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miserabilism

Spiked Review of Books

The Spiked Review of Books is a monthly online literary criticism feature, based at the online magazine spiked. The launch in May 2007 coincided with controversy in the United States following the scaling back of newspaper book review sections. The Spiked Review of Books features editorials by spiked editor Brendan O'Neill, and interviews, essays and reviews by a range of writers, many of whom are regular contributors to spiked, such as Frank Furedi, Jennie Bristow and Josie Appleton. The cover illustrations are by Jan Bowman

Issue 1, May 2007

“First there were the Culture Wars; now we have the Book Review Wars. In the US, authors are ripping into newspapers for their ‘industry-wide scaling back of book reviews’. Books sections were once a place where arguments were had and thought experiments conducted. Where the news pages told us what was going on in the world, and the opinion pages explained why, the books section provided an arena for writers to take the pulse of the zeitgeist and to launch salvos in the battle of ideas. It is in this spirit that spiked launches its new monthly review of books, a space where no books will be burnt though the debate will get heated. Switch off the Oprah Book Club, dry your tears over your paper’s shrinking books section, and welcome to the must-read for readers everywhere.” [Brendan O’Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
Literary Porn Frank Furedi Angela's Ashes; A Child Called It; A Million Little Pieces Frank McCourt; Dave Pelzer; James Frey
Measuring the Political Temperature Josie Appleton Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet Mark Lynas
How to be a ‘hippy fascist’ Brendan O'Neill How to be right James Delingpole
What’s behind the rise of Tescophobia? Neil Davenport Tescopoly Andrew Simms
Playing a dirty trick on Africa Daniel Ben-Ami Poor Story Giles Bolton
The ‘disorganised apartheid’ of cultural diversity Tiffany Jenkins The Nature of the Beast: Cultural diversity and the visual arts sector Richard Hylton
When the Sixties were stifling rather than swinging Emily Hill On Chesil Beach Ian McEwan

Issue 2, June 2007

“‘Freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds....’ So said Darwin, explaining why he wasn’t interested in ridiculing the religious (or bashing the Bible-bashers, one might say). That outlook — illumination over ridicule, knowledge over kneejerkism — is the theme of this second issue of the spiked review of books, what we might call the Ball-Busting Issue. Taking Darwin’s lead, Michael Fitzpatrick shows that today’s cheap shots against religion by ‘the New Atheists’ are frequently a cover for the atheists’ own moral disorientation. Mick Hume says the bizarre defence of ‘chicken’s rights’ calls into question the very idea of human superiority over beasts. And James Heartfield explains how New Leftish attacks on technology have slowed industrial growth and sustained disease and destitution in the Third World. spiked kicks against the pricks in power - but often the radical critics of the powers-that-be deserve a kicking, too.” [Brendan O’Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
The Anti-God squad Michael Fitzpatrick God is not great Christopher Hitchens
Stop Planet Chicken, I want to get off Mick Hume Planet Chicken Hattie Ellis
Investigating the infra-ordinary Jennie Bristow Welcome to Everytown; Queuing for beginners; Watching the English Julian Baggini; Joe Moran; Kate Fox
"I was the greatest writer of the twentieth century" Brendan O'Neill The Angry Years Colin Wilson
Let technology set you free James Heartfield The Shock of the Old; Imaginary Futures; Fantasy Island Dave Edgerton; Richard Barbrook; Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson
The globalisation of miserabilism Neil Davenport Live working or die fighting Paul Mason
Of spiders and men Stuart Derbyshire Animal Architects James and Carol Gould
Is the Red Dragon a green threat? James Woudhuysen China and the global energy crisis; Plan B 2.0; Black Gold; The Rough Guide to Climate Change Tatsu Kambara and Christopher Howe; Lester R. Brown; George Orwel; Robert Henson
A mind-numbing work of staggering dullness Emily Hill What Is the What Dave Eggers

