BEHIND THE scare stories in the press about asylum and immigration there is a real story to be told. It is the story of how, for centuries, people have been forced to move thousands of miles to escape persecution or find work.
Valerie Martin’s novel Property tells the story of a slave revolt on a sugar plantation in the US Deep South. Manon, the planter's wife, narrates it. Manon misses the excitement and culture of New Orleans, where she was brought up. More than anything she wants to be free of her boorish husband. She is appalled by his violence and sadistic cruelty and contrasts him with her father, who had a paternalistic attitude to his slaves. In the background there are rumours of slave rebellion.
In the new "reality" TV series Masters and Servants, two families take turns at being the masters and then the servants. In the first programme the posh Cheryl Allen Stevens and her husband showed themselves to be arrogant, disdainful and willing to humiliate those they thought beneath them.
Tony Saint Serpent's Tail £10
Heard of James Jameson? No? How about Joe Messina, heard of him? He's one of the white guys. Still nothing? Never mind. How about Joe White? No? Well, don't worry, I didn't know who they were either. Though I suspect a number of aficionados are already smiling and ready to name the dozen or so most significant musicians in popular music for the last 50 years.
WATCHING THE powerful new film Buffalo Soldiers reminded me of the time I worked at the Passport Office in London in the mid-1980s. Once or twice a month I had the job of opening up the Ministry of Defence internal mailbag. Inside were a number of passports that had to be deleted. They were the passports of dead British soldiers. A large number contained letters from army friends or commanding officers explaining their fate. Many were killed in the most horrific ways during military exercises. Others were a result of mundane accidents on military bases. I was always sad cutting off the corners of these passports and stamping them "Cancelled". The needless death of young soldiers is one
Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (£7.99)
Good Bye Lenin! Director: Wolfgang Becker
The Hour of Two Lights by Terry Hall and Mushtaq
Vive la Revolution by Mark Steel is a lively and witty history of the French Revolution. It is an accessible history which reclaims the 1789 revolution from the widely held idea that it was a period of terror, murder and mayhem. Steel celebrates the revolution as a time when masses of disenfranchised people played a part in radically changing the society in which they lived.
The film Etre et Avoir (To Be and To Have) should be required watching for all New Labour politicians. It might enlighten those who believe education can be reduced to a barracks regime of testing designed to fit young people for the needs of employers. Etre et Avoir follows in great detail the life of a real school in the French countryside. The school is tiny so there are children from four years old to ten in a single classroom.
Why did you write What Next?
THERE HAS been an explosion of ideas and debate in the anti-capitalist and anti-war movements. People are hungry for answers, and words have been poured over the inequality, misery and war created by global capitalism and how to stop it. On the eve of a previous wave of protest, one which saw revolution spread across Europe, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote one of the most famous and influential political pamphlets of all time: The Communist Manifesto.
Jeremy Hardy v The Israeli Army
Radiohead's new album has caused a stir in the music press. Radiohead are immensely popular. Hail To The Thief sold over 60,000 copies in Britain in the first two days of its release. They are also highly political. Lead singer Thom Yorke denounced the war on Iraq. The band support campaigns against Third World debt and in defence of asylum seekers.
THIS YEAR is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the writer and socialist George Orwell. BBC2 is showing documentary - drama George Orwell: A Life in Pictures this Saturday, which charts both his artistic and political development. The most intriguing question about Orwell is how an Eton schoolboy went on to become perhaps the greatest critic of class privilege and tyranny writing in the English language.
WITH ITS slick cover design, Mark Curtis's book looks like a blockbuster. It deserves to be one. The story of the terrorist actions carried out by the British state is scarier and more gripping than any thriller.
THE GUARDIAN has called its new book on the war against Iraq The War We Could Not Stop. The title reflects the desire of millions of people to stop the war and their anger when the mightiest military power in the world unleashed its devastation on a poor and oppressed people.
To Kill a King is an interesting new film about the English Revolution in the mid 17th century. A revolt, led by parliament, broke out against the tyranny of Charles I's regime in 1642. After years of civil war and attempts to compromise broke down, revolt became a full-blooded revolution.