1 April 2022 Gabriel Carlyle

Declassified UK, 2021; 26m; available on YouTube:

In their classic 1988 book Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky write that: ‘A propaganda system will consistently portray people abused by enemy states as worthy victims, whereas those treated with equal or greater severity by its own government or clients will be unworthy. The evidence of worth may be read from the extent and character of attention and indignation.... While this differential treatment occurs on a large scale, the media, intellectuals, and public are able to remain unconscious of…

1 April 2022 Callum Alexander Scott

Seven Stories, 2021; 256pp; £15.99

Kaufman, a documentary producer who works at the Office of Open Learning at MIT (the top science and technology university in the US), begins by establishing what he calls the ‘Monsterverse’. This is a somewhat vague but playful concept that covers all of the interests (both state and private) engaged in a ‘relentless effort to crush freedom of thought, independent thinking, expertise’ and the general spread of ‘free access to knowledge’.

Kaufman explores a number of historical battles with the Monsterverse, from William Tyndale’s…

1 April 2022 Ian Sinclair

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.’

Part of Pluto Press’s Outspoken series,

1 April 2022 Milan Rai

Pluto Press, 2021; 336pp; £19.99 (use discount code ‘PEACENEWS20’ to get 20 percent off at the Pluto Press webshop – offer valid until 30 April)

In the first year of COVID-19, while most of us were watching too much TV and just trying to stay sane, Paul Rogers was revising and rewriting his classic book on global security, Losing Control, to create this updated, enriched and unmissable fourth edition.

Among other things, he added a powerful new section on COVID-19 and the ‘lethally slow’ response of the UK. As part of this section, Rogers criticises the British government’s decision in late 2020 to pre-empt an ongoing defence and security review by increasing…

1 February 2022 Pascal Ansell

Zed Books, 2021; 288pp; £12.99

An island nation cowering below its gargantuan big brother China, the Taiwanese have been 'robbed of a fundamental part of their identity'. Its fascinating paradox lies in the fact many Taiwanese consider themselves more Chinese than China itself.

Taiwan was never even meant to be its own independent entity. During the Chinese Civil War (1927 - 1949), Mao's opponent Chiang Kai-Shek was exiled to the South Sea island formerly known as Formosa – the name given to it by the Portuguese. They never expected to stay long, and today's…

1 February 2022 Henrietta Cullinan

Hamish Hamilton, 2021; 208pp; £14.99

Recently, Love Island star Molly Mae was forced to apologise after promoting her pet theory that ‘everyone has the same 24 hours in a day’ and so can achieve their goals. Her inept blindness to inequality and poverty is a good popular example of the topic of this book: Zakaria defines white feminism as those parts of feminism that claim to speak for all women, but which neglect to acknowledge the racially privileged positions that its proponents both assume and occupy.

Pointing to the divide between feminist theorists and…

1 February 2022 Andrew Bolton

University Press of Kansas, 2021; 200pp; £27.50

Why read something from Kansas? How can anything be relevant to climate justice that comes out of a part of the USA that consistently votes Republican, and where school boards regularly try to enforce the teaching of creationism by science teachers? For 20 years, I lived just over the border in Missouri and, despite the conservative stereotypes, there are hopeful stories to be told coming out of Kansas. Wes Jackson is one of these. Jackson is a geneticist and ecologist who grew up on the rich, fertile prairie soils of Kansas, where family…

1 February 2022 Matthew Behrens

Netflix, 2021; 138 mins

As multiple crises rocked the globe at year’s end, social media burned up with a torrent of pugilistic partisan posts framed in a Bush-like purity test: were you with this trending Netflix film or were you against it?

I caved in to the combination of peer pressure and public health guidelines and watched Don’t Look Up – a comedy in which two astronomers attempt to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will destroy civilisation – only to wonder why so many were celebrating something that seemed to…

1 February 2022 Ian Sinclair

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).

With Civil Resistance, Chenoweth,…

1 February 2022 Gabriel Carlyle

Verso, 2021; 208pp; £9.99

If you haven’t been hiding under a rock for the last three years, you’ll probably have heard of ‘net zero’. This is the idea that, in order to address the climate crisis, we must rapidly bring about a balance between human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and human-caused removals of the same.

The best versions of net zero could be part of the solution and a instrument for climate justice.

However, as Holly Jean Buck argues in this timely work, the key issue is having a plan for managing the decline…

1 February 2022 Gabriel Carlyle

Granta, 2021; 272pp; £16.99

Before it went to the printers, Rebecca Solnit’s publishers tried to get her to add a subtitle to this book. She refused, on the reasonable grounds that, as a book about some roses that were grown by the author of 1984 and Animal Farm, it didn’t need one.

However, what might sound like a ridiculously narrow focus for a book, turns out to be anything but.

In a 1946 essay (‘A Good Word for the Vicar of Bray’) Orwell wrote about some inexpensive roses and fruit trees that he had planted 10 years earlier: ‘the…

1 December 2021 Andrew Bolton

Deseret Book Company, 2021; 288pp; £19.38

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, often known as ‘Mormonism’) has a strong war tradition, both in their additional scriptures and in their first years (1830 – 1844) on the frontier in the US, under the leadership of the founder of the church, Joseph Smith Jr.

Their violence continued after migration westward under Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, to what became Utah. It includes the Mountain Meadows massacre in 1857.

Mormons were encouraged to obey conscription in the First and Second World Wars and in the…

1 December 2021 Emma Sangster

Transnational Institute, 2021; 37pp; free, available at

The vast carbon emissions produced by the military are coming under increasing scrutiny. The UK ministry of defence (MoD) published a strategy on climate change earlier this year, outlining how it will reduce the carbon impact of 'defence' up to 2050.

However, there will still be no external or independent scrutiny of greenhouse gases produced by the military, as COP26 failed to ensure that they will be included in emissions targets.

Emissions are only one issue in terms of the relationship of the security forces to the…

1 December 2021 Gabriel Carlyle

Haymarket Books, 2021; 200pp; £16.99

Hard on the heels of her 2019 book about democracy (see PN 2644 – 2645), Astra Taylor’s latest work brings together 15 essays, mostly written during 2019 – 2020.

The topics covered range from US universities (where ‘racism, commerce and education have been bedfellows from the beginning’) and sexism in the tech industry, to debt abolition and the problem of gerontocracy (government by old people) in US politics.

Compulsively readable, Taylor draws on a wealth of material to enrich her thinking.

Thus, in a piece…

1 December 2021 Virginia Moffatt

Quaero Publishing, 2021; 300pp; £8.99

The recent decision by the US to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan has reminded the world of the last 20 years of failed US foreign policy in the region. We’ve all become so used to the ‘forever war’ that it is easy to forget that, before Afghanistan, before the wars in Iraq and Syria and the 2011 bombing of Libya, Reagan ordered air strikes on Libya in 1986.

Those raids (abetted by the UK, who allowed planes to take off from Lakenheath) allegedly struck at targets linked to terrorism. As is always the case, they resulted in the…