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The Scramble for Africa
Thomas Pakenham, Abacus 1992
‘It wasn’t all bad, we did give you the railways!’ – this is the get-out clause of many empires.
Scramble for Africa manages to explain the psychology of those who now stand as statues all over Europe. Whether it’s Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill or Leopold across the sea, nationalistic intellectual commentators love to masturbate over the merits of these leaders – or worse, want their contributions to be part of the education system, indoctrinating the young in their misguided morality and views about the human race.
It was not long ago that the most vicious of empires slaughtered millions in Africa without any remorse. This book explains the competitive, evil nature of European leaders whose blood-drenched greed and capitalism went to such indecent levels.
The Travels of Ibn Battuta
Travellers in general have been the servants of rulers with ulterior motives but here was one that genuinely consumed himself in the actual surroundings and an interest in people.
Armed with simplicity, Ibn Battuta crossed many continents, and his observations are full of curiosity and intrigue. A well-travelled person should be able to elevate himself from his ignorant opinions and explain not only the common, sometimes annoying, traits of humanity, but break down what bonds people together and how they bond.
Messages to the World: the statements of Osama Bin Laden
Bruce Lawrence (ed), Verso 2005
This is an encyclopedia of letters addressed to the leaders in the Arab world, from the man and the organisation that has changed our world this century. In them, he pleads for a change of direction away from subservience to the colonial and imperial powers.
The tragedy of 9/11 in all its epic proportions is not a far cry from the despair of not only the Muslim world but of many other corners of the world at the military and economic terrorism carried out by the West, in all its unquestioned acceptability. If nothing justifies the position of Osama Bin Laden, then the same rule must apply to states across the globe. This book shows that state terrorism is the catalyst for resistance, however uncomfortable that might be.
The telephone directory of Bradford, 1960 and 2009
The best way to study the changing face of Britain. Check out the phenomenon of white flight, not just in run-down areas but the more affluent areas.
We loved Mr and Mrs Wright and thought we would get married to Jane and Susan, their daughters, but now they live in Eccleshill and that’s a no-go area for us – we sent many invites for many years, but no response. Love you Susan, still!
While There is Light
Tariq Mehmood, Carcanet 2003
Tariq Mehmood chooses a crap title for a great semi-biography, as from his birthplace of Pakistan to Bradford, he is thrown into a world of insecurity and conflicts. This is essentially the story of Britain’s second generation Asians in the late 60s and early 70s, against a backdrop of racism and white rules. The regularity of physical attacks on Asians was too much to bear and the famous Bradford 12 took the law into their own hands, and rightly so. If the system was not going to stop the attacks then they were going to prepare the petrol bombs for the National Front. This is a fascinating story of a bunch of Asian anarchists who fought the law and won.
A Mirror to the Blind
Abdul Sattar Edhi, 1996
Together with his wife, Balquis, Abdul Sattar Edhi started the Edhi Charity foundation in Pakistan, which has since grown into a huge free health service. This book is full of the conviction of a person who stands absolute in the philosophy of charity, a duty not a plea. This man has seen it all yet keeps his focus on what is righteous.
The God Delusion
Richard Dawkins, Bantam 2006
The great hope of atheism fails miserably in attempting to convince us believers that we’ve got it all wrong. Mystics far greater than Dawkins, and less patronising, pondered these questions and died without finding the absolute answer. His Holiness Dawkins offers little but cheap attacks and absurd, fantasised egotistical assumptions. I think he wants to be God.
Many talk about it, insult it, burn it, flush it down toilets (Guantanamo), misrepresent it (Wilders), attempt to re-write it, abuse it, but they never READ IT for themselves. The Qur’an is not just for Muslims; it clearly throws down a gauntlet – so challenge the writings intellectually.
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Corbyn just won a prize for peace activism - so why is the Labour Party still committed to renewing trident? Lily Sheehan investigates.
Connor Devine writes that whilst Brexit might be a car crash, we can't just side with an institution responsible for enforcing austerity.
Michael Coates reviews a new film revealing the shocking state of housing inequality in the UK.
The vicious media campaign against trans people is part bigotry, part strategy, writes Roz Kaveney
Jon Trickett MP reports on 'Dickensian' levels of poverty and hardship felt across the UK.
Natasha King busts some myths around the No Borders debate
He was once a radical icon, but now he's a mouthpiece for racism and nationalism. Time to get off stage, writes Michael Calderbank
Consensus seems to have shifted, but austerity is far from over. The chancellor has committed us to yet more years of misery while the rich get richer, writes Richard Seymour.
Frustrated at the idea of another royal wedding? You're not alone. Joana Ramiro argues we should stop idealising a fundamentally undemocratic institution.
Liberal elites are using Russian interference to minimise their own political failures, writes Matt Turner
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny