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The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain Became a Tax Haven for Fat Cats and Big Business
The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain Became a Tax Haven for Fat Cats and Big Business
by Richard Brooks
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We're All in it Together My Arse, 31 Mar 2013
While the coalition and their fellow travellers in the media hark on about structural deficits, the necessity of reforming (read: destroying) the already emaciated welfare state, and how over-taxing those poor souls earning 150K+ a year will bring ruin to the country, former tax inspector for Her Majesties Revenues & Customs (HMRC) and current Private Eye reporter Richard Brooks has been looking into the issue of taxation, in particular the levels of tax dodging by big, usually transnational business and obscenely rich individuals. The results of his investigations, informed by years of experience in Government, are collated together in "The Great Tax Robbery" and make extremely disturbing reading.

The opening chapter "Welcome to Tax Dodge City" with its series of graphs makes clear the dimensions of the problem, such as that during dozen years leading up to 2011 corporate profits have went up by over 50% but corporation tax receipts have been flat (and at a rate well below the headline rate of corporation tax). Over the same period the amount of corporation tax paid by small companies has increased from 15% of the total to 35% to the benefit of big (largely transnational) business. It also details the complete lack of correlation between tax rates and economic growth over time (in the UK) and across the OECD: in short the oft repeated canard that taxation will bring the economy to a grinding halt is to put it politely horses#!t.

The book goes on to explore how big business and wealthy individuals go about dodging taxation and looks into the four major accountancy firms which promote and arrange tax dodging (at the same time as profiting from government contracts); how the Public Private Partnerships, heartily embraced by the Blair/Brown government, have become a tax dodgers wet dream; the cosy relationship that grew up between HMRC and large business during the Blair era; how transfer pricing works; the links between the City of London and politicians from all parties, for instance 6 of the top 10 Tory donors make/made their money in the City; the fraudulent nature of coalition claims to be cracking down on tax dodging when in fact the exact opposite is happening; how the current tax regime warp the economy and privilege large corporations and the obscenely wealthy over smaller generally local businesses and ordinary working people.

One of the most disturbing revelations is the fact that individuals from companies that are clearly dodging taxes are being placed in positions to influence, if not write, new tax law and regulations. In a half way civilised society the facts revealed within would be a major and on-going scandal, instead we have occasional reporting that gives little idea of the whole picture. But what else can be expected from a media industry which is a member of the tax dodging fraternity itself?

Brooks puts the facts before the reader in a straightforward readable prose that is often dryly amusing, and has done well to describe the methods used by tax dodgers such as transfer pricing in a way that is comprehensible to the general reader. He also draws on a rich range of real world examples to illustrate his arguments. Overall this is a book I can hardly praise enough, one that deserves as wide a readership as possible and is indispensable to anyone interested in social justice or even just basic sense of decency. 110% Recommended.

An excellent companion volume to this book would be Nicholas Shasxson's Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World.


Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class
Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class
by Owen Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

26 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Review of Owen Jones "Chavs" From a Reviewer Who Read It!, 22 Mar 2013
I would hazard a guess that Owen Jones "Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class" is one of the worst reviewed books on Amazon. I speak with particular regard to the 1 & 2-star reviews, of which the majority appear not to have read beyond the books title, made the assumption that Jones regards Working Class and Chavs to be the same thing, got themselves worked up into no-end of a frenzy, rushed to their computer to post an asinine negative review. Interestingly enough, if one counts up the amount of Amazon verified purchases of the book (thus far) only 6 out of the 33 one and two-star reviews are verified purchases (18%), with regard to the five-star reviews 39 out of 82 are Amazon verified purchases (48%). Though hardly scientific proof, this would appear to suggest that a good many of the one and two-star reviewers are no more likely to have read a copy of the book than pie in the sky.

Anyway, that's enough of reviewing the reviews, onto the actual book itself. Jones point is straightforward: the most frequent representations of the working classes in the mass media are that of the Chav type. He is not saying that this type does not exist, or that every working class person is a Chav. Simply that the main media representation is that of Chav type, and that this fact strongly flavours popular perspectives of the lower orders. It is that simple.

The rest of the book, using a mixture of examples, interviews with various politicians, academics and others, looks at how the lower orders (of which incidentally I am one) have become such a marginalised, underpaid, disparaged and misrepresented segment of our society. Not surprisingly, at least not to anyone with the slightest knowledge of post war history, in particular the last thirty-five or so years, it is the changes wrought by the Thatcher administrations, continued under Major, followed by Blair, Brown and with gusto by the Cameron-Clegg crowd. Simply put working class organisations, built up over the preceding two centuries have been under continuous attack, the industrial and mining sectors of the economy, which provided a high level of quality working class employment were destroyed with varying degrees of culpability: with regard to mining this was virtually 100% intentional. At the same time benefits for those unfortunate to be unemployed or ill have declined in value, decent job opportunities are available to fewer than ever, wages have failed to keep up with productivity, housing has become increasingly problematic: expensive rental sector or an expensive mortgage, or an ever shrinking and harder to enter social housing sector.

Though definitely not a great work of theory, or academic in nature, Jones is quite capable of using the statistical evidence to underline his points, and includes data on such things as the growing disparities in wealth, the lower proportion of GDP going to wages (as opposed to the increasing share going to owners of capital), the effect of immigration on wages, etc.

In short Owen Jones has produced a fine piece of popular writing on a subject that is rarely tackled in the mainstream media. It is a fine entry level text for the general reader interested in the representations and realities of working class folks in these last thirty odd years, so forget the mindlessly negative reviews (and C.Pittards nit-picking 2-star screed which is currently the leading review) and just read it.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2013 1:20 AM BST


Albion's Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century England
Albion's Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century England
by Douglas Hay
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Law and the Lower Orders, 21 Feb 2013
Since its 1975 publication "Albion's Fatal Tree" has been widely (though not universally) regarded as a classic of historical writing, in particular that branch of history that is known as "history from below". This 2011 edition from Verso corrects the lamentable situation where it has been out of print for a number of years. In addition to the unchanged text from its initial release, the three surviving members of the five original contributors (E.P. Thompson and John Rule having died in 1993 and 2011 respectively) Douglas Hay, Peter Linebaugh and Cal Winslow write individual introductions reflecting on their time working with E.P. Thompson at Warwick University in the early 1970's, as well as the reception the work had at the time from established historians of Eighteenth century England.

Of the six essays two are the work of Douglas Hay: "Property, Authority and the Criminal Law" looks at the primary role of Law has in protecting both property and buttressing the authority of England's rulers. In particular it examines the role of the death sentence and, over the course of the century, the increasing chance of clemency being granted (followed by transportation), and how this affected popular attitudes with regard to the legitimacy of the ruling classes. His "Poaching and the Game Laws on Cannock Chase" is a detailed study of poaching and the response of "qualified" owners in a particular locale during the eighteenth century. This is a classic of its kind, and one that E.P. Thompson would emulate and take further with regard to Windsor and its environs in his Whigs and Hunters published in the same year.

A trenchant as ever Peter Linebaugh contributes "The Tyborn Riot Against the Surgeons" which details the struggle over the friends and family of those who ended up swinging from the gallows at Tyborn, and the Surgeons who wanted their corpses for the advancement of the science of anatomy. Other related issues touched upon include the attitudes of the lower orders to hanging, the rituals they adopted on their appointed day, and the responses of those who turned out to watch.

"Sussex Smugglers" is Cal Winslow's excellent account of the conflict between the state and smugglers in eighteenth century Sussex. A conflict that at times approached the level of a guerilla war. This is followed by John Rules "Wrecking and Coastal Plunder" which looks at the customs of coastal communities with regard to their perceived rights to plunder wrecked ships, their conflicts with the authorities. He also examines some of the myths around the practice, such as the largely fictitious belief, which functioned to stigmatise a practice that many Britons regarded as acceptable, that ships were onto rocks for the purposes of plunder.

The collection closes with E.P. Thompson's "The Crime of Anonymity" which analyses the phenomenon of anonymous letter writing by eighteenth century plebs for purposes ranging from blackmail to enforcing norms of behaviour on those who had authority over them. The increasing incidence after Paine and the French Revolution of anonymous handbills and the chalking of walls with messages of a more general political nature is also touched on. Thompson cites from many of those letters which are one of the few examples from the eighteenth century of the lower-orders speaking for themselves that have survived for posterity.

"Albion's Fatal Tree" is quite simply a brilliant and exemplary work of Social History. The many quotes cited, from above as well as below, bring the period to life for the reader. This was a period of great change, as England was becoming an increasingly commercial society, poised to enter the Industrial Revolution. The lower orders, as in all periods of change, generally suffer the most and the underlying reality that flows through this work, is that much that was customary to them, and provided them with a part of their livelihoods (from access to commons, to poaching and smuggling) was either being lost to the inexorable process of enclosure, or being treated before the authorities in increasingly brutal ways as the massive rise in "crimes" regarded by a property owning parliament as Capital makes clear. The fact that they fought back, had some successes though in the longer term the odds were stacked against them, forms the core of this book. The examples they provide of solidarity, guile and no-nonsense activism is often inspirational and undoubtedly part of its appeal. Thoroughly recommended.

Other books by the authors of "Albion's Fatal Tree" worth reading would include E.P. Thompson's three major works: The Making of the English Working Class, Whigs and Hunters and Customs in Common. Peter Linebaughs The London Hanged is a dense, detailed but fascinating account of the life's, livings and "crimes" of those who were hanged from the late seventeenth century onwards. The late John Rule is always worth reading, his two books on the eighteenth century Albion's People: English Society, 1714-1815 and The Vital Century: England's Economy, 1714-1815 are fine general studies of the period and none the worse for being unashamedly academic in the best sense of that word. His The Labouring Classes in Early Industrial England, 1750-1850 is a brilliant and comprehensive account of the Labouring classes in the period that leads up to and establishes an Industrial England.


Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan
Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan
by Kim Phillips-fein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 19.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Fifty Years of American "Conservatism", 16 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
New York University professor, occasional contributor to the Baffler and The Nation, Kim Phillips-Fein takes as her subject in "Invisible Hands" the history of the modern Conservative movement in the United States from its origins in opposition to the New Deal to the inauguration of the Reagan administration.

While I'm pretty sure Phillips-Feins sympathies are to the left, she manages to deal with the motley crew of Conservative activists, politicians and businessmen who make up the Conservative movement during the half century she covers in an impartial manner. She details the movement from its roots in opposition to the New Deal: that particular change in the political environment after the inauguration of FDR in 1933 to one that was conducive to the growth in the influence of ordinary working people (in particular their Unions), and a growing trend for (some) politicians to recognise that the ordinary Americans interest was not always identical to that of American Businesses.

The story continues with the second world war (during which conservative/business interests regained a degree of power and influence), the gradual post-war roll back of Unions and Liberal politics during the oppressive years of McCarthyism, through to the Goldwater run for the presidency in 1964. Goldwater failed in his run, but the victor - Lyndon Johnson - failed to keep out of Vietnam: the growing involvement in that miserable War and the financial costs undermined his "Great Society" program, the last substantial attempt by an American President to govern with a relatively Liberal domestic policy (which in a European sense would be roughly equivalent to a diluted version of Social Democracy). Within fifteen years of the Goldwater failure, the movement is backed by serious money, has parlayed that money into substantially successful attempts to win the war of ideas (through well funded think tanks and foundations), turned the focus of popular politics away from socio-economic issues to those of the so-called "Culture Wars", and has a congenial figurehead for the 1980 election campaign: Ronald Reagan. The rest is another story. . .

"Invisible Hands" is also excellent on the individuals involved from the ostensibly cerebral Milton Friedman and the Mont-Pelerin Society of von Hayek and von Mises, to the more combative characters such as Jesse Helms and Barry Goldwater. But this is far more than a study of individuals: it tells the story of the movement as it grew, and how the connections between the disparate elements of the movement coalesced (she plausibly makes a case for the failed Goldwater run for president in 1964 being critically important to that process) eventually leading to the Reagan presidency.

Kim Phillips-Fein has written a fine and scholarly work, which contains a substantial amount of research, is written in a clear and comprehensible manner, and it's her first book length publication. It is one I'd thoroughly recommend to anyone who has an interest in how Politics actually functions as opposed to the simplified storytelling which by and large passes for news.

Another excellent book on American Conservatism I'd recommend, though it leaps forward to the post-Reagan era, would be Thomas Franks account of Conservatives in power: The Wrecking Crew.


Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity (Politics, History, & Culture)
Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity (Politics, History, & Culture)
by Loic Wacquant
Edition: Paperback
Price: 16.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poverty and Punishment, 29 Aug 2012
Loic Wacquants dense and detailed book "Punishing the Poor" charts the changes in Public Welfare and Penal policies during the Neo-Liberal era. His critique is compelling: States have retreated from their responsibilities to the majority of the population in the economic sphere, turned welfare into machine for forcing workers into the ever growing precarious sector of the labour market, and dealt with those areas, classes and ethnicities who have suffered the most at the hands of the lack of stable employment opportunities and adequate social security with relentless and intruisive policing followed up with grotesque levels of incarceration.

The focus is primarily on the experience of the United States. Part 1 - "The Poverty of the Social State" details the welfare reforms of the post-civil rights era that culminated in the Clinton era "Workfare" act of 1996. With respect to the black population, as well as latinos, a strong case is made for regarding the changes to the labour market and welfare entitlements as functioning as a further stage of repression following slavery and the post-reconstruction "Jim Crow" era following the gains of the civil rights movements of the 1960's.

Part 2 - "Grandeur of the Penal State" charts the inexorable rise of incarceration during the Neoliberal era, the class and "race" dimensions of this immense (2,000,000+) penal obsession. Wacquant regards "workfare and prisonfare" as two sides of the same coin: workfare attacking the welfare of women to encourage them en masse to participate in a precarious labour market where they are no better off, and prisonfare as being the response to the troublesome lower class casualties of a Neoliberal economy that is not able, nor meant to, offer them employment or other prospects.

Part 3 - "Priviliged Targets" is divided into two distinct case studies, the first being "The Prison as Surrogate Ghetto" deals in further detail with black experience of the penal system; and "Moralism and Punitive Panopticism" engages with the subject of prison and sexual offenders in a refreshingly objective manner, charting the moral posturing of politicians and the media against a punitive regime that may well increase rates of recidivism, and arguing for a dispassionate, rigorously scientific re-look at the whole question of sexual offenders with a view to reducing rates of re-offending and providing the most effective protection of the public.

The final part "European Declinations" charts the growing European tendancy to follow the example of the United States. It begins with a comprehensive debunking of zero-tolerance policing in particular that of New Yorks Mayor Rudy Giuliani, before moving on to general European turn to a workfare and prisonfare state, with particular focus on the experience of Wacquants native France.

The biggest, but far from fatal, shortcoming of the book is the occasional descent into what might be regarded as academic jargon. The introduction is particularly guilty of this, but I would encourage readers to work their way through this as they will be rewarded with a fascinating and holistic account of the Neoliberal State and its relations (Penal and Welfare/Workfare) with those who have lost most during its seemingly inexorable rise. Well recommended.


Halliburton's Army How a Well-Connected
Halliburton's Army How a Well-Connected
by Pratap Chatterjee
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars "Don't Worry About Price It's Cost-Plus", 18 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
So was the catchphrase amongst management at that patriotic provider of military services Halliburton and their subsidiary Kellogs, Brown and Root who are the subject of this fine piece of muck-raking journalism by CorpWatch's Pratap Chatterjee.

The first part of Chatterjees "Haliburton's Army" patiently sets the context within which companies such as Halliburton were to become recepients of multi-billion dollar contracts during the Gulf War. The story of the two chief architects of the farming out of military services, Dick and Donald (Cheney and Rumsfeld), is laid before the readers in depressing detail, from their time together around the end of the Nixon administration on through the Ford administration to the period when they were vice-president and defence secretary in the Bush II administration. In between times Donald uses his government experience and a complete lack of scruples to push forward the agendas of private companies he works for, with occasional work for the Regan administration including cosying up with Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Dick runs for public office and has a political career that includes being Bush I's defence secretary, where his influential review sets the scene for contracting out military services, before going on to lead Halliburton for several years. There is also a review of the contracting out policies and experiences of the US military from World War Two onwards including Vietnam, the 1990-91 Gulf War onto the Balkans where the process really begins to take off.

The scene is now set for the crimes and misdemeanours to come, and come they do, by the tanker load. Overcharges for services provided and unprovided, massive price gouging on imported fuel, exploitation of third world nationals as well as their American who are variously uninsured, low waged and unpaid, lied to and expendable. Whistleblowers are not only harrassed out of Halliburton, but cast out of the military, all under the approving eye of the Bush II administration. While Chatterjee's focus is on Halliburton, he does range wider to look into the exploits of Halliburtons sub-contractors and "competitors".

