1 December 2001 Sarah Irving

Routledge 2000. ISBN 0 415242460, £17.99

As an individual involved in nonviolent direct action, I'm often suspicious of academic books about activism. What purpose do they serve? They are too often "studies of" rather then any advancement of debates or ideas.

They seem to have little effect in informing the mainstream press or persuading them to be any more open or honest in what they write - as seen in media coverage of the Mayday "riots", which became "riots" some weeks before they actually took place. And the…

1 December 2001 Andrew Rigby

James Currey, 2001. ISBN 0 85255 859 7, 364 pp, £19.95 p/b

I had a Rwandan student who told me that during the genocide of 1994 husbands in cross-community marriages would kill their wives (and vice-versa). It is beyond imagining. This was not some bureaucratically organised, impersonal, rational process like the Holocaust of the Second World War. This was a genuinely popular genocide.

What most of us cannot understand is how it came about that hundreds of thousands of people who had never killed before took part in the mass slaughter. It is to Mamdani's credit that he does make the…

1 December 2001 Maggie Helwig

Hyperion East, 1999. ISBN 0 7868 6416 8, 375 pp

On the night of 13 October 1965, the Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer was working at home; his family had already moved, for their own safety, to his mother-in-law's house.

Around 10.30 pm, a crowd gathered outside and began to throw stones at the house. Police officers and soldiers arrived, telling Pram that they had come to “take him to safety”. Instead, he was taken to the Army Reserve Strategic Command Post.

He was held in a variety of prisons until 1969, when he was shipped to the prison island of Buru - an…

1 December 2001 Melanie Jarman

Mother Tongue Ink,, US$12.95.

We'moon on the Wall is a full colour, beautifully illustrated, month at a glance lunar calendar. With “Priestessing the Earth” as its theme, the 2002 version celebrates the work that women are doing all over the world to heal and tend the Earth, to empower women, and to make the world a safer place.

This focus on women's activity draws together the calendar’s poetry and exquisite pictures – the burst of gold that heralds July's “Sun Priestess”; the dynamism of March's “Amazon Warriors of the Bronze Age”; the power in the flow of…

1 December 2001 Simon Dixon

William Sessions Ltd, 2001. ISBN 1 85072 261 7, 76pp

Appearing in English for the first time, this fascinating little book tells the story of Nikolai Trofimovich Iziumchenko (1867-1927), a peasant conscript to the Imperial Russian Army whose Tolstoyan beliefs led to his two-year imprisonment in a penal battalion.

Following a short, and informative, introduction from the book's editors, Iziumchenko's story is reproduced in translation with minimal annotation, making the account both accessible and readable for those with no prior knowledge of nineteenth-century Russian history or the…

1 December 2001 Martyn Lowe

3rd Edition, July 2001. ISBN 1492 4234, 114 pp, A4 spiral bound

This is a very useful work, which includes a 76-page bibliography that might well be described as an essential reading list for radicals.

The most useful part of this publication is devoted to directory of radical periodicals, which provides not just contact details, but also descriptions of what political issues they cover. However, these are mostly Canadian, US and British periodicals.

Many of them will already be well known amongst North American activists. For example: Adbusters, Nonviolent Activist and The Nuclear…

1 September 2001 Martyn Lowe

House of Stratus, 2000. ISBN 1 84232 071 8

Here is an interesting question for you: how does the military protect its soldiers from chemical weapons? The answer, of course, is by exposing them to these toxic gases in “controlled” experiments, as “human guinea pigs”.

Since the British Government opened the “chemical warfare experimental establishment” at Porton Down in 1916, it is estimated that some 30,000 military personnel have been used in such tests.

Porton scientists also conducted these test on themselves. Tests that included giving themselves doses of…

1 September 2001 Roberta Bacic

Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2001. ISBN 1 55587 960 8 (paper) and ISBN 1 55587 986 1. 207 pp

The twentieth century has ended up with a dark account of violence and of wars all over the world. After the horrors of World War II it seemed that the situation had to change, that it was not possible to continue with the way things were going. Looking back, clearly it was able go on.

