This new intellectual and political biography of Lev Davidovitch doesn’t pretend to bring sensational new discoveries from the archives in Moscow, but it gives us a wonderful introduction to the ideas and struggles of the founder of the Red Army. Sympathetic but even-handed, it emphasizes the greatness of the revolutionary thinker and leader, without ignoring his shortcomings. The hostile biographers, from Robert Service to Peter Beilherz are criticized and rejected, but their arguments are considered with attention. In short, this is a most intelligent and insightful presentation of Trotsky’s thought and historical action.
Paula Rabinowitz exquisite and startling new book about the “golden age” of U.S. pulp publishing, from the late 1930s to the early 1960s, is rightly confident in the originality of its enterprise. Gorgeously illustrated, American Pulp audaciously sets in motion at least a half-dozen crisscrossing storylines to create a new cartography of pulp performance.
For a woman often described by men as “too abrasive,” “formidable,” and “too ambitious,” Barbara Ransby’s incisive biography provides a more nuanced picture of Eslanda Robeson.
The meteoric rise of Chinese capitalism over the past two decades has elicited myriad responses by mainstream and left commentators. From neoconservatives decrying the rise of the “red dragon” to leftists seeking to find socialist diamonds in the rough of “the sweatshop of the world,” enormous confusion has been sparked by the seeming contradiction of the world’s largest self-proclaimed “communist” party leading its nation in capitalist dynamism.
Cinzia Arruzza’s Dangerous Liaisons is an ambitious attempt to give a brief history of the interrelation between the 18th to 20th century women’s, labor and left anti-capitalist movements in the UK and Europe, and the theoretical debates in that same period about the interconnection between male and class domination and exploitation.
The re-issuing of Marxism and the Oppression of Women: Toward a Unitary Theory, 30 years after its initial publication, is a chance for socialist feminists to review the legacy of the Marxist tradition in theorizing the secondary status of women. Vogel’s study stands out for its thorough research and critical inspection of Marx’s and Engels’ discussion of women’s oppression, and how their views evolved.
The “Russian question,” that is, the question of the nature of the Soviet Union, dominated much of Marxist debate throughout the twentieth century as first anarchists and Leninists, and later Trotskyists and Stalinists, and then Maoists argued about the economic, social, and political character of Soviet Russia (and then also of Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea).
In the mostly forgotten history of early twentieth-century movements for sexual freedom, Magnus Hirschfeld’s name is one of the most familiar—and one of the most contested. As a Jewish scientist who championed sexual deviants, he made a perfect target for the Nazis, who were tragically successful in extirpating much of his life’s work. In Western Europe today, where gay rights is virtually a civic religion, he risks becoming one of its plaster saints; the Federal Republic of Germany established an official, publicly funded Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation in 2011.
Naomi Klein’s latest book is well on its way to becoming a bestseller. Deeply and meticulously researched, well-written and engaging, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate was timed to come out a week before the September 2014 UN Climate Summit and the People’s Climate March in New York City.
First published as a series of essays in the London Review of Books, this is a provocative book that deftly cuts through the mythologies of Indian nationalism. The essays and the book have elicited several critical responses from Indian readers; this review concludes with a defense of Anderson’s core project and pace a few of his detractors. Taken together, these essays offer a challenge to Indian intellectuals, particularly of the Left, to break decisively with a set of ideas that make up what Anderson calls the Indian Ideology. The Indian Ideology relies on and reinforces a series of myths that project India as having miraculously achieved what other post-colonial nations have not: a functioning democracy, a secular state, and a united body politic. Anderson’s critique takes in a wide range of scholarship to systematically demolish each one of this triune of cherished myths.