This is a fine expose of an unscrupulous company in a mercanary business, sheltering under the umbrella of a corrupt and brutal administration during a scoundrel time. And though the Iraq fiasco has been consigned to the dust bin of history the lessons of this book are no doubt pertinent to current events in Afghanistan and god knows where else in the future.

Other books worth reading that cover similar territory would include T.Christian Millers Blood Money, and Jeremy Scahills Blackwater which looks at the even more disturbing world of privatised soldiers in Iraq.


The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783
The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783
by John Brewer
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fiscal-Military State: Britain 1688-1783, 15 Aug 2012
Many are the books on British history that cite John Brewers 1989 classic "The Sinews of Power" not infrequently in glowing terms, but the fact that it has been out of print since 1994, absent without leave from my local library, and hideously expensive second hand has meant that it is not until now (thanks to Oxfam) that I have been able to read this seminal work. It was definitely worth the wait.

"The Sinews of Power" charts the develpment of Britain into what he calls a "fiscal-military state" from the period of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the loss of their American colonies in 1783. Brewer is alive to the context within which this happened, a British State that was in increasingly in the hands of the propertied classes, primarily via the House of Commons, during a period when Britain was frequently at war with France. Against these two facts the development of a "peculiary British version of the fiscal-military state, complete with large armies and navies, industrious administrators, high taxes and huge debts" are laid out in detail.

Other developments that receive Brewers attention include the formation of a distinct Financial interest (The City) that recieved a large helping hand from the "high taxes and huge debts" that became necessary for the British state during its repeated wars with France. The changes in both taxation policy and how the debt evolved are discussed in detail, as are the changes in the source of taxation. In the earliest part of the period it is direct, in particular a land tax, that form the greater proportion of tax receipts. As time passes the emphasis changes to indirect taxation on popularly consumed items that are often, or regarded as, essential. There is also an interesting chapter on Government information and Lobbyists with many examples, going back to the 1690's, of Lobbying that are immediately recognisable to the twenty-first century reader.

This is a fine book, that provides a fascinating and detailed insight into the development of Britain during the eighteenth century with close attention paid to the military and fiscal dimensions. For anyone interested in British history, in particular how Britain found itself as the leading world power in the 19th century, this book is essential.

Readers unfamiliar with the period will probably find the following books more welcoming: English Society in the Eighteenth Century by Roy Porter, or J.H.Plumbs England in the Eighteenth Century which though dated in many of the particulars still rewards the reader with a fluent general account of the era. More detailed and unapologetically academic, in the best sense, are John Rules The Vital Century: England's Economy, 1714-1815 and Albion's People: English Society, 1714-1815.


The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783
The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783
by John Brewer
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fiscal-Military State: Britain 1688-1783, 15 Aug 2012
Many are the books on British history that cite John Brewers 1989 classic "The Sinews of Power" not infrequently in glowing terms, but the fact that it has been out of print since 1994, absent without leave from my local library, and hideously expensive second hand has meant that it is not until now (thanks to Oxfam) that I have been able to read this seminal work. It was definitely worth the wait.

"The Sinews of Power" charts the develpment of Britain into what he calls a "fiscal-military state" from the period of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the loss of their American colonies in 1783. Brewer is alive to the context within which this happened, a British State that was in increasingly in the hands of the propertied classes, primarily via the House of Commons, during a period when Britain was frequently at war with France. Against these two facts the development of a "peculiary British version of the fiscal-military state, complete with large armies and navies, industrious administrators, high taxes and huge debts" are laid out in detail.

Other developments that receive Brewers attention include the formation of a distinct Financial interest (The City) that recieved a large helping hand from the "high taxes and huge debts" that became necessary for the British state during its repeated wars with France. The changes in both taxation policy and how the debt evolved are discussed in detail, as are the changes in the source of taxation. In the earliest part of the period it is direct, in particular a land tax, that form the greater proportion of tax receipts. As time passes the emphasis changes to indirect taxation on popularly consumed items that are often, or regarded as, essential. There is also an interesting chapter on Government information and Lobbyists with many examples, going back to the 1690's, of Lobbying that are immediately recognisable to the twenty-first century reader.

This is a fine book, that provides a fascinating and detailed insight into the development of Britain during the eighteenth century with particular attention paid to the military and fiscal dimensions. For anyone interested in British history, in particular how Britain found itself as the leading world power in the 19th century, this book is essential.

