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Lincoln, Marx and the struggle against slavery

An Unfinished Revolution: Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln

by By Robin Blackburn
(Verso Press,
2011;
$19.95)

Marx did not support the North because he believed that its victory would directly lead to socialism. Rather, he saw in South and North two species of capitalism — one allowing slavery, the other not. The then existing regime of American society and economy embraced the enslavement of four million people whose enforced toil produced the republic’s most valuable export, cotton, as well as much tobacco, sugar, rice, and turpentine. Defeating the slave power was going to be difficult. The wealth and pride of the 300,000 slaveholders (there were actually 395,000 slave owners, according to the 1860 Census, but at the time Marx was writing this had not yet been published) was at stake.

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Tecumseh & Brock: The antidote to Harper's War of 1812 propaganda

Tecumseh & Brock: The War of 1812

by James Laxer
(House of Anansi,
2012;
$29.95)

Stephen Harper’s interest in communicating his version of Canada’s past has been on full display this year, with his government spending lavishly on celebrations of the War of 1812.

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Michael Kluckner's new book examines a vanishing Vancouver

Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years

by Michael Kluckner
(Whitecap Books,
2012;
$35.00)

I’m amazed by how much change I’ve witnessed in the short time I’ve lived in this city. The Vancouver I know is one of unceding growth, all glass towers and a headlong rush toward the new, new, new. The art deco buildings I remember seeing on visits to the city just 10 years ago are already gone, replaced by mixed-use condos and a Vancouverism that aggressively pushes upwards.

In Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years, author Michael Kluckner pushes back, back in time and back against the disappearing city he clearly fell in love with. It’s a follow-up to his award-winning 1990 book by the same name that examined the changing city in the wake of Expo ’86.

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Jason Kenney's summer reading: White Canada and the Komagata Maru

Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru

Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru, An Illustrated History

by Ali Kazimi
(Douglas & McIntyre,
2012;
$39.95)

As Parliament passes sweeping, repressive immigration legislation, Toronto filmmaker Ali Kazimi's timely book, Undesirables, is a welcome and necessary contribution that should be required reading not only for Jason Kenney and his cohorts, but also those good-hearted folks who claim the new law violates Canada's mythic "humanitarian traditions."

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Confronting Canada's colonialist past

Orienting Canada: Race, Empire, and the Transpacific

by John Price
(UBC Press,
2011;
$34.95)

In Orienting Canada, John Price, professor of history at the University of Victoria focuses on 20th century racism and on Canada's role as junior partner in British and U.S. imperialism. This is a work of scholarship and an engrossing narrative that should be widely read.

Anti-Asian racism in Canada in the first half of the 20th century has been well documented. Immigrants from China, Japan, and India faced head taxes and outright prohibitions. Laws excluded Canadians of Asian origins from neighbourhoods, post-secondary education and professions. Japanese Canadians were forcibly removed from coastal areas during World War II.

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Reflections on Germany's Red Army Faction

Book cover: The Red Army Faction

The Red Army Faction, A Documentary History - Volume 1: Projectiles For the People

by J. Smith and André Moncourt, eds.
(PM Press/Kersplebedeb co-publication,
2009;
$34.95)

As euro zone economic turbulence continues, German political manoeuvring at the EU now faces unprecedented scrutiny.

Over the past year German politicians, specifically Chancellor Angela Merkel, have emerged in the international media as prominent symbols of a highly contested EU economic austerity agenda.

Conservative policies that move to cut funds to public institutions are a focus of great debate across the EU, from the halls of power in Brussels and Berlin, to the mass street protests in Athens and Madrid.

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Witch hunts past and present

Witches, Midwives & Nurses: A History of Women Healers

by Deirdre English and Barbara Ehrenreich
(Feminist Press,
2010;
$10.95)

In the classic zine Witches, Midwives & Nurses: A History of Women Healers, republished as a book with a new introduction in 2010, authors Deirdre English and Barbara Ehrenreich provide an overview of the repression and exclusion of women lay healers in Europe and the United States. The authors explore the connection between the witch hunts in Europe and attempts to eliminate and discredit women healers, as well as the rise of an elitist and male-dominated medical establishment in the United States.

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The making of a people

 When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?

When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?

by Shlomo Sand
( Verso,
2009;
)

No one is more surprised than Shlomo Sand that his latest academic work has spent 19 weeks on Israel's bestseller list — and that success has come to the history professor despite his book challenging Israel's biggest taboo.

Dr. Sand argues that the idea of a Jewish nation — whose need for a safe haven was originally used to justify the founding of the state of Israel — is a myth invented little more than a century ago.

An expert on European history at Tel Aviv University, Dr. Sand drew on extensive historical and archaeological research to support not only this claim but several more — all equally controversial.

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Haiti's lost years

 Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment

Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment

by Peter Hallward
( Verso,
2008;
$37.50)
The story of the international community's role in Haiti over the last four years has been told almost solely through global independent media networks and by the alternative press. For Canadians, the story of their government's leading role in the planning, funding and military execution of the 2004 coup d'etat that removed Haiti's democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide reached its audience as a result the meticulous, diligent, and usually unpaid work of independent journalists and researchers, many of which wrote often for publications such as The Dominion and rabble.ca.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media, as well as the vast majority of academia, remained utterly silent during the human rights catastrophe that followed the coup.

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In a villa in Marseille

 Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille

Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille

by Rosemary Sullivan
( HarperCollins,
2006;
$26.95)
IN THE HANDS of a more conservative writer than Rosemary Sullivan, a history of artists and intellectuals exiled by totalitarianism before and during the Second World War could be used to make the case for a cynical, quietist retreat from political engagement. After all, that is âe" to a large extent at least âe" what did happen, particularly in France, the primary site of Sullivanâe(TM)s Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille, where the pre-war revolutionist milieu became one of post-war Existentialism. (The case is well made by George Novack in the introduction to his Existentialism versus Marxism: Conflicting views on Humanism, and Sullivan, too, advances a version of the thesis).

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