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Australians have begun the grim journey through the centenary of World War I. Our newspapers have special articles and multi-page wrap arounds commemorating every significant date. This is driven by a multi-million dollar government fund designed to whip up militarisation in contemporary Australia by obscuring the truth about WWI. Part of the truth is that in Christmas 1914, just months after the war began, millions of soldiers ceased fighting and fraternised across the trenches. In some areas, this lasted for a week.
The Political Bubble: Why Australians Don’t Trust Politics Mark Latham Macmillan, 2014 291 pages, $32.99 (pb) The only thing surprising about the 4% of Australians who a poll last year said “almost always” trusted the federal government is that the figure is that high. Further evidence of the many failures of Australian politics comes in The Political Bubble via an angry Mark Latham, the former leader of the federal Labor Party.
This week, by law, I have to deride Russell Brand as a self-obsessed, annoying idiot. No article or comment on Twitter can legally be written now unless it does this, so by the weekend the Sunday magazine recipes will go, “Goose and marmalade paella, serves six ― unless one of the six is Russell Brand in which case he can make his own dinner as he’s such a rebel I suppose he doesn’t agree with ovens”.
The Making of English Social Democracy By Peter Cockcroft. Australian Ebook Publisher Kindle edition 236 pages, $1.05 It may seem a strange ask to encourage socialists to examine the politics of late Victorian Britain when there is so much else to be done. But Peter Cockcroft makes a significant case that understanding this aspect of the past can help us to make some sense of where we are now.
Marx on Gender & the Family: A Critical Study By Heather A. Brown Haymarket, 2013 US socialist Heather Brown has performed a great service in this short, yet detailed survey of all of Karl Marx’s writings on women and gender ― including some that have never been published in any language. Brown shows how Marx did not just analyse economics and history, he interrogated all forms of literature (even police files) to tease out the threads of social oppression.
When Google Met WikiLeaks By Julian Assange Published August 22, 2014 200 pages, paperback, $16 OR Books www.orbooks.com When Google CEO Eric Schmidt turned up to meet WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, he brought several people with him who were connected to the US government. "The delegation was one part Google, three parts US foreign-policy establishment," Assange writes in his latest book, When Google Met WikiLeaks. "But I was still none the wiser."
The Dealer Is The Devil Adrian Newstead Brandl & Schlesinger Published February 2014 480 pages, $49.95 www.book.cooeeart.com.au Adrian Newstead was one of the first people to study climate change in Australia. "I went to a place called the Barren Grounds, which were down the New South Wales south coast down near Kangaroo Valley," the 66-year-old tells Green Left Weekly.
China’s Second Continent: How a million migrants are building a new Empire in Africa Howard W French Knopf Published May 20, 2014 304 pages www.howardwfrench.com In his 2009 film Rethink Afghanistan, director Robert Greenwald suggested that the US should not try to control the world through military means, but by building schools and hospitals in the countries it wishes to invade. Journalist Howard French's book China's Second Continent shows how such a model can work in practice.
Flashboys By Michael Lewis W. W. Norton, 2014 288 pp, $39.99 Michael Lewis's Flashboys has had a dramatic welcome in the United States. It swept to the top of the best seller list and was only knocked from its perch by Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. It is revealing of the contemporary US mindset that Flashboys, which turns the machinations of Wall Street into a classic US-style morality play, should alternate with Piketty’s history of capitalist inequality. In reality, Lewis has not produced new information.
Despite Israel’s relentless aerial bombardments, shelling and ground attacks since July 7, Palestinian writers in Gaza have responded to the latest onslaught by doing what they know — writing. Ra Page, director of Manchester-based Comma Press, which recently published a collection of short stories from writers in Gaza, says “all of the Book of Gaza contributors are writing away like crazy, whilst they have power”.

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