Reviews

Depths of denial

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 15/05/2019 - 10:28
holocaust denial

Keith Kahn Harris’s book sets out to be a short analysis on what drives a lot of conspiracy theories: denial.

People deny climate change, the effectiveness of vaccines, or the Holocaust. Kahn Harris explains succinctly where some of these conspiracies are driven from — helplessness in a world that leads the less informed to believing the conspiracy of someone with an alternative agenda. But the book is short in length and short on answers.

The Glorious Heresies

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 01/05/2019 - 11:48
GH cover

Lisa McInerney’s The Glorious Heresies is a strong debut novel, which won her the Bailey’s Women’s Prize in 2016.

McInerney was already known for her blog, Arse End of Ireland, in which McInerney spoke about the impacts of the financial crash on Ireland’s poorest. The novel continues similar themes, focusing on those forced into the fringes of society in Cork.

Caring for the NHS

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 01/05/2019 - 11:29
NHS demo

Mark Thomas’ show Check Up: Our NHS at 70 is a whistle-stop and funny tour of what is wrong with underfunding, short staffing and the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

In some ways this is Mark Thomas at his softest, and probably on a topic on which he is on very safe ground.

But the takeaway message is that inequality, low incomes, poor housing, cuts to social care and local authority services have all combined with the dismantling of the NHS to make the health outcomes for the poorest significantly worse.

Capital rules by exploitation not by nudging

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/04/2019 - 10:33
web scraper

A review of Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power (Profile Books, 2019)

In 2014, a new toy hit the shops, My Friend Cayla. This doll was unlike other dolls: responding to its playmate’s voice; programmable with the names of family and pets; and, through its Bluetooth internet connection, giving spoken responses to questions.

The Good Soldier Schwejk

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/04/2019 - 10:18
good soldier

Jill Mountford reviews The Good Soldier Schwejk (and His Fortunes in the World War) - written by Jaroslav Hasek, published 1923, adapted and directed by Christine Edzard, Sands Films, 2017. Currently being shown in Rotherhithe, London, and soon to be released on DVD.

Christine Edzard has made it her mission to revive interest in what was possibly the first satirical comedy about the absurdity of war. She adapted The Good Soldier Schwejk (sometimes spelt Svejk, pronounced Shvake) to mark the centenary of World War I.

Dangerous nonsense: Bower on Corbyn

Submitted by martin on Tue, 09/04/2019 - 18:48
books

Every Labour canvasser will have come across him (and, invariably, it is a he).

Leering out of his doorway he delivers a deranged tirade about how the country is going to the dogs. Communist-run trade unions. Moscow gold. Economy wrecked by strikes. Scroungers living off the dole. Better off than him, an honest hardworking man.

Of course, not a racist. But too many immigrants. Especially Muslims. Bogus asylum-seekers. Should stay in France. Got a council house instead of his daughter. Live off the state. He’s accused of racism for telling the truth. In his own country!

Blues Power

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 27/03/2019 - 09:12
McCalla

Right-wing politicians always have great difficulty trying to get support from anyone with artistic integrity. In the Thatcher era, when numerous talented musicians sang up for the Labour cause under the banner of Red Wedge, all the Tories could cobble together were talentless tosh like Vince Hill, Jim Davidson and Mrs Mopp. Similarly, the Trump Presidency from the world of showbiz have been decidedly threadbare.

“They steal the roses from our cheeks”

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 20/03/2019 - 10:11
chainmakers

A ten-week strike involving recently unionised women home-workers is the subject of Neil Gore’s latest production.

“‘Rouse, Ye Women” is a folk-ballad opera telling the stirring story of the Chainmakers’ Strike of 1910 through uplifting songs sung by Bryony Purdue as Mary MacArthur, and Rowan Godal as “Bird”, a downtrodden chainmaker.

With only a guitar and banjolele, a simple but evocative set, and an imaginative use of lighting, the audience are quickly transported to a backyard outhouse in Cradley Heath.

Telling the truth about wars

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 20/03/2019 - 09:17

The career of the journalist Marie Colvin was fairly unique. She covered most of the major conflicts of the 1990s and 2000s up until her death in Homs, Syria, in 2012.

Her articles in the Sunday Times brought across some of the horrors of war, not just the conflicts between political factions and leaders but the stories of mass graves in Fallujah, and the near starvation of internally displaced Tamils. Until her death she may be remembered as one of the last journalists to interview Colonel Gadaffi before he was killed in the Libyan conflict of 2011.

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