Sinclair, Ian

Sinclair, Ian

Ian Sinclair

1 June 2024News

New report on getting 'the world back on a path to nuclear disarmament'

On 21 May, the Nuclear Education Trust, an independent charity that aims to inform and educate decision-makers, the public and media about nuclear weapons, launched its new report The Future for UK Defence, Diplomacy and Disarmament in the House of Lords.

Written by Dr Tim Street and based on a survey of UK parliamentarians, think tank experts, academics and representatives of civil society organisations (including PN editor Milan Rai), the report considers ‘how the…

1 June 2024Review

C Hurst & Co, 2023; 688pp; £17.99

At over 650 pages, White Malice may look daunting but is actually written in such an engrossing journalistic style that it sometimes reads like a spy thriller.

Dr Susan Williams, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, focuses on US covert intervention in the Congo and Ghana in the late ’50s and early ’60s.

In particular, she writes about the fate of two popular politicians – Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of…

1 February 2024Review

Pluto Press, 2023; 248pp; £16.99

From Che Guevara to Gandhi and Lenin, revolutionaries and historians of revolutions have tended to focus on so-called ‘Great Men’.

She Who Struggles is an admirable attempt to correct this imbalance, an edited collection highlighting women who played key roles in revolutionary, anti-colonial and socialist struggles during the twentieth century, including in Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Kurdistan, Mali and Palestine.

‘Within these movements, women’s liberation was often placed as…

1 December 2023Review

The New Press, 2023; 240pp; £19.99

Earlier this year, Brown University’s Costs of War project calculated that the US-led ‘war on terror’ has led to nearly one million people being killed due to direct violence, many more being killed by indirect causes connected to the conflict, and 38 million people being displaced.

In his new book, US writer and activist Norman Solomon highlights how the government, military and media hide the murderous impact of US military interventions from the US public.

Relying largely on…

1 October 2023Review

Johns Hopkins University Press, 2023; 138pp; £37.50  

Concise, accessible and well-referenced, this is a wonderful book about a protest I wasn’t previously aware of.

Vincent J Intondi, professor of history at Montgomery College in Maryland, USA, sets the scene: surrounded by ‘advisors who believed nuclear war was a reasonable option to deal with adversaries’ in the early 1980s newly-elected US president Ronald Reagan massively increased both military spending and his warmongering rhetoric.

In response, the anti-nuclear movement,…

1 August 2023Review

Allen Lane, 2022; 260pp; £20

Due to the impacts of global warming, ‘human movement on a scale never before seen will dominate this century and remake our world.’

This is the central proposition of this important popular science book. Gaia Vince, an honorary senior research fellow at University College London, believes we are on course for a 3 – 4 °C of temperature rise by 2100, with tens of millions of people forced to leave their homes by mid-century.

Vince points to some African cities: by 2030, Dar es…

1 June 2023Review

University of Hertfordshire Press, 2021; 166 pp; £16.99

Following the January 2023 mass trespass on Dartmoor, the 2014 – 2018 campaign to stop the felling of trees in Sheffield and the government’s 2011 U-turn on the privatisation of the forests, Saving The People’s Forest is a timely reminder that activists working today are part of a long line of popular struggles to protect public access to nature in the UK.

The book’s title refers to Epping Forest, on the border of Greater London and Essex. At 5,900 acres, it is the largest…

2 April 2023Review

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022; 422pp; £30

A long-time war correspondent with the Washington Post, Thomas E Ricks has turned his attention to the US civil rights movement.

Why?

‘The overall strategic thinking that went into the Movement, and the field tactics that flowed from that strategy’ reminded him of US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The comparison with war-fighting is certainly interesting but it’s his focus on strategy and tactics, including recruitment, training, planning,…

1 February 2023Review

The Bodley Head, 2022; 875pp; £30

At 875 pages, including a 50-page bibliography and 90 pages of references, this is a huge tome, and a serious investment of time.

Those looking for a much shorter primer covering much of the same ground may want to check out John Newsinger’s The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire (Bookmarks, 2006).

However, those who persist will discover a hugely impressive tour de force, providing a deep dive into the massive violence that ‘was…

1 December 2022Review

Simon & Schuster, 2022; 384pp; £12.99

In 2019, the Washington Post published a treasure trove of documents proving that ‘US officials had repeatedly lied to the public about what was happening in Afghanistan, just as they had in Vietnam.’ This industrial-scale deception was spread across the three presidencies of Bush, Obama and Trump.

The papers included notes from over 1,000 interviews with people who played a direct role in the war – taken from huge ‘Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’…

1 December 2022Review

Oxford University Press, 2022; 200pp; £18.99

‘We seem trapped in a world where fossil fuel producers and financiers have humanity by the throat,’ UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated in June. ‘For decades, many in the fossil fuel industry have invested heavily in pseudo-science and public relations — with a false narrative to minimise their responsibility for climate change and undermine ambitious climate policies.’

Written by two Rutgers University academics A Strategic Nature explores the relationship between…

1 August 2022Review

Verso, 2022; 368pp; £20

Opening with a quote from the lawyer Otto Gritschneder – ‘Those who sleep in a democracy will wake up in a dictatorship’ – Nils Melzer notes that his new book is intended as ‘an urgent appeal… a wake up call to the general public.’

The United Nations special rapporteur on torture from 2016 until March 2022, Melzer provides a damning indictment of the US, UK, Sweden and Ecuador for their treatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Writing in methodical and accessible language, he…

1 June 2022Review

Hurst, 2021; 368pp; £14.99

Presumably hastily put together after the disorderly US-UK-NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, The Ledger is written by two advisors to the Western militaries and Afghan government: David Kilcullen and Greg Mills. Their roles gave the pair an enviable level of access to top level US-UK government and military sources, whom they cite regularly, but is also likely a key reason why their analysis is so restricted, generally limited to what Noam Chomsky calls the ‘fight it…

1 April 2022Review

Pluto Press, 2021; 146 pp; £9.99

Though he doesn’t mention it in this book, I imagine activist Chris Saltmarsh is a big fan of the Chico Mendes quote that often appears on Twitter: ‘Environmentalism Without Class Struggle is Just Gardening.’

For Saltmarsh, ‘the root cause of climate change is our system of organising the economy and our relationship to nature: capitalism.’ With the ruling class profiting most from the crisis, he notes the resistance of capital is ‘perhaps the biggest barrier to climate justice.’…

1 February 2022Review

OUP, 2021; 256pp; £12.99

Nonviolent resistance campaigns have been twice as successful as violent campaigns in achieving their objectives. That was the conclusion of Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan’s Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, making it a seminal book in the study and practice of nonviolent struggle (see PN 2547 – 2548…