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Anne of Green Gables
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Puffin. First published 1908
I have always been bookish. I was brought up in a working class home and my father took me to the library every week. He was an avid reader and we would come back weighed down with our spoils. Most of my favourites had as their central character a girl who was strong and feisty and was valued in the end for being smart rather than beautiful! Anne was one of those. The book meant something special because I was given it as a prize and my mother, who had left school at 14 and rarely had time for the indulgence of reading, was thrilled when I brought it home. She wistfully remembered it from when she was at school and she read it again. Sharing it with her meant so much to me and I still love discussing books with other people. It’s like sharing food.
Grapes of Wrath
Penguin. First published 1939
The few books of our own we had at home were either good Catholic stories about the saints and martyrs or leftish books belonging to my father. They lived on a little bookshelf attached to a bureau, which was my mother’s prized piece of furniture. The books were novels by American authors like Jack London, Howard Fast and John Steinbeck, which my father had read when he was young and reflected his own political leanings. I read Grapes of Wrath when I was 13 and I was enraged at the way the bankers and big corporations exploited the farmers, driving them into destitution. We were a Labour family, but it was reading that put flesh on the bones of my socialism.
Letters from Prison
Columbia Univ Press 1994
I think Gramsci is one of the most important political figures of the 20th century. Through him I came to understand how people consent to their own oppression. We only have to look around now to see how his concept of cultural hegemony works so effectively. The values of a particular class become the ‘common-sense’ values of all and ordinary folk identify their own good with that of the rich.
The Women’s Room
Virago. First published 1977
The 1970s produced many great feminist books – novels and political analysis about patriarchy, entrenched inequality and double sexual standards. Marilyn French made it all come alive in the pages of her novel. My courtroom experience was what blew open my own real understanding of the way women suffered multiple disadvantages in a society that was organised from the perspective of men.
ed Neil Astley
I have always loved poetry and read it regularly for pleasure. I like how a few words can be so expressive of profound emotion. This is a wonderful anthology and it includes some work of a friend, Mary Oliver, one of the great contemporary American poets.
Heart of Darkness
Penguin. First published 1899
This is the book to read about colonialism and racist exploitation. It tells the story of Marlow, who is commissioned to go to the Congo to bring back the disappeared Kurtz, a key figure in a European company that is sucking the natural resources out of central Africa. All the justifications for colonial occupation are rehearsed – bringing ‘civilisation’ to the natives. Now we describe it as bringing ‘democracy’. The film Apocalypse Now was a contemporary rendition of the tale. An unforgettable book.
A People’s History of the
Harper Perennial. First published 1980
Howard Zinn was one of the truly great men of America. He died recently, still a socialist and campaigner. His history of the United States is a challenge to the patriotic jingoism that mutes the horror stories of what happened to native Americans and slaves, the nightmare of McCarthyism and Jim Crow laws, the shame of his country’s role in Vietnam and South America. However, this is no ‘self-hating’ American Jew. He tells the wonderful true stories of America’s greatness – the former welcome to the world’s huddled masses fleeing persecution, the struggles by ordinary people for trade union rights and by black people for civil rights. All his books are inspirational but this is the one that everyone should read.
Penguin. First published 1925
Some books have eternal truths and should be revisited at regular intervals. This is one of them. My life as a trial lawyer has made me a firm believer in open processes with a jury of ordinary people hearing the evidence. Over many years I have done a large amount of terrorist work but this is the worst time I have ever known for injustice. Currently, control order cases and hearings to deport people are frequently heard in secret. Neither the detainees nor their lawyers of choice get to hear the evidence against them. Special advocates hear the secret evidence but are not allowed to discuss it with the detainee. Kafka is dead. Long live Kafka.
Helena Kennedy QC is a leading barrister and expert in human rights law and civil liberties
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
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