This category contains 104 posts

“The Plot Against America”, (2004) by Philip Roth

In a shock election upset, a brash “outsider” and celebrity comes from nowhere, and with nothing much to offer except simplistic answers to complex questions seizes the 1940 GOP presidential election and goes on to defeat incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt in November. Sound familiar? Philip Roth’s 2004 counterfactual novel catapults Charles Lindbergh into the White … Continue reading

“Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future”, (2016) by Paul Mason

Pre 2008 the financial section of the press went unread by many, me included due to it’s seemingly unfathomable language and use of figures. This made it look like a complex code which of course is exactly what the writers wanted us to think. Since the Banking Crises which have torn our Society asunder it … Continue reading

“Red Plenty: Inside the Soviet Dream” (2010) by Francis Spufford.

Most books and films about the USSR are epitomised by Solzhenitsyn’s , “Cancer Ward” (1966) and “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” (1962) and focus on the grim side of life in the Soviet Union concentrating on the abuse of human rights and the terror inspired by Stalin during the purges of the … Continue reading

“And Quiet Flows the Don” (1928) by Mikhail Sholokhov. Book One

This is a wonderful novel with a rollicking narrative, and great characters who are placed firmly in the historical context of the revolutionary era in what became the Soviet Union.  Because of Sholokhov’s close ties and unapologetic support of the Soviet regime he has been shunned and seen as a patsy. He enjoyed the patronage … Continue reading

“Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk”, (2012) by Ben Fountain.

19 year old Iraq veteran Billy Lynn and his squad are sent on a flag waving tour by Vice President Dick Cheney to drum up wavering public support for the war…. Very much in the style of, “Flag of Our Fathers” we are party to the experiences of American soldiers plucked from obscurity and sent … Continue reading

“War and Peace” (1869) by Leo Tolstoy.

Adapted for the BBC by Andrew Davies. There is very rarely an ambiguous response to this seminal work which has constantly been rated one of the greatest literary works in history. And so it was with the latest BBC production. On the face of it things didn’t seem very promising with a populist cast and … Continue reading

“Live Working or Die Fighting”, by Paul Mason. “How the Working Class Went Global”

This wonderful book was written by News Night’s Industrial correspondent Paul Mason back in 2008, just before the Banking Disaster (which he predicted) unleashed the latest in a long list of capitalist crises on the working class. It opens with Peterloo, then looks at the loom-workers of Lyon, the Paris Commune, the American Knights of Labour, London … Continue reading

“The Uncommon Reader” (2006) by Alan Bennett

Betty Mountbatten accidentally discovers Westminster Council’s mobile Library by the Staff Quarters after the Corgis run amok, and so is launched, much to the dismay of her snooty officials, a late-in-life love affair with literature. Pathos (c. L. Naughton of West Drayton. It’s a long story). This is the word that best sums up Bennett’s … Continue reading

“To a Certain Cantatrice”, (1855) by Walt Whitman. (Lessons for the Cobynistas)

“Lads”, said my American Studies (History) lecturer at the University of Ulster (oblivious to the presence of two girls in the seminar), “If you want to understand America mid 19th Century you’ll read Walt Whitman’s poems.”  On completion of the class I made a beeline to the campus library to spent the next 36 hours … Continue reading

“The Lives of Frank Ryan: In Green and Red”, (2004) by Adrian Hoar

The name of Frank Ryan first came onto my radar in 1987 when I bought a copy of Christy Moore’s seminal Irish folk/rock album “Ride On” in Derry Market. Released in 1984 this wonderful and evocative record is one of my personal Christy favourites having been introduced to the great man’s work when he supported … Continue reading

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