Books

Making Sacrifices

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Review of 'The Myth of the Holy Cow', Dwijendra Narayan Jha, Verso £16.00

Hinduism is associated with the cow as a sacred animal and to be a Hindu is synonymous with not eating meat. But like all religious doctrine there is plenty of mythmaking and mysticism that goes with this. This excellent new book by D N Jha challenges the sanctity of the holy cow and exposes the mumbo jumbo surrounding this.

Glossing Over the Problems

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Review of 'The World We're In', Will Hutton, Little Brown £17.99

Will Hutton's new book is a hymn of praise to Europe. Despite supporting the US war in Afghanistan, Hutton does not like the way the US has become an unchallenged 'global hyperpower' since the end of the Cold War. In particular he does not like the way the new US dominance is politically shaped by US conservatism. 'The most salient political event of our times has been the rise of the American right over the last 25 years and the collapse of American liberalism,' writes Hutton.

An Artful Business

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Review of 'Privatising Culture', Chin-tao Wu, Verso £20.00

The immediate appeal of this book is that it has the nerve to look behind the glossy facades of modern high culture and see what's going on in the murky backrooms. Better still, Chin-tao Wu tries to use the insights she gets to work out what high culture is for in modern capitalist society.

Denied the Pleasure of Life

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Review of 'Dreaming and Scheming', Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber £8.99

This collection by Hanif Kureishi is divided into two parts--'Politics' and 'Culture and Films'. The latter section records how Kureishi's films--'My Beautiful Laundrette', 'Sammy and Rosie Get Laid', 'My Son The Fanatic' and 'Intimacy'--got to the silver screen. Kureishi says that he wrote 'My Son The Fanatic' as a response to the 'fatwa' on Salman Rushdie after the publication of 'The Satanic Verses'. Most of the protests against it took place in the northern towns now stalked by the BNP.

Just Like My Dreams They Fade and Die

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Review of 'The Boom and the Bubble', Robert Brenner, Verso £15.00

Amid the dismal picture global capitalism has presented since its supposed 'triumph' in 1989, there has been one apparent success story--the United States. The boom of the second half of the 1990s was hailed as the emergence of a 'New Economy' powered by information technology that was no longer subject to the normal ups and downs of the capitalist cycle.

Twilight of the Gods

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Review of 'Berlin: The Downfall', Antony Beevor, Penguin £25.00

Antony Beevor's new book, 'Berlin', is a follow up to his bestseller 'Stalingrad'. The book outlines the last apocalyptic months of Hitler's Reich. Germany was all but destroyed under the weight of the Red Army's attack on Berlin. Stalin threw over 2.5 million men, 41,000 guns and more than 6,000 tanks into the campaign to seize the German capital.

Marx Goes to the Market

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Review of 'Marx's Revenge', Meghnad Desai, Verso £19

This book is a testimony to the intellectual capitulation of a section of the left to neoliberalism. Meghnad (now Lord) Desai was once sympathetic to Marxism. Now he is an admirer of globalisation. This book is a sustained defence of capitalism against the global anti-capitalist movement.

The Lowest Climb the Highest Peaks

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Review of 'Tigers of the Snow', Jonathan Neale, Little, Brown £18.99

In the 1960s a generation of hippies rejected the emptiness of bourgeois Western values, and headed for Nepal, the home to the Sherpas farmers who migrated from Tibet to the Himalayan pastures below Mount Everest 500 years ago. They were Buddhists and were despised by most of the Hindu Nepalese elite. The British thought them more timid and subservient than the warlike Tibetans, and they became the 'natural' choice as porters for the gentlemen climbers in the heyday of capitalism--the late 19th century onwards.

Torn Between Love and War

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Review of 'At Swim, Two Boys', Jamie O'Neill, Scribner £19.99

This story interweaves the innocence and romance of two boys falling in love with a sharp narrative on the political climate and events leading to the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. The main characters' fathers, Mr Mack and Mr Doyle, joined the British army and served together. They are both Catholics and are now back in Ireland and living in a small coastal town near Dublin where their lives diverge. Mr Mack, a small corner shop owner, sees himself on the up moving into respectable society. He sees his old friend Mr Doyle as a drunk letting his family fall into poverty.

Poor State of Affairs

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Review of 'Rethinking Welfare', Iain Ferguson, Michael Lavalette and Gerry Mooney, Sage £16.99

When Tony Blair got into Downing Street, he threatened to 'think the unthinkable' about welfare. For Blair, this phrase was a code for launching an assault on the fundamentals of the welfare state itself through tuition fees for students, NHS privatisation, cutting single mums' benefits and a host of other attacks.

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