Archived entries for Books

House of Commons

The House of Commons an Antropology of MPs at Work_

House of Commons: An Anthropology of MPs at Work

The idea of a study of the nature of MPs in their own habitat could have been dreamt up from Spitting Image in the early nineties, with David Bellamy getting in close to the slugs, the sheep and the grey leader in white underpants. But anthropologist Emma Crewe respects MPs as humans and goes into the House of Commons at a fascinating time, before the 2015 election, with regard at party politics and Members of Parliament at a modern time low.

A week is a long-time in politics, and already in a few months since publication party politics has taken a new turn. The Labour Party has become a mass membership party again after an election of a leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who packed out halls around the country in his campaign, re-energizing politics by speaking up against an ideological austerity agenda when many in his party, particularly the parliamentary party, had lost either the political will or lacked the intelligence to articulate an alternative. And interestingly Emma Crewe interviewed the backbench Corbyn, giving the book an unexpected element of topicality. Continue reading…

Postcapitalism

postcapitalism-book-cover

At significant moments for the economy in the last ten years, from the global banking crisis in 2008 to the recent near shutdown of Greece, anyone in Britain interested in current affairs would be sure to catch a Paul Mason TV report like Tarantino used to run to the cinema for a new Scorsese release in the seventies. Like those news despatches, Mason’s new book, Postcapitalism, is informative, enlightening and engaging.

As it says on the tin (in this case a lovely black hardback), the book looks to the future in a fast changing world, but not before exploring the past and explaining the present. As well as sharing his experiences in the field, Mason mixes micro and macro economics, an in-depth political and economic knowledge and hard evidence to make a convincing case why the current economic model is not only reaching the end of its life-cycle, but how the information technology network can be the basis that both connects globally while individually giving us autonomy in a sustainable society. Continue reading…

Field of Shadows


Field of Shadows Dan Waddell

An itch of curiosity into German cricket turned into an irresistible scratch for Dan Waddell, leading him to tell a story of how cricket was a ray of light while a nation fell to a brutal fascism regime and Berlin was destroyed. As well of a tale of an English touring party playing unofficial tests initiated by cricket loving Germans before the second world was declared, the lovely nuggets of information dropped in the book, from a random encounter with a buggy-pushing Mike Atherton to how the long room at Lords was used to check for STDs during WWII, make Field of Shadows a valuable read for cricket lovers and historians.

By means of Google, interviews, old football magazines, rare editions of cricket guides and most notably by painstakingly looking through letters and scrapbooks kept by collectors who cherished memories and documented life (and who would today often be dismissed as hoarders), Dan uncovers enough detail to piece together a little known trip, that in itself was seen as an act of rebellion to a cricket despising Fuhrer. Continue reading…

Reading Manifesto

In the midst of the 2015 General Election campaign, Mark Perryman produces his own reading manifesto, with a run down of the quarter’s books with a political edge.

Woody Guthrie and the Dustbowl Ballads

The much-missed indie band, well by some of us of a certain age, Sultans of Ping, had a great line in one of their barnstormer numbers “I like your manifesto, put it to the test ’tho.” We are told in all seriousness that this is the most important General Election, ever, yet it will be fought between the three parties of the mainstream with ever-decreasing differences in their politics. Most important? Not in those terms, the importance lies almost entirely in the busting apart of the Westminster cartel, the centre this time really won’t hold.

Veteran rebel, aka 1960s ‘street fighting man’, Tariq Ali proves the durability of a counter-cultural idealism. Tariq’s new book Extreme Centre is a splendid denunciation of the battle for the middle ground and never mind the rest of us. After Neoliberalism? and its companion volume  The Neoliberal Crisis are both framed by a similar 1968-inflected politics to Tariq Ali’s. A shared belief that another politics is not only necessary but possible. As the dull grey reality of #GE2015 threatens to smother any lingering hope these are essential reads. An optimism of the intellect revived by a new wave of writers, thinkers and activists too. Owen Jones is nothing short of a phenomenon, someone from the left who can brighten up the dullest of TV studio debates, a wilful energy to inspire that is founded on good writing. His latest, The Establishment is more than enough to convince anyone of the maxim ‘whoever we vote for the government always gets in.” Continue reading…

The Snowden Files

the-snowden-files-by-luke-harding

In the final week of 2014 North Korea’s internet and 3G mobile network came to a standstill. Before their official news agency released racist outrage against the US President, we can imagine an image of their own leader taking off his khaki cap as he got down to reboot a router before speaking to a call centre handler in another country, suspiciously called Kim, who asked him if he tried turning it off and on again. Eventually the penny must have dropped. To the delight of the rest of the free world, Barack Obama had appeared to deliver on his promise and flexed a muscle against the censorship of satire.

