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Remembrance Day is marked in Commonwealth nations on November 11 -- to commemorate the end of the bloodbath that was World War I. As a commemoration of fallen soldiers, it is overshadowed in Australia by Anzac Day -- but is a far bigger deal in Britain.

Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg
By Kate Evans
Edited by Paul Buhle
Verso Books, London, 2015,
220 pages $16.95.
Order here

Perhaps a new comic-book super hero is about to take the world by storm. An unlikely Frau Luxemburg, who transforms from a tiny and odd-looking outsider into the almost unstoppable Red Rosa — Revolutionary Scourge of the Oppressors.

October marked 50 years since the start of the campaign of mass killing of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and sympathisers in Indonesia. It is estimated as many as 1 million people were killed or jailed during 1965-1966, carried out as part of Suharto's Western-backed military coup.

Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly asserted that Adolf Hitler had no intention of exterminating Europe's Jews until a Palestinian persuaded him to do it.

The Israeli prime minister's attempt to whitewash Hitler and lay the blame for the Holocaust at the door of Palestinians signals a major escalation of his incitement against and demonisation of the people living under his country's military and settler-colonial rule.

It also involves a good deal of Holocaust denial.


Tom Iljas visits his mother's grave in West Sumatra. He was stopped from visiting the grave of his father who was killed during the 1965 massacre of leftists. Photo: Yulia Evina Bhara.

Sometimes the fate of a child is written 100 years before they are born. Some will view this as a reductionist approach or fatalistic, but here we are not talking of a divine fate, we are talking of historical forces, politics, power, hegemony, economic exploitation and colonialism.

Mrs Engels
By Gavin McCrea
Scribe, 2015
352 pp, $29.99

For those hankering to know what Communist Manifesto co-author Frederick Engels’ erect penis looked like, page 37 of this novel is for you.

“In its vigours, it points up and a bit to the side,” says Lizzie Burns, the first-person narrator of the entire story.

Gavin McCrea’s Burns is a brilliant narrative voice, and his writing sparkles. Burns’s rich brogue and incisive humour are wonderful.

R&R: A Novel
By Mark Dapin
Viking, 2015, 287 pp, $32.99

Mark Dapin is a rising star of Australian writing, having first made his mark as a journalist with a string of newspapers. He is a knock-about sort of working-class bloke, who brushed up against the British socialist movement before migrating, a bit of a boxer as well as a writer.

Interviewing the light welterweight world champion Kostya Tszyu for the Sydney Morning Herald, Dapin famously persuaded Tszyu to let him spar with him in the ring. Tszyu didn’t muck about, breaking three of Dapin’s ribs.


Wallis Simpson, Edward of Windsor, Adolf Hitler (fourth, fifth and sixth from left).

17 Carnations: The Windsors, The Nazis & The Cover-Up
By Andrew Morton
Michael O’Mara Books, 2015,
327 pages


Marines join protesting German workers in Berlin during the November 1918 revolution.

The German Left & the Weimar Republic
By Ben Fowkes
Haymarket Books, 2015
399 pages, US$28.

Socialist historian Ben Fowkes has given us a unique and vivid text documentary of the German workers’ movement during the tumultuous years of its greatest influence — from November 1918 to its defeat by Nazism 15 years later.

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