Reviews

1 June 2018 Gabriel Carlyle

PM Press, 2018; 128pp; $14

PM Press’s Outspoken Authors series continues with this showcase for the writing of the legendary science fiction (SF) writer and memoirist Samuel R. Delany, featuring the title novella, Delany’s famous 1998 essay ‘Racism in Science Fiction’, and an interview with Delany by series editor Terry Bisson.

Clocking-in at seventy-two pages, The Atheist in the Attic centres on the famous November 1676 meeting between the philosophers Leibniz and Spinoza (the latter the atheist of the title) in The Hague, recounted here in the…

1 June 2018 Esme Needham

Profile Books, 2017; 128pp; £7.99

After reading this book, at first I was confused about the title: there didn’t appear to be a manifesto in it at all. Then gradually it dawned on me – the entire book is a manifesto, and a powerful one.

Mary Beard makes so many deeply perceptive points throughout the book that I found myself memorising page numbers to refer back to in case I ever wanted to quote her on anything.

The book is divided into two sections, both of which are lectures she has given – the first, ‘The Public Voice of Women’, is about how women…

1 June 2018 Ian Sinclair

Peter Lang Publishing, 2017; 276pp; £29

‘The biggest immediate single problem we face… is mainstream media reporting’, British historian Mark Curtis recently argued in an Open Democracy interview about UK foreign policy.

Florian Zollmann’s deeply impressive first book – which expands on his PhD, supervised by Professor Richard Keeble – goes a long way in engaging with this long-running issue for peace activists.

‘The news media in liberal democracies operates as a propaganda system on behalf of state-corporate elite interests’, he argues, using Edward Herman…

1 June 2018 Arkady Johns

Verso, 2016; 320pp; £9.99

It used to be that, when someone told me about a way to increase my happiness, I would take it on board without thinking. This book has changed that.

Surveying a broad sweep of history – from the measurement of mood by economists in the 18th century, to our current state where information about individuals is stored on the assumption that it will be useful someday – Davies investigates how happiness has become both a political and an economic goal.

The anti-philosophical approach of contemporary psychology, and the…

1 June 2018 Henrietta Cullinan

Verso, 2017; 256pp; £9.99

This book will prompt gasps of recognition among peace activists, as they read of dramatic acts of mass civil disobedience, the use of affinity groups, and the underlying efforts to be equitable and inclusive during a time of reactionary politics.

The story begins with the Mayday protest of 1971, in which thousands of anti-war campaigners staged three days of protests in Washington DC with the aim of shutting down the US capital. Though ‘most slovenly’ according to one journalist, these actions unsettled the Nixon administration…

1 June 2018 Henrietta Cullinan

Zed Books, 2017; 384pp; £10.99

This book analyses contemporary struggles for social justice against the spinning backdrop of New Labour’s Cool Britannia. Using pop culture subjects such as the all-women pop group, the Spice Girls, the rebranding of the British royal family, the class war of Britpop, and the public reaction to the Young British Artists (YBAs), the author shows how, while New Labour celebrated the image of a visibly diverse, post-colonial Britain, in reality the roots of our present struggles for justice and equality were glossed over by skillful marketing…

1 June 2018 Gabriel Carlyle

PM Press, 2017; 128pp; $12.95

According to longtime activist and author Jeremy Brecher, ‘we are witnessing the birth of a global nonviolent constitutional insurgency’ to prevent catastrophic climate change. In this short and timely book he attempts to explain how and why this insurgency has emerged and seeks to ‘[lay] out a strategy for climate insurgents in the US’.

