Previous Shortlists

The 2013 Shortlist

2013 AWARD WINNER
‘Scattered Sand: The Story of China’s Rural Migrants’
by Hsiao-Hung Pai
(Verso, 2012)

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Each year, 200 million workers from China’s vast rural interior travel between cities and regions in search of employment: the largest human migration in history. This indispensable army of labor contributes half of China’s GDP, but is an unorganized workforce – ‘scattered sand’ – and the most marginalized and impoverished group of workers in the country.

For two years, the award-winning journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai traveled across China to uncover the exploitation of workers at locations as diverse as Olympic construction sites and brick kilns in the Yellow River region, the factories of the Pearl River Delta and the suicide-ridden Foxconn complex. She witnessed AIDS-afflicted families and towns; recorded acts of labor militancy; and was reunited with long-lost relatives, estranged since her mother’s family fled for Taiwan during the Civil War. What she finds is a peasantry expected to sacrifice itself for the sake of national glory – just as it was under Mao.

‘What We Are Fighting For: A Radical Collective Manifesto’
edited by Federico Campagna and Emanuele Campiglio
(Pluto, 2012) 

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The age of austerity has brought a new generation of protesters on to the streets across the world. As the economic crisis meets the environmental crisis, millions fear what the future will bring but also dare to dream of a different society.

What We Are Fighting For tries to answer the question that the mainstream media loves to ask the protesters. The first radical, collective manifesto of the new decade, it brings together some of the key theorists and activists from the new networked and creative social movements. Contributors include Owen Jones, David Graeber, John Holloway, Nina Power, Mark Fisher, Franco Berardi Bifo and Marina Sitrin.

Chapters outline the alternative vision that animates the new global movement – from ‘new economics’ and ‘new governance’ to ‘new public’ and ‘new social imagination’. The book concludes by exploring ‘new tactics of struggle’.

‘No-Nonsense Guide to Equality’
by Danny Dorling
(New Internationalist , 2012) 

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A wide-ranging exploration of why inequality persists and what can be done about it. The No-Nonsense Guide to Equality discusses the positive effects that equality can have, using examples and case studies from across the globe, including many from the UK. It examines the lessons of history and covers race, gender and ethnicity, age, and wealth. Danny Dorling considers, realistically, just how equal it is possible to be, the challenges we face, and the factors that will lead to greater equality for all.

‘A People’s History of the Second World War: Resistance Versus Empire’
by Donny Gluckstein
(Pluto, 2012)

A-People-s-History-of-the-Second-World-War-Gluckstein-Donny-9780745328034  

A People’s History of the Second World War unearths the fascinating history of the war as fought ‘from below’. Until now, the vast majority of historical accounts have focussed on the conflict between the Allied and Axis powers for imperialist mastery. Donny Gluckstein shows that in fact between 1939 and 1945 two distinct wars were fought – one ‘from above’ and one ‘from below’.

Using examples from countries under the Nazi heel, in the colonies and within the Axis and Allied camps, Gluckstein brings to life the very different struggle of the people’s and resistance movements which proliferated during the war. He shows how they fought not just fascism, but colonialism and empire, and were betrayed by the Allies at the war’s end.

This book will fundamentally challenge our understanding of the Second World War – both about the people who fought it and the reasons for which it was fought.

‘Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark: Corporate and Police Spying on Activists’
by Eveline Lubbers
(Pluto Press, 2012)

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The exposure of undercover policeman Mark Kennedy in the eco-activist movement revealed how the state monitors and undermines political activism. This book shows the other grave threat to our political freedoms – undercover activities by corporations.

Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark documents how corporations are halting legitimate action and investigation by activists. Using exclusive access to previously confidential sources, Eveline Lubbers shows how companies such as Nestlé, Shell and McDonalds use covert methods to evade accountability. She argues that corporate intelligence gathering has shifted from being reactive to pro-active, with important implications for democracy itself.

Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark will be vital reading for activists, investigative and citizen journalists, and all who care about freedom and democracy in the 21st century.

‘Why It’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions’ 
by Paul Mason
(Verso, 2012)

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Originally published in 2012 to wide acclaim, this updated edition, Why It’s STILL Kicking Off Everywhere, includes coverage of the most recent events in the wave of revolt and revolution sweeping the planet – riots in Athen, student occupations in the UK, Quebec and Moscow, the emergence of the Occupy Movement and the tumult of the Arab Spring.

Economic crisis, social networking and a new political consciousness have come together to ignite a new generation of radicals. BBC journalist and author Paul Mason combines the anecdotes gleaned through first-hand reportage with political, economic and historical analysis to tell the story of today’s networked revolution. Why It’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere not only addresses contemporary struggles, it provides insights into the future of global revolt.

