books

Having come back from a much needed break with much time spent curled up with books, here are some notes on seven of interest to ecosocialists.

I particularly enjoyed two excellent accounts of the role of trees and other plants in Earth System. The Emerald Planet, by David Beerling, (Oxford University Press, 2007) covers the 500 million years since plants migrated from the oceans.

Nazis In Our Midst: German-Australians, Internment and the Second World War
David Henderson
Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2016
197 pages

When World Word II began, Australia’s then Prime Minister Robert Menzies said that it would be “absurd to intern refugees and anti-fascists when they were on the Allies’ side”.

Yet, writes La Trobe University historian, David Henderson, in his case-study history, Nazis in our Midst, this is exactly what happened in Australia during the war.

The Business Affairs of Mr Julius Caesar
By Bertolt Brecht
Bloomsbury, 2016
216 pages, $31.99

Like Karl Marx before him, the great German writer Bertolt Brecht had a passion for Roman history — and it shines through in the sadly incomplete text of The Business Affairs of Mr Julius Caesar. He researched it for years before first attempting to write it as a play and then turning to the novel form.

Australian soldiers during the Boer war.

Unnecessary Wars
Henry Reynolds
Newsouth, 2016
266 pages

Australia’s first war — the Boer War in South Africa, 1899-1902 — notes historian Henry Reynolds in Unnecessary Wars, was closely bound up with the uniting of the six Australian colonies into a single nation within the British empire.

This conjunction of militarism, nationalism and imperialism was ominous. Australia has never broken the habit of being at the military beck and call of its imperial managers.

Ink In Her Veins: The Troubled Life of Aileen Palmer
Sylvia Martin
University of Western Australia Publishing, 2016
328 pages

In 1939, a young Australian woman grabbed the international headlines when she threw red paint onto the doorsteps of 10 Downing Street, whilst distributing leaflets hidden in copies of the Ladies Home Journal.

The action by Aileen Palmer was to protest the blood that then-British prime minister Neville Chamberlain had on his hands for selling out Spain and Czechoslovakia to European fascism.

Building the Commune
By George Ciccariello-Maher
Verso Books, 2016

Every commune is different, George Ciccariello-Maher says in Building the Commune, but “the coffee is always too sweet, and the process is always difficult, endlessly messy and unpredictable in its inescapable creativity”.

Pitched Battle: In the Frontline of the 1971 Springbok Tour of Australia By Larry Writer Scribe Melbourne, 2016 336pp, $35.00

“Sport and politics don’t mix” is often heard from politicians and media commentators when people target sporting events in acts of protest or athletes use their chosen sports to make political statement — for example Muhammad Ali and, more recently, US NFL star Colin Kaepernick. However, sport is often politicised in many different ways by the ruling class to reinforce the status quo.

Play On! The Hidden History of Women’s Australian Rules Football
Brunette Lenkić and Rob Hess
Echo Publishing 2016,
324 pages

In a landmark development, the first national women’s Australian Football competition — AFL Women’s — will be launched next February. But a century ago, attitudes to women playing the game were very different.

Tertiary students are doing it tough. Yet the Coalition would have you believe we have it easy. High — and getting higher — course fees, job insecurity and accommodation costs are all adding to students’ anxieties.

After Sustainability: Denial, Hope, Retrieval
By John Foster
Routledge, 2015
230pp, $53.95

Just thinking about the global ecological crisis is enough to make you worry. So what is it like when a professional philosopher, theologian and academic starts mulling it over?

Unfortunately, what results is this utterly despondent book by Lancaster University’s John Foster. It is, however, a sophisticated work and activists will no doubt encounter people quoting it in years to come.

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