The ‘why’ of the insurgency is a relatively straightforward matter. PR aside, governments and corporations have thus far failed to take meaningful action on climate change – with the result that…

1 April 2018 Esme Needham

OR Books, 2018; 204pp; £13

In one of the last poems in this book, entitled ‘To the woman on St. Nicholas Avenue whose thigh was a wilderness blooming’, Ellen Hagan celebrates a woman she saw who had tattoos of flowers and trees all up her leg. She speaks of how uplifting the sight of this ‘garden of a woman’ was, and the poem is infused with a sense of the bravery this random stranger had – to show the world how she wanted to look, and who she wanted to be. I felt like this poem summed up everything joyous and essential in this collection of ‘poems for a new feminism…

1 April 2018 Erica Smith

FeedARead.com, 2017; 372pp; £8.99

This book is a singular account of a community of action which didn’t just witness history, but was instrumental in changing it: Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. 25 years on, life experiences can be forgotten, so I am grateful to Howard and Moulin for collecting these reminiscences for posterity.

Like the film Pulp Fiction, this book begins at the end – with an action in 1993 where 16 women climbed into the grounds of Buckingham Palace to condemn nuclear testing in the Nevada desert. And, like Adrian Mole, the author…

1 April 2018 Gabriel Carlyle

OR Books, 2017; 134pp; £12

It’s not always a good sign when the most frequent comment one finds oneself scrawling in the margins of a book is ‘Really?’

Anyone who hasn’t been asleep for the last five-plus years will be aware that today’s digital technologies – first and foremost the internet itself – present wide-ranging challenges to some of our most cherished rights and institutions. Mass government surveillance of the internet threatens our privacy. Google has built an unassailable and unaccountable monopoly off the back of its users’ data. Meanwhile,…

1 April 2018 Ian Sinclair

Routledge, 2017; 368pp; £32.99

Far from being simply a personal choice, our diet is deeply political.

As Dr Pamela Mason and professor Tim Lang explain, the spread of the standard Western diet has had devastating consequences for people and the planet. Worldwide, obesity has nearly doubled since 1980. Poor dietary patterns in rich nations have been the greatest contribution to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. ‘North America and Europe consume biological resources as though they inhabit multiple planets’, the authors note.…

1 April 2018 Andrea Needham

Imperial War Museum, London, to 28 May. £15/£10.50 (£7.50 under-16s).



Dolls at Dungeness September 11th 2001 © Grayson Perry / Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro, London / Photo Stephen Brayne 2001 Glazed ceramic

I wonder whether people who have been directly affected by the aftermath of 9/11 – in a way that most of those viewing this exhibition haven’t – would find parts of it baffling or even insulting

For example, if you had lived in Baghdad during the 2003 war against Iraq, what would you make of the ‘twin towers’ created by Jake and Dinos Chapman? Nein! Eleven?…

1 April 2018 Samra Mayanja

Verso, 2017; 224pp; £14.99

This book grapples with the puzzling, and seemingly sudden, political trend that has seen much of mainstream European politics shift firmly into the right (and arguably further).

Fekete offers a multifaceted approach to understanding the rise of far-right politicians such as Marine Le Pen in France and outcomes such as Brexit – developments which have baffled the left – as well as the racism underlying these currents.

She rigorously argues that governments across the continent are complicit in a set of culture wars…

1 February 2018 Catherine Barter

Granta, 2017; 176pp; £12.99

‘There are specific ways in which people are silenced,’ Rebecca Solnit writes in her latest collection of essays, ‘but there is also a culture that withers away the space in which women speak and makes it clear that men’s voices count for more than women’s.’

Solnit is the author of the widely shared essay ‘Men Explain Things to Me’, included in a 2014 collection of the same name (see PN 2574), and is often credited with inspiring the word ‘mansplaining’. In both collections, the silencing of women is an ongoing theme.…

1 February 2018 Clare Bonetree

Unbound Digital, 2017; 400pp; £10

This anti-war suspense novel is the debut full-length fiction work of activist and writer Virginia Moffatt, a regular contributor to Peace News for some years. It’s a tale of suspense and intrigue following the lives of three generations of women, from Edwardian times to the first Gulf War, each connected by marriage to the appropriately named Flint family, that lives at the equally apt Echo Hall in bleak north Shropshire. Each woman has to contend with the impact of the war on her family and her life choices – and a family…