books

50 Shades of Grey
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson
Starring Dakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan
Based on the novel by EL James
In cinemas now

Perhaps the most concerning thing about 50 Shades of Grey is not that it is a film adaptation of a novel that was written in an online forum — and a Twilight fan forum at that.

Clivosaurus: The Politics Of Clive Palmer
Guy Rundle
Quarterly Essay
November 2014
Black Inc., $19.99

Elected in 2013 by the curious, the disaffected and the dark arts of preference deals, billionaire Queensland coal baron Clive Palmer and his Senate threesome, were, at first, writes Guy Rundle in Clivosaurus, ignored or played for laughs by the establishment media.

Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won a Referendum But Lost Scotland
By Iain MacWhirter
Cargo Publishing, 2014,
174 pages

The independence referendum on September 18 last year has been hailed by many as the most important event in the recent Scottish history.

The result was far closer than any supporter of independence would have dared predict even a few months before the vote. About 1.6 million voters (45%) refused to be swayed by a sustained fear campaign by the British state and its allies ― voting “Yes” to Scottish independence.

Left-wing London-based US journalist and author Mike Marqusee passed away on January 13 from cancer, aged 61. Below, radical sports writer and socialist Dave Zirin pays tribute. It is abridged from The Nation.

***

Radical journalist Mike Marqusee, the greatest professional influence on my life, has died. Losing Mike is like losing several pints of blood. I’m left dizzy by the prospect of his absence.

Blowing The Roof Off The Twenty-First Century: Media, Politics, and the Struggle for Post-Capitalist Democracy
Robert W McChesney
Monthly Review Press
272 pages
Published November 2014
www.blowingtheroofoff.com

The work of renowned media critic Robert McChesney “has been of extraordinary importance”, says the “world's top public intellectual”, Noam Chomsky. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to McChesney about his new book, Blowing The Roof Off The Twenty-First Century.

* * *

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.

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