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Making Their Own History

Ingo Schmidt Solidarity
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.

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The Sense of Art: In Memoriam John Berger

Mike Gonzalez International Socialism
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.

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Where Prince Charles Went Wrong

Zoë Heller 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.

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Lessons From the Leveller Revolution

Dominic Alexander Counterfire
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.

The Secret Struggle Against Apartheid

Peter Cole Jacobin
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.

From Brexit to the Future

Joseph E. Stiglitz Project Syndicate
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.

Corbyn’s Progress

Tariq Ali London Review of Books
The statistics about global inequality desperately need someone who can explain them in terms that can anger, mobilise and inspire people. If Corbyn can do this, it would mark an important shift in English politics.

The Silvertown Strike - A Partisan History

John Tully Monthly Review
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.

books

The Last of Christopher Hitchens

Terry Eagleton The Guardian (UK)
The last posthumous collection of Christopher Hitchens's essays we are likely to see, the book under review shows the incomparable polemicist moved from being a practicing Trotskyist (though he never practiced enough to get good at it) to cosying up to the Washington neocons.
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