1 February 2024 Erica Smith

Pluto Press, 2023; 376pp; £14.99

Back in 2008, the 24-year old Plane Stupid campaigner Dan Glass was invited to Downing Street to receive an award and took the opportunity to superglue himself to the then-prime minister, Gordon Brown.

But Dan’s life as a campaigner neither began or ended with eco-activism.

Dan was a queer school kid who came out after Section 28 – which prohibited the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ by local authorities – became law in 1988.

Dan writes about how he would ‘slink out on the night bus to Soho and… wake up next to some guy…

1 February 2024 Andrea Needham

Independently Published, 2023; 257pp; £11.99

This morning I got up very early, went outside in my pyjamas, and asked the man who had been idling his car right outside my bedroom window for 10 minutes if he could please turn his engine off.

He did, but, when he left a few minutes later, he slammed the car door hard several times before revving away. Just to show me.

Of course, most drivers aren’t like this but it illustrates the key problem with the car: private benefits, public disbenefits. And those of us who don’t own a car get the double whammy: all of the bad stuff…

1 February 2024 Virginia Moffatt

Housmans Bookshop 2023; 190pp; £10;

Every now and then, I get sent a book to review which is a sheer joy from start to finish. Peace! Books! Freedom! is such a book.

A short gallop through the history of 5 Caledonian Road, the Kings Cross home of Housmans Bookshop, Peace News and many other radical organisations, it’s a great story of activism, resistance and community.

It begins with the generous donation by pacifist curate, Tom Willis that enabled Peace News to buy a building in Central London to create the movement centre they’d…

1 February 2024 Ian Sinclair

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 subsequent to the achievement of national and…

1 February 2024 Erica Smith

Alona Pardo, Re/Sisters: A Lens on Gender and Ecology: Prestel, 2023, 320pp; £45 Women in Revolt!: Art and Activism in the UK 1970 – 90: Tate Britain; until 7 April; £17/£5; Linsey Youngl, Women in Revolt!: Art and Activism in the UK 1970 – 90: Tate Publishing, 2023; 304pp; £35

When I was 14, in the winter of 1978, I travelled down to London from the north-west with my mum to see the Dada and Surrealism Reviewed exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. It remains my number one gallery experience.

45 years later, not one but two seminal feminist exhibitions in London have elbowed their way into my all-time gallery Top 10.

The last edition of PN profiled the remarkable Re/Sisters exhibition at the Barbican, which closed on 14 January. You can still order the catalogue from your…

1 December 2023 Cath and Warren Draper

PM Press, 2023; 576pp; £23.99

In the poorest state of the US, with the largest Black population and a long, terrifying history of extreme racial violence, there is a truly inspirational movement towards political, cultural and economic democracy.

For the last decade Cooperation Jackson (CJ), based in Jackson, Mississippi, has been accessing land for food and housing, building a network of worker co-operatives, and creating autonomous People’s Assemblies in order to take back power and build grassroots democracy.

This book is a collection of nearly 40…

1 December 2023 Ian Sinclair

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 secondary sources, he focuses in on the US’s…

1 December 2023 Gabriel Carlyle

Verso, 2023; 368pp; £19.99

The now-obscure term ‘Natopolitan’ appears to have been coined by the British Marxist historian EP Thompson in the late 1970s.

It referred not just to NATO proper, but also (in a later gloss by Edward Said) to ‘a mentality whose web extended over a lot more activity and thought’.

This reader on post-Cold War NATO – pieces range in date from 1994 to 2023 – examines both, but its core material focuses on three main topics: NATO’s massive expansion following the collapse of the enemy that it was ostensibly created to counter;…

1 October 2023 Henrietta Cullinan

Gallery 46, 46 Ashfield St, London E1 2AJ, 11 – 17 September

At Gallery 46, a carefully renovated Georgian house in Whitechapel, curator Zayna Al-Saleh has gathered big names in art activism such as Vivienne Westwood, Gavin Turk, Adam Broomberg and Jeremy Deller.

Far from street protest, where Art the Arms Fair has its roots, some pieces are expected to fetch tens of thousands of pounds at auction.

Just as the DSEI arms fair four miles away offers luxurious hospitality to its corporate and military clients, this exhibition comments, with irony or not, on the art world, a luxury business…

1 October 2023 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Torva 2023; 272pp; £16.99

In this book, Graham Smith argues that the assumptions that allow monarchy to continue – that it is popular, profitable and does no real harm – are all false.

Beginning with ‘profitable’, Smith tackles royal tourism, patronage and schedules.

Not only is the monarchy not good for tourism (an oft-quoted figure that it generates £500mn a year in tourism revenue has long been debunked), but the royals are also phenomenally expensive, costing taxpayers around £345mn a year.

But even if the monarchy made a profit (which it…

1 October 2023 Henrietta Cullinan

Fernwood Publishing 2023; 240pp; £15.99

I first joined Women in Black (WiB) after the pandemic when people were still cautious about gathering.

Every Wednesday, we stand for an hour at the foot of the Edith Cavell statue in Central London. The passers-by are tourists, school trips, commuters in suits, daredevil cyclists, people dressed-up for a night out, theatre-goers, street homeless.

A few, usually men, react strongly to our standing there, apparently affronted by our call for an end to militarism and war.

Of interest to all peacemakers, this book is both…

1 October 2023 Penny Stone

PM Press, 2023; 192pp; £15.99  

‘A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when it lands there, it looks out and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.’ – Oscar Wilde

This is one of three quotes from different thinkers that opens Leon Rosselson’s new book, which combines a 130-page memoir with a long-form interview by fellow songwriter Robb Johnson.

In short: if you like Rosselson’s songs, you’ll like this book…

1 October 2023 David Gee

Pluto Press, 2022; 208pp; £14.99

This perceptive book sets out to release our intimate relationships from the economic forces that twist them out of shape. From the medicalisation of mental health to the truncated kinship of the nuclear family and even the commodification of funeral rites, Rosa traces the long arm of a profit motive run rampant, bending our everyday lives to its will.

How to respond?

With revolutionary politics, Rosa argues, but also by trying to step out of self-defeating structures of belonging.

Ditch that dream – in every sense…

1 October 2023 Erica Smith

Cheerio Publishing, 2023; 240pp; £30

The blurb of this book is a short hand-written note by the artist. It ends by saying: ‘It will bring you good luck and help you do sex better.’

That’s exactly the kind of schoolboy humour – from the biro of a white, 57-year-old man who was educated at Dulwich College with Nigel Farage – that might put a Peace News reader right off.

But I recommend that you put your prejudices aside, turn the book over and have a leaf through the pages, which document over 30 years of funny, thought-provoking and revolutionary visual…

1 October 2023 Ian Sinclair

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, having lost its voice during the Vietnam War, re-…