1 June 2023 Gabriel Carlyle

 Sublation Press, 2023; 544pp; £24.70

Longtime PN readers will know that I’ve long been a fan of Norman Finkelstein’s work. Nonetheless, I almost didn’t read this book.

I’d seen Finkelstein online recently, defending the moral (if not the legal) ‘right’ of Russia to invade Ukraine and raging about pronouns (‘Whenever I see he/ him or she/her, I think fuck/you’). And, frankly, I wondered if he’d lost the plot.

But I’m glad that I tracked his new book down and (with some qualifications that I’ll come to) would strongly recommend it to others.


1 June 2023 Ian Sinclair

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 open space in the London area, visited by millions…

2 April 2023 Emily Johns

30 minutes; premiered at the Unlimited festival, London’s Southbank Centre last September, now touring  

Having a bath will never be the same again after experiencing Thirst Trap, an affecting piece of audio theatre which takes place in your own bathroom.

I received a black box from the postman. It puzzled me – here was a conventional home spa kit: the bath bomb, the candle, the tea sachet. I thought I had been sent a marketing gimmick by a company called Ray Young wanting to sell me something.

Eventually, by sleuthing on the internet, I realised the box was my entry into a performance, but I didn’t yet know that it led…

2 April 2023 Henrietta Cullinan

Fortress Press, 2022; 190pp; £14.99  

In this book, the author investigates how self-identifying Christians, followers of Jesus’ message of peace and compassion, can follow a nationalist movement that is inherently violent and racist.

Using her knowledge of political psychology and an understanding of the history of Christianity and evangelism in the US, Pamela Cooper-White tackles this wide-ranging, complex topic with the purpose of outlining the possibilities for change.

Christian Nationalism is defined by researchers Whitehead and Perry, quoted here, as a ‘…

2 April 2023 Andrea Needham

Proving Ground Media;

In the first episode of this podcast, one of the three presenters asks why we need a war on cars – and more specifically, a ‘War on Cars’ podcast.

In reply, presenter Sarah Goodyear describes an incident when she was cycling to the studio that day and was almost flattened by an SUV driver steaming through a stop sign.

When Goodyear remonstrated with the driver, she received outraged abuse: ‘You shouldn’t even be in the fucking street!’ Her conclusion? ‘I gotta talk about this shit.’

And talking about this shit – our…

2 April 2023 Gabriel Carlyle

Cambridge University Press, 2023; 454pp; £11.99

This book explains how we could use existing technologies, such as wind turbines and heat pumps, to create a worldwide energy system based entirely on wind, water (tides and waves) and solar power (WWS).

Such a system would help solve three major crises: the air pollution crisis (which currently claims some seven million lives a year); global warming (overwhelmingly caused by fossil fuels); and energy insecurity (dramatically illustrated in the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine).

It would also be considerably (63…

2 April 2023 Emily Johns

Repeater Books, 2022; 492pp; £16.99

Vron Ware is exactly the sort of person I would like to go for a walk with. She picks at the landscape, sifts it through a geographer’s mind, looks at a gate, a fingerpost, and unravels a social history of land.

In Return of a Native, she brings an adulthood of feminist, anti-racist, anti-militarist scholarship and activism back to her childhood village in (North) Hampshire and examines the forces that made the place and which play out across the flinty chalklands of Pill Heath today.

The book is written and presented…

2 April 2023 Erica Smith

Darton, Longman & Tidd, 2021; 160pp; £11.95  

If these uncertain times are wearing you down and you are feeling hope-less (or someone you know is), then this small book offers an opportunity for you to face the darkness, meditate on hope and re-kindle the burnt-out activist.

David Gee is a writer with a special interest in the meaning of hope in the face of global crises. Since 2008, he has written reports and books about recruitment and employment in the armed forces, peace education and children’s rights.

Hope’s Work, a series of short essays, introduces us to…

2 April 2023 Ian Sinclair

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.


‘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, logistics and communications, that will surely be of…

1 February 2023 Andrea Needham

Verso 2022; 272pp; £14.99

Paris Marx is a Canadian tech writer and host of the 'Tech Won't Save Us' podcast – a view which more or less sums up this enraging and englightening book. Electric cars, autonomous cars, ridesharing apps, Elon Musk's tunnels, beyond-batshit ideas like flying cars. What do they all have in common? They're 'solutions' to our transport problems dreamt up by men who have no interest in the vital issue of how we do transport such that it is equitable, safe, affordable and low-carbon. What they want is shiny and profitable 'tech' solutions aimed…

1 February 2023 Gabriel Carlyle

OR Books, 2022; 198pp; £12.99

At the outset of this short book, Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies note that the complex nature of the conflict in Ukraine has ‘made it particularly confusing and difficult for the Western peace movement’ to respond to, with many citizens of NATO countries ‘largely oblivious to their own governments’ share of responsibility for the crisis and the carnage’.

Moreover, according to former US assistant secretary of defence Chas Freeman, the war in Ukraine is also now ‘the most intense information war humanity has ever seen. There are so…

1 February 2023 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Till 8 April, Charing Cross Theatre, The Arches, Villiers St, London WC2N 6NL £23 – £83; 08444 930 650; (4pm – 8pm);

In 1942 the American government forcibly relocated and imprisoned at least 125,284 of its own citizens, purely on the basis that they were Japanese-Americans. Among them was five year old George Takei and his family. Known to the world as Star Trek’s original Mr Sulu, and in recent years as an LGBTQ+ activist who has also brought joy to the internet with his catchphrase ‘Oh Myyyy!’, George’s boyhood experiences inspired Allegiance.

The story follows the Kimura family as they are forced from their California farm to the Heart…

1 February 2023 Henrietta Cullinan

Simon & Schuster, 2022; 304 pp; £14.99

Having campaigned for many years against nuclear weapons and the arms trade, I have often wondered how I would react to a violent attack on me or my family. I was drawn to this book in a search for what I see as the hardest kind of peace activism: to understand forgiveness among individuals.

In the prologue, Marina Cantacuzino explains that she chose storytelling as a tool with which to resist the mainstream narrative of redemptive violence during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In this book, the result of over 20 years of…

1 February 2023 Emily Johns

127 House, 2022; 148pp; £10 Available in the UK (for £11 incl p&p) from Jim Huggon, 59 Leiston Road, Knodishall, Suffolk, 1P17 1WQ. In the US, it’s $12.50 (plus p&p) from Trevor Blake, PO Box 3, Columbus, IN 47202, USA;

Peace News once organised an activist training in which the participants had to stand on a stepladder in Tavistock Square and deliver a speech to the passers-by.

It is a skill that people with a political opinion should have. But these days, few do.

Many quail at the simple political tool of door-knocking.

The Speakers’ Corner Anthology is a collection of writings about the famous Tyburn corner of London’s Hyde Park, by Marble Arch. There, since the mid-nineteenth century, speech-making has been…

1 February 2023 Ian Sinclair

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 endemic to the structures and systems’ of the British…