2015 AWARD WINNER
‘Here We Stand: Women Changing The World’, published by Honno Press, and edited by Helena Earnshaw and Angharad Penrhyn Jones.
‘Economics: The User’s Guide’ by Ha-Joon Chang (Pelican Introduction)
‘Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline’ edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen & Nawara Mahfoud (Saqi)
‘Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion’ by Tansy E. Hoskins (Pluto)
‘What the **** is Normal?!’ by Francesca Martinez (Ebury)
‘Private Island: Why Britain Now Belongs to Someone Else’ by James Meek (Verso)
‘In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre’ by Lara Pawson (I.B. Tauris)
2014 AWARD WINNER
‘Soldier Box: Why I Won’t Return to the War on Terror’
by Joe Glenton
When the War on Terror began, Joe Glenton signed up to serve his nation. He passed through basic training and deployed to Afghanistan in 2006. What he saw overseas left him disillusioned, and he returned manifesting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Refusing a second tour, he went AWOL and left the country, but returned voluntarily to fight his case, with the military accusing him of desertion. Despite being threatened with years in prison, he continued to speak out and won the support of many of his fellow soldiers.
Unsparingly honest and powerfully written, Glenton’s account of his personal war against an unjust occupation is the true story of an ordinary soldier standing up for his convictions, refusing to take part in a pointless conflict, and taking on the military establishment.
THE 2014 SHORTLIST
‘Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police’
by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis
(Faber and Faber, 2013)
The gripping stories of a group of police spies – written by the award-winning investigative journalists who exposed the Mark Kennedy scandal – and the uncovering of forty years of state espionage.
This was an undercover operation so secret that some of our most senior police officers had no idea it existed. The job of the clandestine unit was to monitor British ‘subversives’ – environmental activists, anti-racist groups, animal rights campaigners. Police stole the identities of dead people to create fake passports, driving licences and bank accounts. They then went deep undercover for years, inventing whole new lives so that they could live incognito among the people they were spying on. They used sex, intimate relationships and drugs to build their credibility. They betrayed friends, deceived lovers, even fathered children. And their operations continue today.
‘Undercover’ reveals the truth about secret police operations – the emotional turmoil, the psychological challenges and the human cost of a lifetime of deception – and asks whether such tactics can ever be justified.
‘Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup against Salvador Allende, 11 September 1973’
by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera
On 11 September 1973, President Salvador Allende of Chile, Latin America’s first democratically elected Marxist president, was deposed in a violent coup d’état. Early that morning the phone lines to Allende’s office were cut, army officers loyal to the republic were arrested and shortly afterwards bombs from four British-made Hawker Hunter jets began slamming into the presidential palace. Allende refused to leave his post, making broadcasts to encourage the Chilean people until the last pro-government radio station was silenced. Later that morning he was found dead, with an AK-47 that had been a gift from Fidel Castro by his side.
The coup had been planned for months, even years before it actually happened. In fact, from the moment Allende’s electoral victory in 1970 became a possibility, business leaders in Chile, extreme right-wing groups, high-ranking officers in the Chilean military and the US administration and the CIA worked together to secure a prompt and dramatic end to his progressive social programme.
Why Allende seemed such a threat in the political and economic context of the time and how the coup was engineered is the story Oscar Guardiola-Rivera tells, drawing on a wide range of sources, including phone transcripts and documents released as recently as 2008. It is a radical retelling of a moment in history that even at the height of Cold War paranoia – a time when Henry Kissinger described Chile as ‘a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica’ –shocked the world and which continues to resonate today. As the uprisings of the Arab Spring and the global protests at austerity measures introduced since the crash of 2008 show, the world is struggling to deal with the economic and political dilemmas Allende faced at the time.
‘Who Needs the Cuts? : Myths of the Economic Crisis’
by Barry Kushner and Saville Kushner
(Hesperus Press, 2013)
The Coalition Government in the United Kingdom, like other governments, is embarking on an unprecedented round of spending cuts. Talk of deficits, the National Debt, Quantitative Easing and other economic terminology is presented to the public as evidence that there is a vital need for some of the most drastic public-sector cuts we have ever faced.
