Reviews

1 September 2001 Simon Dixon

Pluto Press, 2000. ISBN 0 7453 1542 9 (Paperback) 188pp

While I was reading this book, the north of England saw some of the worst race riots in Britain for over a decade. In the lead-up to the recent General Election, main-stream politicians competed with one another to see who could produce the most right-wing immigration policies. In Oldham,one of the cities worst hit by the race riots, the leader of the far-right British National Party polled just under 15% of the vote. It is for these reasons that Teresa Hayter's book could not havebeen published at a better time.

Broadly speaking,…

1 June 2001 Simon Dixon

Praeger, 2000. ISBN 0 275 96859 6. 264 pages, 14 photos. $24.95.

Love them or loathe them, the James Bond films and novels comprise one of the most significant British cultural phenomena of the last fifty years.

For Black, among the central themes are the impact of the Second World War upon western culture, the declining importance of Britain on the world stage and changing relations between the west and Russia. He also gives a great deal of consideration to changing attitudes towards gender, race and ethnicity throughout the period.

In a perceptive chapter dealing with gender and sexual…

1 June 2001 Sarah Irving

Latin America Bureau, 2000. ISBN 1 899365 30 3. £8.99

This is a book to make you cry with pain or inspiration and joy. Some of the testimonies in it come from the depths of a misery that drives young women, just starting out in life, to declare that “we prefer to die fighting than because of cholera or dysentery”.

Others speak of the incredible strength and determination of women rejecting their traditional roles in order to struggle against poverty, domestic and political violence, the absence of healthcare and education. Mention of the Zapatistas usually conjures up images of…

1 June 2001 Sian Jones

Zed Books 2000, 246 pp. ISBN 1 85649 656 2

In a volume that ranges the whole spectrum of violence against women – from the state to the domestic – States of Conflict presents a snapshot of recent feminist research on gender and violence.

But though the global view presented and the varied perspectives they employed was refreshing, my overall feeling was that the diverse approach ultimately combined to give the general reader little more than an introduction to, rather than an overall analysis of, women's responses to and experience of violence. The quality of the chapters…

1 June 2001 Andrew Rigby

Saqi Books, 2000. ISBN 0 86356 043. 294 pp

Over recent years, writings on gender in the Middle East have tended to focus on the status of women under Islam. The contributors to this volume, by contrast, explore the manner in which male identities are created and reproduced in different societies and settings within the Middle East.

What the contributors share is the basic assumption that masculinity is socially constructed, there is no fixed determinant of “male-ness”. What surprised me in reading some of the accounts of how masculinity is constructed in key situations is…

1 June 2001 Theresa Wolfwood

The Women's Press Ltd, 2000

Dr Bertell believes it is vital for peace workers to be responsible for communicating knowledge, in every way possible, and also to be willing to seek out information, particularly from those most affected by policies and events. This book is a major contribution to this important exchange.

In Planet Earth, the internationally respected scientist states that the most urgent problem facing humanity really is how to sustain Earth, our life-support system. She goes on to say that we need to find a new model of global organisation, not…

1 June 2001 Steve Dorney

Artificial Eye Film Co, France 1998, UK video release 2000. Running time 90 mins [French with English subtitles].

A dreamlike account of dysfunctional life in the modern French Foreign Legion. Stuck in Marseilles after being cast out from his beloved military “family”, Staff Sergeant Galoup recalls his time in Djibouti as a sun-baked idyll.

From Galoup's remembered perspective the East African landscape seems to be populated with happy, compliant locals and the eroticised bodies of legionnaires. But as Galoup himself says, “viewpoints count”, and this nostalgia-laden view of the post-colonial world is slowly unpicked as the film progresses. The…

1 June 2001 Sian Jones

University of California Press, 2000. 418 pp

Here's the short review – read this book! And just in case you need more persuasion, here are some reasons why.

Cynthia Enloe has probably been the most consistent analyst of gender and militarism over the past decade; the scope of her analysis is wide-ranging, yet her argument is focused and powerful; and unlike many other writers, she really does address gender, rather than merely documenting women's experience.

