preachers, a place of sweltering heat and exotic plants.

The book begins with the shocking murder of a much loved nine year old boy, Robin. The story then jumps forwards a few years and describes the impact of the murder on Robin's relatives--his eccentric aunts, his devastated mum Charlotte and his sisters Harriet and Allison.

In the Imagination

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Review of 'Albion', Peter Ackroyd, Chatto and Windus £25

Peter Ackroyd has written a range of great books that explore the relationships between a variety of historical times and places and the imaginations they foster. In his new book he sets out to find a 'native spirit that persists through time and circumstance' by looking for what was modern in Anglo-Saxon and medieval literature.

Personal and Political

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Review of 'Sweet Sixteen', director Ken Loach

Ken Loach is a master film-maker, so a new release by him is something to look forward to. For over four decades Loach has celebrated the heroism of working class people. His films always draw from ordinary working class lives extraordinarily moving and relevant stories. Sometimes they feature militant collective struggles that shake the system and its apologists. In other films Loach centres on intimate family dramas that reveal the politics of everyday life.

'Friend of the Unfriended Poor'

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Review of 'Shelley and Revolutionary Ireland', Paul O'Brien, Redwords £11

When Percy Bysshe Shelley set sail for Ireland in 1812 he was only 19 years old. He was full of radical enthusiasm and energy, having recently been expelled from Oxford for making his atheism public. He went to Ireland precisely to put his political ideas into practice: 'I beheld in short that I had duties to perform.'

The misery and oppression he saw in Ireland roused him to fury. He wrote:

Mouthwatering Perspectives

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Review of exhibition 'Matisse Picasso' at Tate Modern, London

This exhibition has been acclaimed as 'momentous' and 'tremendous' and 'the first major exhibition of the 21st century'. For once, it is an event that lives up to the hype. The masterpieces are worth the pricey £10 entrance fee by themselves. But seeing Matisse and Picasso's works placed next to each other, seeing how they learnt from and fed off each other across the decades, is a revelation.

Partisan Poet

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Review of 'The Invasion Handbook', Tom Paulin, Faber and Faber £12.99

What caused the Second World War? What personal, political or intellectual flaws led Western leaders to create the conditions for the rise of fascism? Tom Paulin's new poem, 'The Invasion Handbook', explores these questions.

Anyone who has enjoyed Tom Paulin's appearances on 'Newsnight Review', his defence of the Bloody Sunday dramas and recent attacks on Israel, will not be surprised to learn that he is a partisan poet. He is on the side of the poor, the republicans, the socialists and the Jews.

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