Issue 3, July 2007

“What characterises man is his extreme abundance of imagination.’ So said José Ortega y Gasset. This issue of the spiked review of books is a celebration of that imagination - and a call for it to be liberated from the ball-and-chain of today’s misanthropic outlook. Josie Appleton dips her toe into Alan Weisman’s intriguing thought experiment: his study of what the world would look like without the guiding hand of human rationality. Frank Furedi, taking on two new heavyweight books on the crisis of moral authority, says political thinking should strike free from the ‘prison of the present’. The studies of the lives and works of Thomas Jefferson and Henryk Grossman show that different men in different times, through preparing for war or applying analytical tools, have been able to imagine, and make, better worlds. Please enjoy the abundance of ideas herein....” [Brendan O’Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
Unleashing Nature’s Terror Josie Appleton The World Without Us Alan Weisman
Why political thought is imprisoned in the present Frank Furedi The Assault on Reason; The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an old continent Al Gore; Walter Laqueur
Parents take parenting far too seriously Nancy McDermott Baby and child care Dr Benjamin Spock
Why Grossman still matters James Heartfield Henryk Grossman and the Recovery of Marxism Rick Kuhn
Constitutions are created by revolutions, not by jurists John Fitzpatrick The Declaration of Independence; Thomas Jefferson: Author of America Thomas Jefferson et al (introduced by Michael Hardt); Christopher Hitchens
Selling out the ‘bottom billion’ Daniel Ben-Ami The Bottom Billion Paul Collier
Intrusion, intrusion, intrusion Dolan Cummings The Corruption of the Curriculum Robert Whelan (edited by)
Woody’s imploding universe Nathalie Rothschild Mere Anarchy Woody Allen

Issue 4: August 2007

“There is a new law of politics; we might call it the Law of Intended Curmudgeonliness. It rules that the more that life improves – the wealthier, healthier and safer we become – the more that miserabilists will fret about the dangers we face. Money makes us unhappy, they claim; affluence gives rise to ‘affluenza’; world travel tramples local communities underfoot, etczzz. The August issue of the spiked review of books is devoted to breaking this law. Daniel Ben-Ami counterpunches the critics of economic growth and puts the case for infecting all of humanity with 'affluenza' (that is, liberating everyone from the ‘realm of necessity’). Helene Guldberg argues that childhood is not as fraught or frightening as some believe. Peter Smith celebrates the benefits of increased international mobility. We also have Michael Fitzpatrick on why communism survived for so long, Dolan Cummings on the true spirit of Enlightenment, and studies of the heart and the brain and the role they play (or don’t play) in making us human. Enjoy…” [Brendan O’Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
Towards an age of abundance, Daniel Ben-Ami Richistan; Falling Behind; The Age of Abundance; Deep Economy Robert Frank; Robert H. Frank; Brink Lindsey; Bill McKibben
Why communism survived for so long Dr Michael Fitzpatrick Comrades! A World History of communism Robert Service
Ossifying the Enlightenment Dolan Cummings The Threat to Reason Dan Hind
A childish panic about the next generation Helene Guldberg Toxic Childhood; The Power of Play; The Price of Privilege; The Language and Thought of the Child Sue Palmer; David Elkind; Madeline Levine; Jean Piaget
The Matter of the Heart Josie Appleton The Heart James Peto (edited by)
We're No Slaves to Our Senses Stuart Derbyshire Making up the Mind Chris Firth
Treating voters as instruments Neil Davenport Activism Inc Dana R. Fisher
Ecotourism: Holier than thou holidays; Peter Smith The Final Call; Ecotourism, NGOs and Development Leo Hickman; Jim Butcher
The Frozen Ones Nathalie Rothschild The Yiddish Policemen's Union Michael Chabon
Handbags at Dawn Emily Hill Hopscotch and Handbags Lucy Magnan

