Title: C.L.R. James
Author: Dave Renton
Publisher: Haus Publishing
Spartacus Website: C. L. R. James
Cyril Lionel Robert James was the great intellectual of the African revolution. He was a friend and inspiration to Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere, the two leaders of the first generation of independence struggles. His account of Toussaint L'Ouverture's slave rebellion in Haiti is one of the great historical works of the twentieth century. His studies of Hegel and Marx became part of the common knowledge of several generations of radicals in America, Europe, the Caribbean and Africa. Although born in Trinidad, his thought was also shaped by the experience of migration to Britain. James was a product of the colonial education system, a world which shaped him, even as he exposed and fought it. In Britain today, James is known as both for his radicalism and also for his extraordinary autobiography "Beyond a Boundary", by common consent, the greatest book about cricket ever written.
Title: Adam Smith
Author: James Buchan
Spartacus Website: Adam Smith
Adam Smith was long ago adopted as the father of a neo-conservative economic ideology, not least by Thatcher and Reagan. More recently, New Labour has tried to kidnap him as an ancestor. In a vigorous and informal book, James Buchan shows that Smith fits no modern political category. As befits the most accessible of all philosophers, this biography does entirely without jargon.
Title: Black Tom
Author: Andrew Hopper
Publisher: Manchester University Press
Spartacus Website: Thomas Fairfax
Sir Thomas Fairfax, not Oliver Cromwell, was creator and commander of Parliament's New Model Army from 1645 to 1650. Although Fairfax emerged as England's most successful commander of the 1640s, this book challenges the orthodoxy that he was purely a military figure, showing how he was not apolitical or disinterested in politics. The book combines narrative and thematic approaches to explore the wider issues of popular allegiance, puritan religion, concepts of honour, image, reputation, memory, gender, literature, and Fairfax's relationship with Cromwell. "Black Tom" delivers a groundbreaking examination of the transformative experience of the English revolution from the viewpoint of one of its leading, yet most neglected, participants. It is the first modern academic study of Fairfax, making it essential reading for university students as well as historians of the seventeenth century. Its accessible style will appeal to a wider audience of those interested in the civil wars and interregnum more generally.
Title: Before Night Falls
Author: Reinaldo Arenas
Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Spartacus Website: Reinaldo Arenas
This is the shocking memoir by visionary Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, giving an account of his life as a writer and a homosexual and his struggle for freedom of expression. He describes his poverty-stricken childhood in rural Cuba and his adolescence as a rebel fighting for Castro, his suppression as a writer, imprisonment as a homosexual, and his flight from Cuba via the Mariel boat lift. He never really reconciled himself to life in America away from the beloved country of his birth, and committed suicide in 1990 at the age of 47, already dying from Aids.