Readers unfamiliar with the period will probably find the following books more welcoming: English Society in the Eighteenth Century by Roy Porter, or J.H.Plumbs England in the Eighteenth Century which though dated in many of the particulars still rewards the reader with a fluent general account of the era. More detailed and unapologetically academic, in the best sense, are John Rules The Vital Century: England's Economy, 1714-1815 and Albion's People: English Society, 1714-1815 (Social and Economic History of England).


The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783
The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783
by John Brewer
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The Fiscal-Military State: Britain 1688-1783, 15 Aug 2012
Many are the books on British history that cite John Brewers 1989 classic "The Sinews of Power" not infrequently in glowing terms, but the fact that it has been out of print since 1994, absent without leave from my local library, and hideously expensive second hand has meant that it is not until now (thanks to Oxfam) that I have been able to read this seminal work. It was definitely worth the wait.

"The Sinews of Power" charts the develpment of Britain into what he calls a "fiscal-military state" from the period of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the loss of their American colonies in 1783. Brewer is alive to the context within which this happened, a British State that was in increasingly in the hands of the propertied classes, primarily via the House of Commons, during a period when Britain was frequently at war with France. Against these two facts the development of a "peculiary British version of the fiscal-military state, complete with large armies and navies, industrious administrators, high taxes and huge debts" are laid out in detail.

Other developments that receive Brewers attention include the formation of a distinct Financial interest (The City) that recieved a large helping hand from the "high taxes and huge debts" that became necessary for the British state during its repeated wars with France. The changes in both taxation policy and how the debt evolved are discussed in detail, as are the changes in the source of taxation. In the earliest part of the period it is direct, in particular a land tax, that form the greater proportion of tax receipts. As time passes the emphasis changes to indirect taxation on popularly consumed items that are often, or regarded as, essential. There is also an interesting chapter on Government information and Lobbyists with many examples, going back to the 1690's, of Lobbying that are immediately recognisable to the twenty-first century reader.

This is a fine book, that provides a fascinating and detailed insight into the development of Britain during the eighteenth century with particular attention paid to the military and fiscal dimensions. For anyone interested in British history, in particular how Britain found itself as the leading world power in the 19th century, this book is essential.

Readers unfamiliar with the period will probably find the following books more welcoming: English Society in the Eighteenth Century by Roy Porter, or J.H.Plumbs England in the Eighteenth Century which though dated in many of the particulars still rewards the reader with a fluent general account of the era. More detailed and unapologetically academic, in the best sense, are John Rules The Vital Century: England's Economy, 1714-1815 and Albion's People: English Society, 1714-1815 (Social and Economic History of England).


The Punishment of Gaza
The Punishment of Gaza
by Gideon Levy
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.19

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Honourable Israeli, 8 Aug 2012
This review is from: The Punishment of Gaza (Paperback)
"The Punishment of Gaza" is a collection of forty shortish articles written by the brave and honourable Israeli journalist Gideon Levy. The focus of the articles is on the Israels continued aggression against the Gaza strip, despite having "withdrawn" in 2005, during the period from 2006 to summer 2009.

Levy tackles his subject in a wonderfully direct and principled manner, his anger is palpable and his scorn searing. It is hard to imagine a non-Israeli writing in this voice, though it is one that is totally justified.

The collection crescendos with Levy's articles on what is perhaps the most brutal and bloody concentration of violence against the Palestinian people since the formation of Israel in 1947-48. Levy doesnt mince his words on Cast Lead, and is scathing about the politicians who commissioned the slaughter, the army who executed it and the cheer leaders in the Israeli media who egged them on. These pieces dealing with operation "Cast Lead" and its aftermath are amongst the most powerfull, direct and urgent pieces within this collection.

In short this a fine collection of the thoughts of one Israeli journalist on the brutality of his countries behaviour with regard to the Palestinians imprisoned in Gaza. There are no doubt other books of a more analytical nature that give a fuller picture of the events covered by Levy, but they are unlikely to be approached by a writer with such an appetite for justice.

For readers interested in learning more about the Gaza strip I would recommend any of Sara Roys book such as Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza and Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Other Israeli writers that are well worth reading would include the late Tanya Reinhart (The Road Map to Nowhere) and Avi Shlaim (The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World).


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