Issue 5: September 2007

It is often said that we live in a ‘globalised age’. Apparently, cross-border threats such as smog and terror require internationalist solutions, the coming together of minds and men from around the world to fix our broken world. Yet, as we explore in this issue of the spiked review of books, it is a faux-internationalism, built on the emptying out of political debate and the circumvention of the public. Frank Furedi explores how the outsourcing of authority denigrates democracy. Faisal Devji examines why Osama bin Laden – ‘the ventriloquist’ – conducts his war of words in a global landscape. And James Heartfield reads two new New Labour diaries and discovers that Blairites much preferred jollies abroad to engagement at home. We also have Ann Furedi on the abortion wars, Andrew Calcutt on The Specials, Nathalie Rothschild on the many myths of Hollywood, and much more. Enjoy... and make the review itself global; send a link to your friends and foes. [Brendan O’Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
A Tyranny of Experts Frank Furedi The Great Disruption Zaiki Laidi
The Ventriloquist Faisal Devji Landscapes of the Jihad Faisal Devji
Sex, lies and stereotypes Nathalie Rothschild Hollywood Undercover Ian Halperin
The First Casualty of the Abortion Wars: Truth Ann Furedi The Politics of Abortion Anne Hendershott
The Sickness at the Heart of New Labour James Heartfield The Blair Years; The Oona King Diaries Alastair Campbell; Oona King
In Defence of ‘Radicalisation’ Dolan Cummings The Islamist Ed Husain
Me and the Specials Andrew Calcutt Ska'd For Life Horace Panter
Let's Make the World Storm-proof Stuart Derbyshire Storm World Chris Mooney
Hanging out in ‘Hangover Square’ Emily Hill Hangover Square Patrick Hamilton

Issue 6: October 2007

Earlier this month, David Cameron, leader of the UK Tory Party, told his party conference: ‘The next Conservative government will begin a revolution…’ Make sure you are sitting comfortably before I tell you what the Cameroonian Revolution will consist of: the use of tax incentives to encourage Brits to use low-energy lightbulbs and eco-friendly windmills in order to save on electricity. So, when Cameron uses the word ‘revolution’, he means the number of revolutions it takes to screw in a bulb rather than a revolution in ideas, thought, action. At a time when politics feels flat and uninteresting, Mick Hume looks back to the Russian Revolution in this issue of the spiked review of books: to a time when metaphorical lightbulbs lit up in the minds of men and women who envisaged new ways to organise society. This is no Red-eyed nostalgia trip; rather Hume re-reads John Reed to see if there are lessons for today from that ‘torrent-like’ rising 90 years ago. We also have Frank Furedi on the Israel lobby, an exclusive on five books on terrorism that Britons are not allowed to read, and much, much more. Enjoy! [Brendan O’Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
Ten Days that Shook The World Mick Hume Ten Days That Shook the World John Reed
Is Israel the organ-grinder? Frank Furedi The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt
Five books on Terrorism you aren't allowed to read Various Authors Forbidden Truth; Alms for Jihad; Unknown Soldiers; Funding Evil; Reaping the Whirlwind: The Taliban Movement in Afghanistan Jean-Charles Brisard, Guillaume Dasquié and Lucy Rounds; J Millard Burr and Robert O Collins; Matthew Carr; Rachel Ehrenfeld; Michael Griffin
After Chick Lit, welcome to ‘baby-sick lit' Jennie Bristow Baby Proof; A Bad Bride's Tale; The Baby Trail; The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy Emily Giffin; Polly Williams; Sinead Moriarty; Fiona Neill
PC in the Dock Sean Collins Until Proven Innocent Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson
Capitalism in ‘Ruthless profit-making’ shock! Neil Davenport The Shock Doctrine Naomi Klein
A killer argument against Assisted Suicide Kevin Yuill The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Neil Gorsuch
Clausewitz after 9/11 James Woudhuysen
Escaping the 'Malthusian Trap' Daniel Ben-Ami A Farewell to Alms Gregory Clark
Gaia Theory: Academic Mysticism Josie Appleton Earthy Realism Mary Midgley

