Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Blacktown: a review

September 29, 2008

Shane Weaver, Bantam Press, 2003

Reviewed by Jenny Haines

When trendy liberals and avowed socialists talk about the working class, it is often without having any personal experience of working class life. Shane Weaver’s book about growing up in Blacktown in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s is a personal and painful recounting of his working class childhood, in a family that lived with the terror of a drunken stepfather and random domestic violence. The cover of the book recounts just some of the terror the family lived with: “the screen door bangs shut. The silence that follows is like the collective intake of breath between the split second a guillotine falls and when it thuds home…unable to get a clear shot, he rips the bed away from the wall. I scream as the first lick of the electric cord stings my back…”

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The Breaking Point, a review

January 31, 2008

Jenny Haines

The Breaking Point, Hemingway, Dos Passos and the Murder of Jose Robles, by Stephen Koch, Robson Books, 2006

When I was given The Breaking Point, as a birthday present, I approached the book with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. The title alone spark my interest, but I am not a fan of murder mysteries. But this is no ordinary murder mystery.

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Sugar slaves, a review

January 31, 2008

Jenny Haines

Sugar Slaves, made by Film Australia and the ABC, executive producer Sharon Connolly, director/co-producer Trevor Graham, producer, Penny Robins. Available on DVD

As the Rudd Government prepares to say sorry to indigenous Australians on February 12, it is to be hoped that the apology will include the Pacific Islanders, or Kanakas as they were once widely called, who are descendants of what the traders called “blackbirding”, but the islanders call the Pacific slave trade.

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Bob Gould’s holiday reading

January 26, 2008

Being an energetic bookseller, the holiday period is one of my better ones for business, but I get a bit of time on public holidays to do a bit of reading rather than the routine marking that I do at the till.

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Suite Francais. A review

January 26, 2008

Jenny Haines

Suite Francais is an unfinished novel by Irene Nemirovsky, written at the time of the fall of France and its occupation by the Nazis. It was meant to be a suite of stories, similar to a symphony, but only two parts of the suite were completed before the author was murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz in 1942.

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Emergency sex and other desperate measures

December 5, 2007

Jenny Haines

Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures. A True Story from Hell on Earth, by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson, Ebury Press, 2004

If you picked up a book at a book fair titled Emergency Sex, you might expect something different from this book’s actual content. There are only a few accounts of desperate sexual encouters while passing through holiday destinations.

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The Writing on the Wall: China and the West

January 31, 2007

Steve Jolly

The Writing on the Wall: China and the West in the 21st Century, by Will Hutton, published by Little Brown, Britain; Free Press, US

British economist Will Hutton’s book The Writing on the Wall: China and the West in the 21st Century is a cold shower for those who think that country will be an ever-growing source of profits, is fundamentally capitalist and has a fast diminishing Communist Party (CP) government control over the economy.

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Jean Devanny, romantic revolutionary

January 18, 2006

Jean Devanney, Romantic Revolutionary, by Carol Ferrier, Melbourne University Press, 1999

Jenny Haines

Jean Devanney is  a fascinating figure in Australian literary and radical history, often forgotten now despite her prodigous contribution, probably because of her association with the Communist Party. Carole Ferrier has more than done her justice in this comprehensive biography.

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Rough Music

December 4, 2005

Blair, Bombs, Baghdad, London, Terror, by Tariq Ali, Verso 2005

Jenny Haines

In Rough Music, Tariq Ali provides a comprehensive analysis of the actions and motives of the Blair Government in Britain in the lead up to the Iraq War,  its unwholesome dealings with US power, its denial of the gravity and moral depravity of the Iraq War, and its increasing political bankruptcy in the face of the consequences of the war — bombs, terror and attacks on civil liberties.

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Response to Sol Salbe

June 16, 2005

On John Percy’s memoir of the DSP and Resistance

Green Left Weekly discussion list, June 16, 2005

Sol Salbe’s critique of John Percy’s book has some value, as far as it goes. He details a number of obvious errors.

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John Percy’s lonely morsel

June 16, 2005

A critical review of A History of the DSP and Resistance

Sol Salbe

Let me start by putting my cards down. I regard myself as a personal friend of both John Percy and his strongest critics like Bob Gould. I’m also a former member of the political current described in John Percy’s book. Uncommon as it may sound I drifted gradually away from the then SWP never needing major political differences or a personal conflict with any of the other participants. I was even consulted briefly during the writing process. These days I have some political differences but they are not of a factional nature, if anything Green Left Weekly supporters have backed me on the two-states for Palestine issue against some other members of the Socialist Alliance.

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A surgeon under fire

April 30, 2005

The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire, by Khassan Baiev with Ruth and Nicholas Daniloff, Pocket Books,

Jenny Haines

While we in the West have been campaigning and fighting against the war for oil in Iraq, another war for oil has been fought by the Russians against the Chechen people. The Russians portray the wars fought in the 1990s and into the 2000s in Chechnya as a part of the war on terrorism, and the West, particularly the Americans buy it, and keep silent, because they want the Russians support in their so called war on terrorism.

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Dubious history: John Percy’s reminiscence on the DSP

March 30, 2005

Ed Lewis

John Percy’s purported History of the Democratic Party and Resistance is dubious history. It’s a participant’s account, sloppily written in places, crammed with triumphalist moralising on behalf of Percy, his brother Jim, and the DSP current, and often careless with facts.

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A certain maritime incident

December 3, 2004

A Certain Maritime Incident. The Sinking of the SIEV X, by Tony Kevin, Scribe Publications, Melbourne

Jenny Haines

Like David Marr and Marian Wilkinson in Dark Victory, Tony Kevin has done a masterful job in documenting the facts, as they are known, about the sinking of the SIEV X, a small vessel that left Canti Bay near Bandar Lumpung, Indonesia, on October 18, 2001, with 421 passengers on board.

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Kirsty Sword Gusmao

June 3, 2004

A Woman of Independence, by Kirsty Sword Gusmao, Pan McMillan Australia, 2003

Jenny Haines

Orthodox Marxists, Trotskyists and anarchists may wonder why this book is being reviewed on Ozleft. After all it is written by a woman who does not claim to be a socialist or a Marxist, but an activist in the cause of national liberation for East Timor.

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