In this highly-readbale book, Barry and Saville Kushner show clearly and convincingly that there is an alternative story that is not being told. There is a view of the economic events of the past five years that does not see the UK in debt crisis. It offers choice, differences of opinion, uncertainty and hope. It takes us on a different voyage, one beyond economics into politics and visions of society, our expectations and ambitions.
‘No Place to Call Home: Inside the Real Lives of Gypsies and Travellers’
by Katharine Quarmby
The shocking, poignant story of rejection, eviction and the fight for a home.
They are reviled. For centuries the Roma have wandered Europe; during the Holocaust half a million were killed. After World War II and during the Troubles, a wave of Irish Travellers moved to England to make a better, safer life. They found places to settle down – but then, as Occupy was taking over Wall Street and London, the vocal Dale Farm community in Essex was evicted from their land. Many did not leave quietly; they put up a legal and at times physical fight.
Award-winning journalist Katharine Quarmby takes us into the heat of the battle, following the Sheridan, McCarthy, Burton and Townsley families before and after the eviction, from Dale Farm to Meriden and other trouble spots. Based on exclusive access over the course of seven years and rich historical research, ‘No Place to Call Home’ is a stunning narrative of long-sought justice.
‘Cancel the Apocalypse: The New Path to Prosperity’
by Andrew Simms
(Little, Brown, 2013)
Ever get the feeling that things are falling apart? You’re not alone. From bad banks to global warming, it can all look hopeless, but what if everything could turn out, well, even better than before? What if the only thing holding us back is a lack of imagination and a surplus of old orthodoxies?
It’s a topsy-turvy world in which a country can import the same amount of ice-cream, toilet paper and other goods as it exports, and where top bankers are paid millions for destroying economic value, while hospital cleaners create value many times their pay.
In fascinating and iconoclastic detail – on everything from the cash in your pocket to the food on our plates and the shape of our working lives – ‘Cancel the Apocalypse’ describes how the relentless race for economic growth is not always one worth winning, how excessive materialism has come at a terrible cost to our environment, and hasn’t even made us any happier in the process.
Simms believes passionately in the human capacity for change, and shows how the good life remains in our grasp. While global warming and financial meltdown might feel like modern day horsemen of the apocalypse, Simms shows how such end of the world scenarios offer us the chance for a new beginning.
‘Revolting Subjects: Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain’
by Imogen Tyler
(Zed Books, 2013)
‘Revolting Subjects’ is a groundbreaking account of social abjection in contemporary Britain, exploring how particular groups are figured as ‘revolting’ and how they in turn ‘revolt’ against their subjectification. The book utilises a number of high-profile and in-depth case studies – including ‘chavs’, asylum seekers, Gypsies, anarchists and the disabled – to examine the ways in which individuals and groups negotiate restrictive, neoliberal ideologies of selfhood. In doing so, Tyler argues for a deeper psycho-social understanding of the role of aesthetic and representational forms in producing marginality, social exclusion and injustice, whilst also showing how it can be a creative resource for resistance.
Imaginative and original, ‘Revolting Subjects’ introduces a range of new insights into neoliberal societies, and will be essential reading for those concerned about widening inequalities, growing social unrest and social justice in the wider global context.
2013 AWARD WINNER
‘Scattered Sand: The Story of China’s Rural Migrants’
by Hsiao-Hung Pai
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.
THE 2013 SHORTLIST
‘What We Are Fighting For: A Radical Collective Manifesto’
edited by Federico Campagna and Emanuele Campiglio
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)
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
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)
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
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)
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
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.
2012 AWARD WINNER
Debt: The First 5,000 Years
Melville House, £21.99 (Hardback)
Contrary 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
2012 AWARD SHORTLIST
Counterpower: Making Change Happen
New Internationalist, £9.99
What 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
The 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
In 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
Pluto Press, £17.99
Urban 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
Pluto Press, £12.99
Whether 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’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