The official US response against the hacking of Sony Pictures came with sanctions but there should be little doubt how much control they have in the world of telecommunications, as every reader of Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files will know. The book will also explain to anyone who in the last week has had a fear that their private emails, online chats, SMS message and calls may suddenly become accessible to the secret services with further surveillance laws to be introduced following the horrific terror attacks in Paris this month, that this already the case, unless they are already encrypting their communications.

It was the realisation of this, between 2009 and 2012, coupled with the fact that workers at these agencies were looking at and circulating private images of ordinary citizens for their own titillation, which spurred the right-leaning Republic libertarian Edward Snowden, an IT contractor who worked for America’s National Security Agency (NSA), to reveal the secrets of the secret services. Continue reading…

Books of 2014

From Cooking to American Crime novels, via Cycling, the Revolution and the retelling of ancient Italian stories for children, Mark Perryman recommends his Books of 2014 as contenders for late Christmas presents.

101 Damnations - Books of 2014

NOT A LOT OF PEACE. TOO MUCH ILL WILL. A GOOD SEASONAL READ NEEDED.

Bah! Humbug? Well, not exactly but in a world of not much peace and plenty of ill-will what do you buy for those in your life clinging on to the ideal that the point is to change it? Here’s my top ten, not guaranteed to cheer them up mind. Continue reading…

The Secret Footballer’s Guide to the Modern Game

The Secret Footballer Guide to the Modern Game

 

The third book from The Secret Football takes a different approach from his first two, almost deliberately light, seemingly designed as a stocking filling with a mixture of short bursts of gossip, analysis and opinion. Continue reading…

Sports Books 2014 Q4

Taking Our Ball Back cover

Mark Perryman of Philosophy Football picks out the best final batch of sports books 2014.

I’m sorry but you won’t find here the just-in-time-for Christmas sports autobiography blockbusters. With just enough manufactured controversy to ensure blanket coverage when they are launched. even a skim read will reveal that on the contrary they tell the reader very little they didn’t either know or suspect already.

Instead I would recommend a weighty volume of this sort, A Companion to Sport edited by David Andrews and Ben Carrington. The range of coverage, from Monty Panesar to football’s 2010 World Cup, is matched by the variety of insights, sport as a contested space being the overarching theme. As an academic book scandalously expensive, but any well-stocked library. should have a copy. Continue reading…

Hack Attack

Hack Attack How the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch

Nick Davies’ Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch is one of the most important stories of this century so far. The hardback book is a big tome and the weight of evidence contained with it is compelling. It tells of a six-year long effort which succeeded in exposing the widespread criminal activities taking place in the newsrooms of Britain’s best selling newspaper, despite attempts to scupper the investigation by the public corporation that owned the paper, the police and the official press complaints body.

The News of the World hacked voicemails of the families of dead soldiers, victims of crime and terrorist attacks, dead school children, members of the public who happened to be associated with people in the public eye, politicians who both did and didn’t hold sensitive information to the state, royalty and people who just happened to have be famous due to their profession or the way the media wind blew. They didn’t just pounce on those who didn’t change their voicemail pass codes, their private investigators changed passwords through employees in mobile phone operators. They hacked emails. And they had private investigators listen into phone calls and disrupt police investigations.

And for years they got away with it until this investigation finally broke through numerous walls of denial and obstruction to expose not just the News of the World, but the abuse of power by its owners.

Continue reading…

Political Books Autumn 2014

Mark Perryman reviews the political books taking us into autumn 2014.

Unspeakable Things jacket

This autumn has been dominated already by two lots of morbid symptoms. The unseemly sight of Labour Unionism cosying up to the Tories, Lib-Dems, the financial and media establishment in defence of the ancien regime. Accompanied by UKiP’s spectacular and seemingly irresistible rise, now fracturing the Tory Right’s vote more effectively than ever, the protest vote that just won’t go away.

What possible cause for any optimism then? Because outside of the parliamentary parties’ mainstream there is a revived freshness of ideas. Two writers in particular serve to symbolise such brightness of purpose. Laurie Penny’s Unspeakable Things is the latest collection of her writing. The spiky subversiveness of Laurie’s journalism best summed up by her book’s sub-title ‘ sex, lies and revolution’. This is feminism with no apologies given, no compromises surrendered and a sharp-edged radicalism all the better for both. The Establishment by Owen Jones is every bit as much a reason for igniting readers’ optimism but also the cause of a quandary. Owen is an unrepentant Bennite, a body of ideas and activists with next to no influence in Ed Miliband’s Labour. The organised Left outside of Labour in England at any rate, borders on the non-existent. Owen is described on the book’s cover by Russell Brand no less as ‘ Our generation’s Orwell’, a bold yet fitting accolade. Yet Owen’s writing aims, like Laurie’s, at something beyond being simply a critical media voice. Quite how, is the quandary for both. Continue reading…



Copyright © 2004–2009. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.