book review

Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus looks at five important new books on famines, deadly epidemics and the pesticide poisons in our food.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 11-12 last year, an infamous mobilisation of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other far-right groups was met by anti-fascist and anti-racist protesters. In violent clashes, attacks by the far right resulted in many counter-protesters being injured and one dead — anti-fascist activist Heather Hayes, who was killed when a fascist drove a car into the crowd.

US President Donald Trump, whose election was supported by and emboldened the far right, refused to condemn the far right, stating: “You had many fine people on both sides.”

The furore surrounding Michael Wolff’s book is unsurprising because he lifts the lid on the foetid cesspit that is US President Donald Trump’s White House. In the tradition of scandal-mongering journalism, he reveals the back-stabbing, in-fighting and squabbling of this ramshackle administration of bigots, ignoramuses and incompetents.

Game of Mates tells the story of two Australian men, the working-class Bruce and the capitalist James — two imaginary but emblematic men with very different lives.

Written by economists Cameron Murray and Paul Fritjers, these two archetypal characters are used to tell the story of economic theft across Australia.

Adam Mayer’s book on Marxist currents in Nigeria is what it says on the cover — a rich history of Marxist and revolutionary thought and struggles that are little known outside the West African nation.

In 1960, trainee priest Thomas Keneally abandoned the seminary at Manly on Sydney’s North Shore without any qualifications other than a Bachelor of Theology and with no skills other than medieval Latin.

His escape from his crisis of confidence in the Catholic Church, says Stephany Steggall in her biography of the Australian novelist, was through writing. This was both Keneally’s attempt to understand, and keep at bay, the “madness and melancholia” of the human lot, and his own course of personal therapy for exorcising the mental demons that haunted him for six years in an uncaring, dogmatic institution with its “anti-human moral code”.

Climate & Capitalism editor and author of A Redder Shade of Green: Intersections of Science and Socialism Ian Angus takes a look at six new books on Marx’s ecosocialist views, climate change and health, theory and action, inevitability versus contingency in evolution, new politics and the meaning of Marx’s Capital.

Former top dog at the Health Services Union (HSU) Michael Williamson used to joke that “nothing’s too good for the workers – and their representatives”, as he brazenly defrauded the union to the tune of $5 million.

Just one lavish, boozy lunch with his cronies would burn through the annual dues ($600) of one of his low-paid union members – hospital cleaners, orderlies, clerks, porters, etc – writes journalist, Brad Norington, in Planet Jackson.

Those smirking denigrators of the “nanny-state” who gripe about “occupational health and safety gone mad” would do well to read Kate Moore’s The Radium Girls. It details a time when a nasty industrial poison, unregulated by business-friendly governments, destroyed countless US women’s lives.

There were innumerable horrors committed by El Salvador’s right-wing death-squad government during the civil war that raged from 1980 to 1992. Alongside the peasants and workers killed or disappeared and the nuns raped, were the priests who were executed. The most sensational execution of all was the murder of Archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Romero, gunned down while celebrating mass.


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