‘Autonomy: The cover designs of Anarchy 1961-1970′
edited by Daniel Poyner
(Hyphen Press, 2012)

autonomy

Prominent among the themes of the journal Anarchy were education, the urban environment, work, workers self-organization, crime, psychology, as well as anarchist traditions and history; attention was given to literature, theatre, and cinema. Although its contributors were many and diverse, Anarchy was essentially the creation of one person, Colin Ward (1924-2010). With this journal, and throughout his work as a writer, editor, and activist, Ward proposed the idea that anarchist principles of mutual aid and autonomous organization outside a centralized state can be achieved here and now and are already at work all around us. The title of this book Autonomy takes up a defining idea of anarchism, as well as using again the word that Colin Ward had intended to be the title of his journal. Autonomy gives attention for the first time to the covers of Anarchy, designed mostly by Rufus Segar.

These little-known covers or wrappers front and back were often conceived as a continuous unit provided the enticing entry to the plain text pages inside. The book reproduces all of them in a sequence that suggests, incidentally, something of the history of graphic design in Britain in those years. The book gives a full picture of Anarchy. Daniel Poyner introduces the journal and its editor, and gives a transcript of his extended interview with Rufus Segar. We reprint a sparkling account of Anarchy by the late Raphael Samuel. The covers and their place in graphic design history are considered by the designer Richard Hollis. To round off the book, a full author and article index of Anarchy is provided. Autonomy writes a new chapter in graphic design history, based in a rich and unexpected source.

‘Alienation: An Introduction to Marx’s Theory’
by Dan Swain
(Bookmarks, 2012)

alienation

We live in a world in which human capacity to transform and control our lives has never been greater. Yet for most people the world is radically outside of their control. Their lives are dictated by the demands of employers and politicians. This is the phenomenon of alienation that the young radical Karl Marx began to diagnose in the early 1840s and remained pre-occupied with throughout his life. This accessible guide to the central aspect of Marx’s philosophy takes the reader through the development of the concept and its relevence today.

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2012 AWARD WINNER
Debt: The First 5,000 Years
David Graeber
Melville House, £21.99 (Hardback)

Debt cover imageContrary to the fairytales told in economic textbooks, human beings didn’t start with barter, discover money, and then develop credit systems. In fact, as anarchist and anthropologist David Graeber argues in this wide-ranging work, drawing on a vast panoply of evidence, exactly the reverse is true. Moreover – and whether we recognise it or not – debt has been at the heart of our political and moral systems ever since. More information about Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Counterpower: Making Change Happen
Tim Gee
New Internationalist, £9.99

Counterpower cover imageWhat makes some campaigns succeed while others fail? In this accessible primer on power and rebellion, Tim Gee encourages us to think critically about the forces at work in struggles as diverse as the women’s suffrage movement and the Arab Spring. Counterpower provides today’s activists with inspiration for the future. More information about Counterpower

Tweets from Tahrir: Egypt’s Revolution as it Unfolded, in the Words of the People Who Made It
edited by Nadia Idle and Alex Nunns
OR Books, £8.00

Tweets from Tahrir cover imageThe story of the Egyptian uprising – through the toppling of Mubarak – by the people who made it, told in 140-or-fewer-character Tweets. Editors Nadia Idle and Alex Nunns have created an inspiring and coherent narrative that not only explains the evolving strategies of both sides but also allows the participants’ personalities to shine through. More information about Tweets from Tahrir

Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class
Owen Jones
Verso, £14.99

Chavs cover imageIn order to deflect blame from their own role in increasing inequality and decreasing social mobility, Britain’s political and media elites have wilfully promoted the notion of the working class as an object of fear and ridicule. Expertly researched and highly topical, Owen Jones’ book is already a bestseller in radical bookshops around the UK. More information about Chavs

Magical Marxism
Andy Merrifield
Pluto Press, £17.99

Magical Marxism cover imageUrban theorist Andy Merrifield imagines a Marxism that moves beyond the stale debates about class and the role of the state, drawing inspiration from – and connections between – The Invisible Committee’s ‘The Coming Insurrection’, Guy Debord’s ‘Society of the Spectacle’ and Gabriel García Márquez’s ‘Hundred Years of Solitude’. Highly readable. More information about Magical Marxism

Penny Red: Notes from the New Age of Dissent
Laurie Penny
Pluto Press, £12.99

Penny Red cover imageWhether filing a report from inside a police kettle in Whitehall or analysing the feminist implications of Stieg Larsson’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, Laurie Penny’s writing is always sharp as a knife. Angry and articulate, this is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand and engage with the new generation of UK activists. More information about Penny Red

Treasure Islands : Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World
Nicholas Shaxson
Vintage, £8.99

Treasure Islands cover imageNicholas Shaxson’s exposé of the mechanics of tax havens reveals a collusion between governments and the wealthy that perverts democracy, sidesteps the law, and leaves the poorest paying the price. Clear, gripping and incendiary, this is an essential primer for anyone trying to understand today’s global economy. More information about Treasure Islands

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