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…

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…