History

Red Joan
Starring Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, Tom Hughes & Tereza Srbova
Directed by Trevor Nunn
In cinemas

Red Joan is loosely based on the spying activities of British civil servant Melita Norwood, who was nearly 90 years old when she was exposed as a Soviet agent.

Mutiny on The Western Front: 1918
Greg Raffin
Big Sky Publishing, 2018
216 pages

For those who may have been living in a cave without electricity for a while, it may need pointing out that the Australian establishment likes to conduct extravagant khaki-and-slouch-hat festivals to annually celebrate the gore-filled Australian invasion of Gallipoli on April 25 in 1915.

American Heiress: The Kidnapping, Crimes & Trial of Patty Hearst
Jeffrey Toobin
Profile Books, 2017, 371 pages

“Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people.” With this hyperbolic declaration by “General Field Marshall” Cinque M’tume (the nom-de-plume of a Black prison escapee), the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) introduced itself to the American people in the early 1970s.

Operation Chaos: The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers & Each Other
Matthew Sweet
Picador, 2018, 351 pages

Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet
By Yasha Levine
Icon Books, £14.99

As accusations continue to swirl through social media around foreign meddling in Britain’s Brexit referendum and the last US election, Yasha Levine’s Surveillance Valley is a timely intervention in revealing how undermining democracy has always been the modus operandi of the internet since its inception.

Thousands marched through Berlin on January 13 to pay their respects 100 years after the brutal murders of revolutionary socialists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, Morning Star Online said.

Marchers came from across Germany and many countries. They laid red flowers at the tombs of Luxemburg, Liebknecht and other revolutionaries in the Friedrichsfelde Socialist Cemetery in east Berlin.

The death of George H.W. Bush has dominated the U.S. news for days, but little attention has been paid to the defining event of Bush’s first year in office: the invasion of Panama. On December 19, 1989, Bush Sr. sent tens of thousands of troops into Panama, ostensibly to execute an arrest warrant against its leader, Manuel Noriega, on charges of drug trafficking. General Noriega was once a close ally to Washington and on the CIA payroll.

The Darkening Age
By Catherine Nixey
Pan Macmillan, 2018
352 pp, $32.99

Do you remember the horror in 2015 when ISIS seized the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, killed archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad who had protected its monuments and attacked the 12-metre-high statue of Athena?

It wasn’t the first time that statue was attacked by religious fanatics. As Catherine Nixey records, in the 4th Century, Christian zealots attacked Palmyra and pulled the statue down. It lay in ruins until Muslim experts put it back together.

November 11 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, but not before tens of millions died in the four-year-long unprecedented industrial carnage. Amid all the media coverage, almost entirely missing is the actual story of how such bloodshed and misery was ended: by a mass popular rebellion in Germany that brought down the monarchy and established a republic.

The rise of the far right around the world, with fascist candidate Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil close to joining the growing ranks of authoritarian far right leaders, many on the left are wondering how to respond.

The parallels with the rise of fascism in Europe in the early 20th century are clear.

In July, Canadian Marxist academic and activist John Riddell gave a speech, abridged below, at a York University seminar entitled “Historical perspectives on united fronts against fascism and the far right”.

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Empire of the Tsars: Romanov Russia
Three part series presented by Lucy Worsley
Available on SBS On Demand until October 10

This three-part series examines the history of Russia’s most famous royal family, the Romanovs. This is a useful introduction to a topic for those wanting to know more about the conditions that led to the 1917 Russian Revolution.

The Romanovs rose to power in 1613 after the collapse of the previous Rurik dynasty that ruled Russia for 700 years. The tsars were absolute monarchs with enormous power.

Today, Tarshiha is promoted on AirBnB as Ma’alot-Tarshiha in the Galilee region of Israel and, depending on your budget, you can book somewhere chic and stylish to take in the stunning views or a more humble, village style experience. Seventy years ago though, Tarshiha was a village in Palestine.

BlacKkKlansman
Directed by Spike Lee
Starring John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier & Topher Grace.
2018, in cinemas now

BlacKkKlansman is based upon the 2014 memoirs Black Klansman by former Colorado Springs police officer Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) telling the real-life story of his operation to infiltrate the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

In recent weeks, a new wave of protests and demonstrations in the streets, civil disobedience and strikes in factories has been sweeping all over the cities and towns of Iran, writes Reza Akbari.

This follows the protest wave in mid-January, when the people, infuriated by the high cost of living, corruption, nepotism, inequality and injustice flooded into the streets, crying out their discontent and anger.

Of the many world-shaking events that took place in 1968, high on the list was the movement for reform in Czechoslovakia to create a democratic socialist alternative to the Stalinist bureaucratic dictatorships that ruled the Soviet bloc. Chris Slee takes a look at the movement, which was dramatically ended by a Soviet Union-led invasion.

On the night of August 20/21, 1968, tanks from the armies of the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria rolled into Czechoslovakia. The aim of the invaders was to crush a movement for reform.

Among the first laws passed by the new Australian parliament in 1901 when the Commonwealth of Australia came into being was the Pacific Island Labourers Act, ordering the deportation of black Melanesian workers known as kanakas.

Other aspects of what became known as the White Australia Policy have since been rectified, but this shameful stain on our past has yet to be properly addressed.

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