The Guardian • Issue #2086

Worth Reading

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2086
Everyday Life in the North Korean Revolution.

Contemporary non-fiction

"Method and Madness: The Hidden Story of Israel’s Assaults on Gaza" book cover cropped.

Method and Madness: The Hidden Story of Israel’s Assaults on Gaza

Norman G Finkelstein (2014)

“One to consider given the current context. Finkelstein is a long-time scholar of apartheid in Palestine. This text is now a little out-of-date (e.g., in discussing media), but provides a solid overview of Israeli terror in Gaza during the later Obama years. The call to peaceful resistance at the conclusion of the book feels quite out of place given the realities of the current situation.”

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Ilan Pappé (2006)

“A relatively concise history of the ethnic cleansing, with a very strong focus on the Nakba. This text is incredibly relevant in understanding the horrors inflicted in Gaza and the West Bank today. The anecdote of the Palestinian village “gift from god” being turned into an Israeli rubbish dump was a striking lowlight. A must-read.”

Everyday Life in the North Korean Revolution.

Everyday Life in the North Korean Revolution

Suzy Kim (2013)

“An engaging and readable book, written in short but linked sections. Kim outlines the reality of life during the early Korean Revolution (prior to the Korean War), doing a lot with a relatively narrow set of sources (a product of the squashing of historical memory on both sides of the border and Korean social norms – the author interviewed men who participated in the Revolution, but couldn’t get women to agree to speak to her). In all, this is one of the best histories of this period written in English. It does not get bogged down at all in the politics of modern Korea and associated anti-communism. Within its scope it provides great detail, particularly on the experience of women. A must-read for anyone interested in Korean, post-colonial, and/or socialist history.”


Unequal Exchange and the Prospects of Socialism.

Unequal Exchange and the Prospects of Socialism

Communist Working Group (1988)

“This is a very good introductory text on the concept of unequal exchange and the third-worldist position on communist work in the Global North. It’s use of research and the works of Arghiri Emmanual (the thinker behind unequal exchange theory as we know it) is pretty unimpeachable. Despite being over 30 years old, it remains relevant and interesting. The emphasis the authors put on excluding socialist nations from the analysis (as tangential to the capitalist world-system) has improved its ongoing applicability but also compounds what a loss the Soviet Union was. It’s at its best in elucidating unequal exchange in an easily digestible manner. Its prescriptions are interesting, though as dour as many Maoist or Third-Worldist texts.”

Distant Star
Roberto Bolaño

Distant Star

Roberto Bolaño (1996)

“Distant Star is short and simple, but impactful. Set at the end of the Allende government, the story is engagingly strange, filled with the dark humour and cynicism that make Bolaño’s writings so unique and great. Particularly if you engage with the text outside of the ‘serial killer’ analysis and more as the revelation of the actually-existing brutality of Pinochet’s military, the narrative is deep, meaningful and sharp.”

Out of Italy– Fernand Braudel.

Out of Italy

Fernand Braudel (1989)

“This is a good introduction to Braudel’s writings on the longue durée, outlining the economic, social and cultural role of Italy in the development of Europe and, relatedly, the world-system from 1450 through 1650. If you’ve ever planned to read Civilization and Capitalism, or any of Braudel’s other works, this is a good primer on his style and Mediterranean fetishism.”

Ten Days That Shook The World

Ten Days That Shook The World

John Reed (1919)

“A masterpiece. It is no surprise whatever that Reed was afforded a hero’s burial in the Soviet Union – its reputation as the preeminent eyewitness history of the Revolution is well-deserved. Ten Days That Shook The World is one of the most compelling first-hand histories available. It is removed enough from the central political figures of the Revolution to provide a broad outline of the happenings in Petrograd and Moscow during the periods that Reed was present, but also moves with an engaging pace, picking up the key events in October as it goes. It strikes a great balance between a general and people’s history – a must read for anyone with an interest.”


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