Quite a long time ago we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the International Human Rights Declaration. Amnesty International's report for 2001 says that - according to the information they have been able to gather during 2001 - there were…

1 September 2001 Ippy D

72 mins, audio CD; See

This is Consolidated's seventh full-length studio album, and while perhaps their most musically diverse,certain political themes remain a constant feature of all their work.

It's a musical journey which touches on blues, rock, industrial and hiphop. The End of Meaning has several outstanding tracks: I rather liked the shambling hip-hop of You Go Dude; the anti-porn rant of Speech and Harm ; and the industrial intensity of Fall of the Culture Industry . A sprinkling of snippets from demos, actions…

1 September 2001 Juliet McBride

Pluto Press 2001. ISBN 0 7453 1452.135 pages

Though a relatively short book, this is a dense and scholarly work. It attempts to contextualise human rights within a three-fold setting - the philosophical, the legal and the political - with the emphasis on the latter, and usually least acknowledged, area.

It is a book which needs careful reading since it condenses many of the current and past theories in international relations, and critiques them in the light of the new era of globalisation, whilst never losing sight of what actually happens on the ground.

The basic…

1 September 2001 Alan Paxton

Green Books, 2000. ISBN 1 870098 92 7. 299pp. £10.95

“We started in a small way, but now this has snowballed to an extent where you don't know what will happen next....” (Guardian Weekly, 14 September 2000). It was one of the most successful protests in Britain for years, causing severe disruption to road and rail transport. Within two months the government was making concessions to the protesters' demands - lower taxes on road vehicles and their fuel.

Resistance and empowerment are sometimes commanded by activists almost as ends in themselves. But are some forms of empowerment right…

1 September 2001 Andreas Speck

New Society Publishers 2001. ISBN 0 86571 418 5. 256 pp

This book is long overdue. Since Bill Moyer developed the Movement Action Plan (MAP) in the early 1980s, it has only been available in newspaper format, and in two separate parts. Doing Democracy now not only presents the entire MAP, it also includes five case studies, showing how MAP can help in analysing a movement.

The first time I heard about MAP was probably at a seminar in 1993. The eight stages and four roles of social movements then proved to be very helpful in understanding the position of the small environmental movement I…

1 September 2001 Carol Rank

Zed Books, London, in association with Responding to Conflict, Birmingham, 2000. ISBN 1 85649 837 9. 185 pp

The organisation Responding to Conflict, based in Birmingham, Britain, which produced this excel-lent resource-guide, recently had its tenth anniversary celebration.

This book is based on what all the people coming to their courses over the years have learned. As described by Simon Fisher, founder and director of Responding to Conflict, the aim of the organisation and of this book is to help people solve their own problems, and in that it succeeds very well.

It is mainly oriented toward people working in “middle-level”…

1 September 2001 Loukas Christodoulou

Earthscan, 2000. ISBN 1 853836 12 5. 290pp £10.99

This is a revolutionary book; but Colin Hines doesn't believe in revolution.

The book's main point - that capitalist globalisation of the economy must be replaced by business and production based on the local - is a radical one, but he does not see a social shake-up on the cards.

Most of his argument seems to be directed at the supporters of the free market to convince them that localisation is necessary and possible. Chapter titles such as “Localisation will Bale Out the Market” stake out the position of the former…

1 September 2001 Trevor Curnow

Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0 415 24998 8, 660 pp, £25

In September 1961, at the age o f89, Bertrand Russell was sent to prison. He had been prosecuted for his involvement in the demonstrations against nuclear weapons organised by the Committee of 100. If a sentence of one week (reduced from two months on health grounds) was scarcely sufficient to make him a martyr, it was enough to cement his international reputation as a crusader for peace.

That crusade had begun for him as early as the First World War, when he had been a conscientious objector. His pacifist activities then had also…