1 December 2022 Henrietta Cullinan

Penguin, 2022; 720pp; £12.99

Often playful and accessible in style, The Dawn of Everything guides readers on an ambitious intellectual adventure through thousands of years and across continents. Open the book at any page and you will instantly get drawn into fascinating accounts of states that are not states, vanishing cities, kings with no authority, clown policemen and other lively confusions.

In Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of Inequality among Mankind (1754), Jean-Jacques Rousseau saw human history as a fall from grace from the…

1 December 2022 Gabriel Carlyle

Mariner Books, 2022; 432pp; $29.99    

Adam Hochschild’s latest book tells the story of the extraordinary wave of repression that took place in the US during the years 1917 – 1921.

Brilliantly told, it’s ‘a story of mass imprisonments, torture, vigilante violence, censorship [and] killings of Black Americans’, kickstarted by the USA’s formal entry into the First World War in April 1917.

But it’s also the story of incredible bravery and resilience on the part of those who resisted this madness.

Then-US president Woodrow Wilson claimed that the US had had its…

1 December 2022 Milan Rai

Hurst, 2022; 270pp; £14.99

Why would a Nigerian philosopher be against decolonisation? Olúfémi Táíwò explains that, in Africa, ‘decolonisation’ means two very different things.

Decolonisation1 is simple: a colony gains its independence and becomes self-governing.

Decolonisation2, on the other hand, means the ex-colony throwing out ‘any and every cultural, political, intellectual, social and linguistic artefact, idea, process, institution and practice that retains even the slightest whiff of the colonial past’.

This includes: ‘liberal…

1 December 2022 Muzammal Hussain

Pluto Press, 2022; 352pp; £19.99

This book shakes things up!

It also opens a space for dialogue, welcoming Muslims, anarchists and anyone engaged with creating a just, peaceful world.

It attempts to offer a vision for building a community of mutual partnership, as an alternative to nation-state structures, capitalist or otherwise. Such a community is inclusive of diverse faiths and spiritualities and grounded in shared, lived, ethico-political values. It also engages with justice in relation to indigenous land.

So, what of Islam and anarchism – two…

1 December 2022 Ian Sinclair

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’ reports unearthed by Freedom of Information lawsuits…

1 December 2022 Ian Sinclair

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 American public relations (PR) and American…

1 October 2022 Gabriel Carlyle

Ban the bomb!: Ibidem, 2021; 290pp; £26  Rebel verdict: Irene, 2022; 512pp; £25.50 from or £22.50 (+ p&p if ordering) from Housmans bookshop:

Among the first books I read when I got involved in the peace movement in the late 1990s, three were by Michael Randle: Civil resistance (on the history, theory and practice of nonviolence), How to defend yourself in court (a useful instructional) and The Blake Escape (co-authored with Pat Pottle, their thrilling account of how and why they helped to break superspy George Blake out of Wormwood Scrubs prison and smuggle him out of the country).

Unhappily all three of these excellent works now appear to be…

1 October 2022 Henrietta Cullinan

 Verso, 2022; 400pp; £20

It is challenging and frustrating to read in this book about the efforts nations have put into making war more palatable.

For most people, the idea of a ‘humane’ war is a contradiction in terms, particularly now as we watch Putin’s aggressive war in Ukraine unfold. Samuel Moyn quotes the Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz: ‘The fact that slaughter is a horrifying spectacle must make us take war more seriously.’

Clausewitz also warned that laws on the conduct of war could swiftly be broken by a desperate…

1 October 2022 Andrea Needham

Scribe Publications 2022; 288pp; £12.99

I am raging.

Everywhere I go, on foot or on my bike, I am assailed by cars.

Huge cars. Stinking cars. Cars driven by maniacs.

My town is full of cars, and there is a single priority on every road: to maximise the convenience of motorists, never mind the convenience – far less the safety – of other road users.

I have to walk long distances to cross a road because traffic engineers have put up railings to stop me crossing where I want. I have to wait ages at traffic lights because there’s a long phase for motorists…

1 October 2022 Virginia Moffatt

Pen & Sword, 2022; 272pp; £25

Symon Hill’s impressively comprehensive history of the modern UK peace movement takes us from the moment in 1980 when Ann Pettit had the idea of a women’s walk to Greenham to the 2021 supreme court Ziegler ruling which quashed the conviction of four protesters who blockaded the DSEI arms fair in London.

In between, The Peace Protestors maps the growth of peace camps in the 1980s, the Falklands/Malvinas War, the Ploughshares Movement, Robin Cook’s doomed ethical foreign policy, 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, court cases,…

1 October 2022 Pascal Ansell

Zed, 2019; 208pp; £9.99 

None of us will ever travel to North Korea. We read about the regime and its atrocities, but far away from our information-saturated lives, what could it mean to exist on the other side? Poetry is literature's most condensed form, and in such concentrated doses we begin to get a taste of daily life under Kim Jong-il's regime, one of a permanent, colourless winter. 

These 51 poems find themselves melting onto our desks, each one desperate to be read. They are written by Bandi, the pseudonym of a dissident writer whose work has been…

1 August 2022 Eve Wedderburn

Jerwood Space, 171 Union Street, Southwark London, SE1 0LN Leeds Art Gallery, 18 November 2022 – 22 January 2023  

The Jerwood Space is the kind of space you invent in one of those Why-Don't-They conversations that regularly happen amongst frustrated utopians with artistic leanings. Beautifully housed in a refurbished Victorian school, it is mixed space of rehearsal rooms, gallery space, studio space, rehearsal rooms and hipster café. Every inch of it is thoughtful and reflective; even the café seems to have caught the self-reflective practice vibe, announcing: NO INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES. JUST GOOD COFFEE. It is its own Platonic essence of East London arts…

1 August 2022 Erica Smith

Ebury, 2022; 400pp; £20

Five women give first-hand accounts of four undercover police spies who targeted them between 1987 and 2010. It is gripping and sickening to learn the extent of abuse that these women – and others – experienced. The format of the book involves short, dated sections from each of the five women, so that their stories are woven together. This can be confusing at times but it keeps the reader’s focus on the progress of their grooming, gaslighting and ghosting – and on their partial victory against the long-term abuse and misogyny of the…

1 August 2022 Gabriel Carlyle

Verso, 2017; 224pp; £17.99

Sometimes you discover a book which you just can’t believe slipped past you when it was published.

Marcus Rediker’s 2002 book The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (co-authored with Peter Linebaugh) has become a modern classic. So how could anyone with an interest in radical history fail to spot the publication of a new book by him – let alone one with this book’s subtitle?

Fortunately, it’s not too late to correct this oversight.

Given the prominent role played by Quakers in…

1 August 2022 Erica Smith

The Sentinel Publishing, 2021; 212pp; £9.99

Ted Parker was a working-class boy born in bomb-blasted Folkestone in 1942. His father was an army dispatch rider in the Second World War who died of Hodgkinson’s disease when Ted was eight. His mother was left to bring up two children alone and scraped a living as a cleaner in an army base.

When Ted was 13, she remarried and her new husband bought Ted his first guitar. Folk music and rock’n’roll remained important throughout Ted’s personal and political life. He did not do well at school and at 16 signed up, with his parents’…