Foreign Policy in Focus
Historians of the bourgeois persuasion tend to focus on the doings of major figures in history. Less emphasis is placed by them on the role of working people, often nameless and ill-remembered. Edward Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class was a methodological breakthrough in showing how a working class made itself. The book under review follows that precedent, charting how ordinary Europeans from the Middle Ages to post-Soviet Europe made their own history.
British artist, novelist, prodigious essayist and poet John Berger, best known for her magisterial and approachable Ways of Seeing and who died in January, is remembered here for his radical approach to Art, when it functions to make sense of what life’s brutalities cannot, when it becomes a meeting place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, what Berger called guts and honor.
The New Yorker
Critiquing a somewhat fawning book by a well-trod biographer of the Atlantic aristocracy, the reviewer nevertheless finds enough merit in the work to present a picture of the royals and their long-suffering and sometimes insufferable prince as a window on Britain's royal family and a glimmer as to why masses of British subjects still revere the preposterous institution.
A look at the English Revolution's first decade, where radicals forced parliamentary leaders to complete the revolt against the monarchy, creating a some two decades-long republic through a genuine social revolution. The book's author is credited with bringing an activist's perspective to it and situating the uprising and the corresponding invention of the pamphlet as the basis for English popular sovereignty, despite the Glorious Revolution's return to a monarchy later.
They undertook secret missions against South Africa's apartheid regime. Sensational story hidden for over 40 years. In the 1960s, a group of leftists risked everything to revive the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. These international activists who embraced a working-class radicalism that was internationalist, cosmopolitan, anti-imperialist, and anticapitalist - and most important, steadfastly opposed to legalized racial oppression in South Africa.
On both sides of the Atlantic, citizens are seizing upon trade agreements as a source of their woes. While this is an over-simplification, it is understandable. Today's trade agreements are negotiated in secret, with corporate interests well represented, but ordinary citizens or workers completely shut out. Not surprisingly, the results have been one-sided: workers' bargaining position has been weakened further, compounding the effects of legislation undermining unions.
London Review of Books
The bourgeoisie does not rule by force alone; it does so by inculcating its ideas and values—its ideology—into the population at large. It follows, then, as the GMB’s John Callow argues in his preface to Silvertown, that “history, like politics…is a fiercely contested ideological space.” Historians who claim to be impartial and “value-free” are not to be trusted—or they are simple.
The Guardian (UK)