Books

The War Against Disabled People, by Ellen Clifford DPAC campaigners protest against Atos Picture: Pete Riches Zed Books, 2020

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This is a thoroughly researched account of the history of welfare reform and its devastating impact on the lives of disabled people’s in Britain. It’s a powerful indictment of the governments responsible and a welcome tribute to the new movement that has fought back. Ellen Clifford is a prominent activist with the coalition Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). The war of the title refers to the brutal process of welfare reform, which began with plans under New Labour governments to get a million people off benefits and into work.

Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West, Catherine Belton William Collins £25

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Catherine Belton’s rigorously researched account of the rise of the Russian elite provides a rare glimpse into the activities of Putin’s inner circle. Such workings are often shrouded in mystery, behind the closed doors of the Kremlin. Belton presents us with a rare gift, an in-depth account of how the inner circle has consolidated its hold on Russia’s political system and the country’s vast resources to turn it into their own cash cow.

Sinews of War, Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula Laleh Khalili Verso £20

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Laleh Khalili, professor of International Politics at Queen Mary University in London, has carried out a wide-ranging study of the networks of trade in the Arabian Peninsula. Her research included travelling on huge container ships following sometimes dangerous routes. Khalili’s fascination with all things maritime is palpable. In chapters on routemaking, harbour-making, landside and shipboard labour and the bounties of war she demonstrates the close links between maritime trade and the major oil companies.

The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and the Ecological Rift John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark Monthly Review Press £25

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The Robbery of Nature draws on and develops the theories of Marx and Engels to understand why capitalism has such a destructive influence on the natural world. Central to Fosters and Clark’s argument is that, under capitalism, human beings and the natural environment are the original sources of wealth, but it is only the labour of workers that generates value. Workers are exploited in that they sell their labour power to produce goods and services and receive wages that represent less than the value of what they produce.

The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine; Rashid Khalidi

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For a century, Palestine has suffered through colonial rule, territorial conquest, occupation after occupation and an apartheid regime oppressing Palestinians in their land. The 100 Years’ War on Palestine explores this complex history, with Rashid Khalidi delving deep into the painful and heart-rendering timeline of how Palestine came to be the occupied land it is today. With sharp detail surrounding the many declarations of war and mandates set out to conquer and control Palestinians, he reveals the beauty of their continual resistance.

Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power, Lola Olufemi, Pluto Press £9.99

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The Black Lives Matter movement led by young people is rapidly shifting the discussion around racism. At the same time, the scale and energy of the movement is bringing people together, black and white, in solidarity and unity. In this climate, Lola Olufemi’s book Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power, while only recently published, already feels years behind.

Many Mouths: the Politics of Food in Britain from the Workhouse to the Welfare State, Nadja Durbach, Cambridge University Press £34.99

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Many Mouths is “a study of the material and the symbolic importance of feeding programmes initiated by the British government for particular target populations from the 1830s through the 1960s”. Focusing on the nation state and its relationship with food programme ‘recipients’, the book uses case studies — paupers, prisoners, famine victims, prisoners of war, schoolchildren, wartime civilians on the home front, and pregnant women, infants, and toddlers — to discuss the role of food in political relations between government and the governed.

Searching for Socialism: the Project of the Labour New Left from Benn to Corbyn, Colin Leys and Leo Panitch, Verso £8.99

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Searching for Socialism is a history of the Labour Party from the 1970s until 2019. Its authors, the Canadian academic Leo Panitch and British author Colin Leys, have condensed their 2000 book, The End of Parliamentary Socialism, to form the first five chapters. The rest of the book consists of new material on Labour under Blair, Brown, Miliband and Corbyn.

Hiding in Plain Sight: the Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America, Sarah Kendzior, Flatiron £22

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If you only read one journalistic account of Donald Trump’s America make sure it is Sarah Kendzior’s Hiding in Plain Sight. It is certainly one of the most devastating indictments not only of the Crooked President himself but of the corrupt system that put him in power. Kendzior first came to notice with the publication of a collection of her journalism, The View from Flyover Country, which provides a powerful account of post-2008 America from the point of view of the blue and white collar working class.

Sway: the Science of Unconscious Bias by Pragya Argawal

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This book represents what has largely become mainstream thinking on race, gender, sex and sexuality. Argawal argues that a large body of human behaviour, especially oppression, prejudice and discrimination, results from irrational decisions governed by our implicit or unconscious bias towards people who are different to us.

She combines her experiences as a single parent from India with her academic research in behavioural science.

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