Issue 7: November 2007

Western officials waging a war against terrorism often claim to be engaged in a ‘battle of ideas’. But what ideas are they battling to defend? That is never made clear. Aside from a rhetorical championing of the Western ‘way of life’ (whatever that might mean) and ‘Western values’ (which no one dares define), big ideas are notable by their absence on this battlefield. This spiked review of books unpicks the terror phenomenon. I interview Frank Furedi about his new book Invitation to Terror. Elsewhere, Furedi argues that foreign policy is driven by incoherence, and ‘humanitarianism’ is the antithesis of humanism. In defence of the Terror, Dolan Cummings reviews a new edition of Maximilien Robespierre’s speeches, and finds that, for all the claims that Robespierre is the father of modern terrorism, he was incorruptibly committed to liberty and progress: a million miles from today’s webcam jihadists. Plus: the dogma of transparency, the Motherhood Wars, the world’s biggest miserabilist, and more. Enjoy! [Brendan O’Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
Remembering the Reign of Terror Dolan Cummings Virtue and Terror Maximilien Robespierre
“The war on terror is a symmetry of confusion” Brendan O'Neill Invitation to Terror Frank Furedi
Humanitarianism: The Antithesis of Humanism Frank Furedi Media, War and Postmodernity Philip Hammond
Who’s the miserabilist of them all? Michael Cook Better Never To Have Been David Benatar
Seeing through the dogma of ‘transparency’ Sean Collins The Right To Know; Full Disclosure Ann Florini (edited by); Archon Fung, Mary Graham and David Weil
Is stay-at-home motherhood only ‘half a life’? Nancy McDermott The Feminine Mistake; Get to Work Leslie Bennetts; Linda Hirshman
A brainless analysis of American politics Stuart Derbyshire The Political Brain Drew Westen
Art, humanity and the ‘fourth hunger’ Raymond Tallis
On the futility of extracting fact from fiction Rob Killick Exit Ghost Philip Roth

Issue 8: December 2007

Welcome to the December issue of the spiked review of books. In keeping with the Christmas spirit - well, the Christmas spirit as spiked sees it: secularised celebrations of the human spirit and material advancement - our lead review is Michael Fitzpatrick on Terry Eagleton’s insightful study of the gospels. Whatever today’s shrill New Atheists might argue, the New Testament is magnificently poetic, says Fitzpatrick - and the Kingdom of God turns out to be a ‘surprisingly materialist affair’, notes Eagleton. Yet the salvation drama in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John remains a ‘consolatory fantasy’; we would do better to look for hope in the open-ended nature of humanity rather than in the Good Book. We also have John Fitzpatrick paying stirring tribute to the Putney Debaters of seventeenth-century England (and to Geoffrey Robertson’s excellent new edition of their debates), whose heated discussions in a south-west London church echoed around the world. Plus: Toby Young on ‘loser lit’; Tony Gilland on the truth about climate change; Helene Guldberg on the medicalisation of shyness (and other normal emotions); and much more. Enjoy - and Merry Christmas from all at spiked! [Brendan O’Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
Was Jesus a Revolutionary? Dr Michael Fitzpatrick The Gospels Terry Eagleton (presented by)
Don’t Mention the War John Fitzpatrick The Putney Debates Geoffrey Robertson (presented by)
Lunching with the doyen of ‘loser lit’ Emily Hill How to Lose Friends and Alienate People Toby Young
Return of the Skeptical Environmentalist Tony Gilland Cool It Bjorn Lomborg
Humanity, Thou Art Sick Helene Guldberg Shyness Christopher Lane
How powerful is the ‘power of persuasion’? Stuart Derbyshire ‘Yes! Fifty Secrets from the Science of Persuasion’ Noah J Goldstein, Steve Martin and Robert Cialdini
New Labour’s out-of-control freakery James Heartfield The End of Politics Chris Dillow
TS Eliot, thingamabob and tonal conformity Jay Bernard
Can Zadie Smith save the short story? Nathalie Rothschild The Book of Other People Zadie Smith (edited by)
Carry On Commando Emily Hill ‘Coward on the Beach’ James Delingpole

