Vasily Grossman's novel Life and Fate has over 150 characters spread throughout war-torn Russia during the Battle of Stalingrad in late 1942 and early 1943. Grossman tells the story through the experiences of Soviet soldiers. The book also deals with the horrors of fascism. This is told in the most chilling way, as Nazi personnel build gas chambers and as a group of Jewish people are forced to journey to the camps.
The film is showing this Sunday in London-with all proceeds going to the "Socialist Worker" Appeal-and anyone who can should try to get along. The film is about the Paris Commune in 1871, one of the greatest ever events in working class history. For 72 days Parisian workers took control of the city. What makes the film so exciting is that it is not only about events over 100 years ago. It is also about how we can change the world today.
The television drama Rebel Heart by Irish writer Ronan Bennett has provoked an outburst from Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and right wing papers like the Daily Telegraph.
In a Land Of Plenty, which began this week, is the BBC's most ambitious drama serial for a long time. It spans ten episodes. It centres on the life of James Freeman, from his birth in 1956 to the present day. He's born into a rich family and has a comfortable childhood. But there are tensions as well.
ONE OF New Labour's sickest acts so far has been its relentless attack on asylum seekers. In reaction to the tabloid and government offensive a substantial number of people have started to fight back.
THE BOOK Oil by US author Upton Sinclair was a bestseller when it was published in 1926. The story of the oil boom in California is told through the eyes of Bunny, an oil tycoon's son who has sympathies with workers. But the real hero is Paul, a committed socialist, who leads an oil workers' strike and returns from a visit to Russia full of excitement for what the Bolsheviks are doing.
The people of Iraq have faced war on two fronts since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. Iraq Under Siege, edited by US socialist Anthony Arnove, conveys their suffering.
THE GRAPES of Wrath by John Steinbeck is an experience, not just a good read. It's about the Joad family and friends being forced to migrate in the US during the 1930s Great Depression.
Naomi Klein's No Logo, a new book which rips into the giant firms that want to control our lives is reviewed by Charlie Kimber
AMERICAN Beauty, which has been a huge hit in the United States, is about the collapse of the American Dream. The film revolves around the Burnhams, who are, by all appearances, the perfect family. They are attractive, well off and own a large, tasteful house in a small town. The parents' careers are well established.
"THEY ALL think we're scum." That is the view of two young Newcastle fans, Gerry and his mate Sewell. They are the main characters in Jonathan Tulloch's great novel Season Ticket. Gerry and Sewell live in Gateshead. Sewell's dad is doing a long stretch in prison. Gerry's dad is a violent, abusive drinker.
Wonderland is a really good film. It is about real people you might actually know, like your friends and family. That makes it an all too welcome change from the glitzy dross that Hollywood so often pumps out. The film uses a grainy documentary style to portray a weekend in the lives of three working sisters in London. One sister is single but using lonely hearts ads to try to find a partner. Another sister is a single mum just trying to have a good time. The third is married and about to have a baby.
CORRESPONDENT (Sat, 5.50pm, BBC2). Worth a look. This special edition from Latin America looks at the aftermath of the 1998 hurricane and how money intended for the victims has gone into the pockets of the international banks.
CHARLES SHAAR MURRAY is a respected journalist whose new book about John Lee Hooker and the blues has just been published. He writes for Socialist Worker about the blues.
"UNCONVENTION" is an exhibition with a difference. It has been assembled by rock group the Manic Street Preachers on the theme of love and revolution. The show brings together paintings by Picasso and Jackson Pollock with posters from the Spanish Civil War and photographs of the work ers in the south Wales valleys.
IF YOU were born into a Catholic family, attended a Catholic school, were sent to mass every Sunday and lived in fear of the local priest then Eamonn McCann's new book on religion is the one for you. Conversely, if you were lucky enough to escape the Catholic church, then you'll also find Dear God a fascinating and funny read. Not being one of the lucky ones, I devoured McCann's book and by the end thought that he had penned it especially for me.
THIS WORKERS' banner (above) is from the period of the Russian Revolution of 1917. It is one of many fascinating items on show in the "Banners at Large" exhibition at The Pumphouse People's History Museum in Manchester until 30 January next year. The banner was sent from the textile workers of Moscow to the textile workers of Yorkshire in about 1920. It was brought to Britain by Maggie Jordan, a mill worker from Shipley.
THE FILM Fight Club has provoked much debate. It started even before it was released, when the British film censors decided two of the fight scenes had to be cut for being too graphic. The day I went along to see it an article appeared the Guardian praising the film as radical: "Thank god for Fight Club. It begins to challenge how we are manipulated, seduced, frightened and co-opted by politicians, advertisers and employers."
THE "Global Climate Coalition" and the "Global Climate Council" sound like environmental lobby groups. They were launched in the late 1980s as the threat posed by global warming became clear. A new book by former oil industry consultant Jeremy Leggett exposes how these bodies were fronts for the world's biggest polluters. Their horrifying aim was to fight to prevent serious action on climate change.
THE NEW Ang Lee film Ride With the Devil is about the American Civil War. It brings the issues alive. William Sherman, a leading general in the war, once said it was not simply a war between armies, but also between hostile peoples. He was right. The American Civil War split the country apart.