A list of reviews up to 2012

17 October 2012Review

Peter McManners, Fly and be Damned: What Now For Aviation and Climate Change (Zed, 2012; 168pp; £14.99

Fly and be Damned is nothing if not ambitious. It outlines what the author, Peter McManners, believes are measures which could usher in 'the third golden age of aviation'. An era where we could enjoy all the advantages flying brings without destroying the climate. He argues that the technology to make this possible could be developed if the aviation industry was incentivised to do so.

The key to facilitating change, McManners argues, is to make the necessary resources available to the…

17 October 2012Review

John Stewart (ed). Why Noise Matters: A Worldwide Perspective on the Problems, Policies and Solutions; Routledge, 2011; 184pp; £24.99

Noise is one of the most versatile of afflictions. Each of the three components of noise – pitch, volume and duration – might create only marginal discontent but together they form an unavoidable menace.
It might be said too that noise is highly subjective. Aircraft noise is one thing but there are people who are disturbed by church bells and ticking clocks. Often a vague humming noise is enough to drive many to distraction. Finally, there are people who cannot adjust to the silence of…

26 September 2012Review

Maia Ramnath, Decolonizing Anarchism: An Anti-authoritarian History of India’s Liberation Struggle, AK Press, 2011; 180pp; £12.Steven Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt (eds), Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940: The Praxis of National Liberation, Internationalism, and Social Revolution, Brill Academic Publishers, 2010; 432pp; €109

In recent years, English-language histories of anarchism have been paying more attention to anarchist thinkers and activists outside the West. These two books are part of that trend.

I don't really think many PN readers are going to fork out for Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940; it's a very expensive academic hardback, but it is a valuable contribution.

The authors document influential anarchist movements in Argentina…

26 September 2012Review

Vintage, 2012; 496pp; £7.99

On paper this book should have a lot to offer PN readers. It begins in 1911 with the introduction of Connie Calloway, a fledgling suffragette, to Will Maitland, a cricketer, and traces their relationship through her increasing involvement in politics and his eventual path to war. This is a fascinating historical period, and a fictional account of a young woman moving from talk to action, whilst drawn to a man who despises her values, should have engaged and involved me.

26 September 2012Review

Harvard University Press, 2012; 294pp; £19.95

Given the current debates about the legitimacy of the use of drone strikes to eliminate suspected 'terrorists' in Pakistan and 'insurgents' in Afghanistan, this timely book aims to illuminate the story of the land and the people subjected to these Western onslaughts.

However, despite its title, this is not a book about drone strikes or their effects, and its actual contents – a collection of scholarly essays concerning the history, ethnography and anthropology of the Afghanistan-…

26 September 2012Review

Routledge, 2011; 208pp; £17.99

Simon Hall, senior lecturer in American History at the University of Leeds, has written an impressively researched, concise history of the anti-Vietnam War movement. With extensive endnotes and a wide-ranging bibliography, this is a superb introduction for students of the period and those interested in anti-war protest more broadly.

Incredibly, the 4,000 college students who demonstrated in Washington DC in 1962 in support of a conciliatory foreign policy made up, at that point,…

31 May 2012Review

Warehouse Theatre, 4–20 May. Further performances: 26, 27 August, Greenbelt Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse. 

If you get off a train at East Croydon, you may well gaze around and wonder which of the towering office blocks is the infamous Lunar House that ‘processes’ foreigners and refugees; the building that decides who is welcome in this land and who is not. Look around and you will find, overshadowed by the rise of concrete, The Warehouse Theatre. ‘Oh look’, you’ll say, ‘a proper theatre’. It is intimate, adventurous, has no ‘corporate identity’. It is a place of art in the making.


31 May 2012Review

Exhibition: Tate Britain, until 15 July; 10am-6pm, Sat-Thurs; and 10am-10pm, Fri; £14. Exhibition catalogue: Tate Publishing 2012; 240pp; £24.99.

In November 1950, 52 delegates arrived in Dover, bound for the third congress of the (Communist-inspired) World Peace Council in Sheffield. All but one were denied entry.

Whether the Foreign Office considered modern art too esoteric to have much propaganda value (across the pond the CIA took a different tack, covertly promoting Abstract Expressionism as a Cold War weapon) or it was simply too embarassing to turn back the world’s most famous living artist, Picasso was admitted.

1 March 2012Review

2011; 87 minutes; available for £11.99 + p&p from TVF:

A common argument in the leadup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein could only be toppled by a foreign invasion, that it was impossible for Iraqis themselves to remove such a brutal dictator.

An insightful and stirring look at the life and work of Gene Sharp, How To Start A Revolution demolishes this argument. Countering the widely accepted view of nonviolence as hopelessly naïve, the 84-year-old professor of political science has spent his life documenting the…

1 March 2012Review

First Second, 2011; 270pp; £10.99

Bongo-player, brilliant raconteur and Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman was also one of the scientists who helped to build the first atomic bombs at Los Alamos.

After the first successful test Feynman was elated, playing an improvised drum on the hood of a jeep, but later sank into a deep depression, convinced that global nuclear war was inevitable. To his credit he later came to regret at least part of his role, and decided never to work on classified projects again.…

1 March 2012Review

Verso, 2012; 237pp; £12.99

As the BBC Newsnight economics editor, Paul Mason has become a familiar face on television over the last few years, reporting on the protest movements, revolutions and revolts that have been “kicking off” across the globe since 2009.

Mason is also a keen blogger, and it is these (albeit now cleaned up) postings that form the backbone of this electrifying new book.

The essence of his argument is that “we’re in the middle of a revolution caused by the near collapse of free-market…

1 March 2012Review

CAM, 2011; 130pp; £5 from Housmans Bookshop; or 0207 837 4473

People forget too quickly. This little book is a great reminder of much that has been achieved, so far, by Labour Action for Peace which began life in 1940 as the Labour Pacifist Fellowship.

Long before then, back to the days of Keir Hardie, there have been those in the Labour party with the same vision and hope.

The book is a fascinating trip down memory lane, from the introduction by Tony Benn to the cheery photo of current LAP president, Jeremy Corbyn.

The cast is…

24 January 2012Review

OR Books, 2010; 150pp; £9.99

“The question,” Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty memorably asserted about words “is which is to be master – that’s all.” And the same goes for the digital technologies that now play an increasingly important role in our lives.

“Like the participants of media revolutions before our own,” Rushkoff notes “we have embraced the new technologies and literacies of our age without actually learning how they work and work on us…

7 January 2012Review

Translated from the French, Depleted Uranium: Deadly, Dangerous & Indiscriminate: The Full Picture attempts to bridge the gap between campaigning polemic and scientific argument in the area of depleted uranium (DU). One of the strengths of the book is that the authors generally make take the difficult, but correct, decision to leave open questions on which hard evidence is simply absent. This is a welcome contrast to the tendency amongst some anti-DU activists to talk up…

15 December 2011Review

Pluto, 2011; 224pp; £12.99

Laurie Penny aka “Penny Red”, first grabbed my attention earlier this year with her heartfelt and well-constructed articles about the student protests. But it was her twitter feed on 27 March that confirmed me as a big fan. This was the day of the anti-cuts march that saw protests all over London. I don’t quite know how she did it, but Penny seemed to be everywhere, giving an honest and unique perspective that we never saw in the mainstream media.

So it’s an absolute pleasure to have…