Issue 9: January 2008

Welcome to the first spiked review of books of 2008, in which we continue to wage a war of words against misanthropy and heretic-hunting. This month we have invited Alexander Cockburn to outline what many consider to be his eccentric views on climate change. Cockburn tells how he has been witch-hunted by modern-day ‘hysterics’ for daring to question the consensus. Damian Thompson explains why he has taken up the cudgel against ‘counterknowledge’ - the conspiracy theories and pseudo-science which, he argues, are spreading like wildfire in 21st century dinner-party circles. Meanwhile, spiked regular Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, who has fought a sometimes lonely battle for reason in the MMR-autism debacle of the past 10 years, revisits the British media’s anti-MMR mania. For spiked, the only way to challenge irrationalism is through a loud and rowdy and fully free battle of ideas. We also have Sean Collins on ‘hyperpartisanship’, Tim Black on ‘big ideas’, Daniel Ben-Ami on the origins of green miserabilism, and much more. Enjoy! [Brendan O'Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
I am an Intellectual Blasphemer Alexander Cockburn A Short History of Fear Alexander Cockburn
Dare to Know Nothing Damian Thompson Counterknowledge Damian Thompson
Anti-MMR mania: Diagnosis and Cure Dr Michael Fitzpatrick Health, Risk and News Tammy Boyce
Is ‘hyperpartisanship’ paralysing American politics? Sean Collins The Second Civil War; The Conscience of a Liberal Ronald Brownstein; Paul Krugman
The midwife of miserabilism Daniel Ben-Ami The Affluent Society John Kenneth Galbraith
The tyranny of identity politics James Heartfield Gay Men and the Left in Post-War Britain Lucy Robinson
The little book of big ideas Tim Black Big ideas James Harkin
Rehab: it’s not rock ‘n’ roll Guy Rundle The Heroin Diaries Nikki Sixx
Keeping humanity secure David Chandler Human Security; Development, Security and Unending War Mary Kaldor; Mark Duffield
The new face of law ‘n’ order David Clements The Politics of Antisocial Behaviour Stuart Waiton

Issue 10, February 2008

Do you suffer from Harried Woman Syndrome? Perhaps you have Compulsive Acquisition Disorder? Maybe you’re one of millions laid low by Affluenza, whose symptoms include buying lots of mod cons, trying to hide the signs of ageing and chasing the latest fashionable garb. In the past, they called it ‘getting on in the world’ when families got good jobs, bought nice homes and fast cars, and moved from the Realm of Making Ends Meet to the Kingdom of Living Comfortably. Now our desire for ‘stuff’ is described as a mental disorder, a habit we must kick ASAP. In this month’s spiked review of books, Daniel Ben-Ami - in a review of new books by Oliver James and John Naish - says he’s had enough of the theory of Enoughism, and puts the case for the creation of more wealth and comfort around the world. We also have Frank Furedi asking what role Big Business played in the development of environmentalism, Sean Collins on how There Will Be Blood waters down Upton Sinclair’s Oil!, a Celtic fan defending the right of Rangers fans to abuse him, and much, much more. Enjoy! [Brendan O'Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
Down With 'Enoughism' Daniel Ben-Ami Enough: Breaking Free from the World of More; The Selfish Capitalist: Origins of Affluenza; The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder John Naish; Oliver James; Allan V Horwitz and Jerome C Wakefield
The Greening of Capitalism Frank Furedi Green Capitalism: Manufacturing Scarcity James Heartfield
Blood is Thicker than Oil! Sean Collins Oil! Upton Sinclair
The King of 'Climate Porn' Tony Gilland The Hot Topic: How to Tackle Global Warming and Still Keep the Lights on; Science and Public Policy: The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science Sir David King and Gabrielle Walker; Aynsley J Kellow
Who are the real dons of 'counterknpowledge'? Munira Mirza Counterknowledge Damian Thompson
Put the 'human' back in the humanities Alex Standish Education's End Anthony T. Kronman
What makes humans special? Stuart Derbyshire and Anand Raja Mind, Self and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist George Herbert Mead and Charles W. Morris(ed.)
Defending Rangers from football's Thought Police Kevin Rooney It's Rangers for Me? Ronnie Esplin and Graham Walker
Woody Allen meets the Three Musketeers Nathalie Rothschild Gentlemen of the Road Michael Chabon
Death of the Warrior Ethos Bill Durodié The Warrior Ethos: Military Culture and the War on Terror Christopher Coker