Though the subjects of each chapter – the mothers buying a can of Star Wars soup, the “camp followers”, the…

1 June 2001 Rose Lindsey

Zed Books, 1998, 247 pp. £14.95/$25.00 (paper)

Cynthia Cockburn's book draws on three case studies to examine how women of differing ethnicities, living in conflict zones, work together within an NGO setting, to achieve better conditions for women within their communities.

The three case studies she uses are: the Women's Support Network, Belfast, Northern Ireland; Bat Shalom of Megiddo, Nazareth and the Valleys, Israel and Palestine; and Medica Women's Therapy Centre, Zenica, central Bosnia.

In her introductory chapter “Women and Nationalism” Cockburn identifies the focus…

1 June 2001 Andrew Rigby

E & FN Spon, 2000, published in Canada and US by Routledge. ISBN 0 419 24670 3, 305pp.

More than twenty years ago Dennis Hardy wrote a great book on alternative communities in 19th century England which is now out of print. He has now written a “sequel”, a history of community experiments in England during the first half of the 20th century.

This new book bears some of the stylistic hallmarks of the earlier one: it is written with deep sympathy for the pioneers and their projects. The text is complemented by a host of photographs and other illustrations that help bring the subject matter alive, and the author succeeds…

1 January 2001 Theresa Wolfwood

Common Courage Press 2000. $16.95 - or send US$18 direct to W Blum, #707, 5100 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008-2064, USA for a post-paid autographed copy

This is a guide to a trip every activist should take. There is, of course, only one rogue state -the United States of America. Any evil deed of the US that an activist can imagine in the wildest of paranoid dreams is described and referenced in this comprehensive guide by Blum, a journalist and ex-US State Department official.

In spite of the efforts of US leaders to make their actions appear humanitarian and democratic, Blum makes it clear that the US has run a global protection racket based on four imperatives: making the world…

1 January 2001 Janet Kilburn

Published by War Resisters League, 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012, USA. tel +1 212 228 0450; fax 228 6193; email wrl@igc.org. Price £8.99 from Housmans

As an antimilitarist and probably a feminist, I rather liked this diary. While it has, in some ways, quite a US orientation (national holidays, significant events, the relationship between days and dates etc), it is still perfectly usable for anyone using the Christian-derived calendar.

It has a one week to a page display, plus a directory of WRI members, and a list of national (US) peace organisations and publications. However I think the best thing about this diary is the profiles of 57 radical women from around the world who have…

1 January 2001 Sarah Irving

Firebrand Books, New York, 184pp. ISBN 1 56341 124 5. US$12.95

It's hard to know what the objective of this book is. The title and blurb make it sound like a book on women on death row. Actually, it's Kathleen O'Shea's autobiography, interspersed at paragraph intervals with excerpts from interviews with ten other women, all ofthem on death row in the USA.

When this format works it is very powerful; often it is a harrowing reminder that the social and psychological forces which result in some women - innocent or guilty - ending up on death row are absolutely the same as those which touch the…

1 January 2001 Ippy D

AK Press/Alternative Tentacles, spoken-word CD, 54 mins. Available from radical bookshops, or see http://www.akpress.org or http://www.alternativetentacles.com

This interesting, engaging and often humorous CD is the edited recording of a lecture given in the summer of 1997 at Colorado College in the US by radical activist and academic Angela Davis.

At the core of this fairly simple lecture is the exposing of links between capitalism, racism and the prison system - and this is done fairly eloquently on the whole.

Drawing on her own prison experience and the experiences of her friends and comrades, combined with a professed ex-communist turned-socialist, feminist analysis, Davis…

1 January 2001 Sian Jones

Syracuse University Press, 2000. 217pp, ISBN 0 8156 0602 8

Alice Ackerman's case for the Republic of Macedonia, as a rare - if not unique - example of conflict prevention by preventative diplomacy, makes a welcome addition to a relatively small body of literature which looks at how we can prevent war.

By way of introduction, she includes a brief survey of preventative diplomacy - and its critics - from cold-war attempts by the UN to keep the superpowers out of local conflicts, to the Boutros Ghali doctrine of preconflict prevention and early warning. With a chapter on case studies in which…