I WANTED to write a novel about the miners' strike for years, but I also wanted to wait until I was a good enough writer to do it justice. With the 20th anniversary of the strike, it was perfect timing. The only two books that came out about the strike were mine and another crime novel, GB84. All the mainstream novelists left it to us crime writers.
I WAS relieved that Troy is not a film that glorifies war. Amid the sumptuous costumes, it is a film full of human sadness, of people caught up in a war that they do not want and have no control over. As well as showing opposition to war through sympathy with characters who face death and destruction, it draws striking comparisons between Homer's Iliad and Iraq today.
Vernon God Little
FROM MEETING your ancestors to what made Hitler tick, history is never off our television screens. There are the serious programmes, where weighty professors like David Starkey talk straight to camera and pronounce their conventional view of great kings and queens.
HIP-HOP HAS always been a music with two souls. One soul rages against ghetto life, against racism, police harassment and \"the system\". The other soul reflects the divisions among those who suffer. It promotes sexism and celebrates a cash-rich lifestyle that will always be out of the reach of most of the fans. Dead Prez come from the soul of resistance. Their hip-hop is about a rebellious tradition that goes back to the Black Panther Party.
THE MOST evil film ever made was probably Jud Suess, commissioned by Goebbels in 1940 to fan hatred of the Jews on the eve of the Final Solution. A thousand years of European anti-Semitism were condensed in the image of the cowering rapist Suess, with his dirty beard, hook nose, and whining voice. The audience was instigated to rejoice in the lynching of this subhuman monster at the film's end.
'ENGLAND EXPECTS every man to do his duty." So runs the motto of lead character Ray in this new BBC drama, appropriated from Nelson's battle cry at Trafalgar. This duty is apparently to ensure that all ethnic minorities are forcibly removed from his east London community. Steven Mackintosh gives a convincing performance as a security guard with latent fascist beliefs that resurface when his family is refused a council house.
CHRISTIAN HOGSBJERG reviews the play Homage to Catalonia, based on George Orwell's book of that name, and MIGUEL ARIAS recommends Orwell's original account of revolution in Barcelona.
JAMES MANN has produced a wonderful book of original anti-war posters from around the world. The book is co-written with Nicolas Lampert and has an introduction by veteran US campaigner Howard Zinn. It makes a powerful case for politically committed art.
MARY QUEEN of Scots may seem a strange subject for Jimmy McGovern's new BBC drama. McGovern is well known for writing that exposes prejudice and oppression. He has consistently championed left wing causes, while at the same time becoming a highly successful writer on series like Cracker.
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"THIS NEW video will be an excellent resource for people to use in Stop the War meetings," says school student and anti-war activist Ed Cope from Cambridge. "The makers of this film have managed to bring together material from leading members of the anti-war movement. It slots together interviews with footage from British news and Al Jazeera and film from the Vietnam War. "The nasty face of US and British imperialism is portrayed with powerful images. Nothing is more disturbing than the images from Iraq-the scalps of children in pools of blood, burnt bodies in crushed cars and men being thrust to the ground by soldiers, with plastic sacks over their heads and their hands bound behind
'TONY BLAIR'S New Labour was being returned to power for a second term by an apathetic landslide. "People voted for them because there didn't seem to be a credible alternative. In the country Blair's government would now oversee, the gap between rich and poor has never been wider. The fatally dilapidated railway infrastructure, the crisis in education, in housing, in health, in social welfare. Funding withdrawn, never returned. Thatcher's legacy-time bombs exploding all over the country."
THE BBC may well feel its back is against the wall in its battle with New Labour over coverage of the Iraq war. But the corporation must be on safer ground with another conflict, World War Two.
DARIO FO is the author of radical theatre classics such as Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can't Pay? Won't Pay! During Fo's 50-year career he has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature-but he has also been arrested, had his house firebombed and been tried dozens of times for blasphemy and libel.
THE NEW film Girl With A Pearl Earring about the Dutch artist Vermeer has provoked interest in the life and society of the great Dutch painters. JOHN MOLYNEUX looks at the reasons why Dutch society produced a flowering of great art in the 17th century.
SOME 200 years of struggle by working people in Britain is the theme for a new website which the Trades Union Congress has helped put together. "The Union Makes Us Strong-TUC History Online" covers the years 1815 to 2000. Its motivation is the fact that "trade unions have played and continue to play a decisive role in shaping economic and social developments in Britain. Yet much of their history is at present unknown and inaccessible to the public."
ARUNDHATI ROY says, "Fiction dances out of me. Non-fiction is wrenched out by the aching, broken world I wake up to every morning." In every essay in this collection you will find the same passion, clarity and rage as in her inspiring call to action at the opening ceremony of the World Social Forum last month.