Issue 11, March 2008

You can wear a red one for AIDS, a pink one for breast cancer, or a blue one to show your concern about the troops still being in Iraq, child abuse, censorship on the World Wide Web, second-hand smoke, or the kidnap victims of Basque separatists (with only so many colours in the spectrum, some ribbons symbolise many different things). If a kitsch, one-quid ribbon doesn't suit your dress sense, how about a wristband instead? There's the white one to make poverty history (which everyone has stopped wearing - does that mean poverty is history, or that its trendiness as a campaign is history?), and the new yellow one to complain about Chinese pollution. Why is everyone tying themselves in knots with technicolour ribbons and wristbands? In this month's spiked review of books, Jennie Bristow explores the relentless rise of the 'ribbon culture' and what it reveals about our morbid and narcissistic society. We also have Richard Reeves talking about his new biography of a dead white male with something stirring to say - John Stuart Mill; Michael Baum on the war against cancer; Philip Cunliffe on the politics of chaos in the Middle East; and much, much more. Enjoy! [Brendan O’Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
Untying the ‘ribbon culture’ Jennie Bristow Ribbon Culture Sarah Moore
The hole at the heart of the Democratic Party Sean Collins The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics Matt Bai
Man’s unending war against cancer Michael Baum The Secret History of the War on Cancer Devra Davis
‘Mill is a dead white male with something to say’ Tessa Mayes John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand Richard Reeves
Against conformity John Fitzpatrick On Liberty John Stuart Mill
Hallucinations of Empire Philip Cunliffe The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East Olivier Roy
From Somalia to Iraq: the hack as collaborator Philip Hammond Framing Post-Cold War Conflicts: The Media and International Intervention Philip Hammond
Honderich: the thinking man’s unthinking man? Stuart Derbyshire On Consciousness Ted Honderich
Who will defend processed food? Rob Lyons In Defence of Food: The Myth of Nutrition and the Pleasures of Eating Michael Pollan
Defending Delia from the food fanatics Justine Brian Delia’s How to Cheat at Cooking Delia Smith

Issue 12, April 2008

This issue of the spiked review of books marks two anniversaries. The first is the fortieth anniversary of the tumultuous year of 1968. Frank Furedi looks back on his short career as a student radical and says he treasures ‘the feelings and experiences’ of the late 1960s. Yet he argues that probably the key driving force behind the shifts in the Sixties was not student radicalism itself, but the crisis and cowardice of the Western elites. Michael Fitzpatrick revisits Derry 1968, one of the forgotten uprisings of that year, when he says Ireland experienced a rare ‘moment of truth’. Philip Hammond traces the journeys of Bernard Kouchner and Joschka Fischer, who moved from manning the barricades in ’68 to overseeing or justifying the bombing of Yugoslavia and Iraq in the 1990s and today. The second anniversary concerns the spiked review of books itself: this is our twelfth issue. We launched the review a year ago in May 2007, as a place where writers could conduct ‘thought experiments’ and ‘launch salvos in the battle of ideas’. And as it becomes clear that the questions of authority, purpose and morality that burst on to the international stage in 1968 remain unresolved, we need just such a laboratory of ideas more than ever.[Brendan O’Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
How the British left betrayed Ireland’s 1968 Michael Fitzpatrick War and an Irish Town Eamonn McCann
How the ’68ers became warmongers Philip Hammond Power and the Idealists Paul Berman
The cultural contradictions of consumerism Josie Appleton Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults and Swallow Citizens Whole Benjamin Barber
Exploding the myth of trafficking Nathalie Rothschild Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry Laura Maria Agustin
Modernism and the ‘lure of heresy’ Tim Black Modernism Peter Gay
Three cheers for China’s economic miracle Austin Williams Enemies of Progress: The Dangers of Sustainability Austin Williams
Is environmentalism the opiate of the liberals? Iain Murray Really Inconvenient Truths Iain Murray
Nothing that is human is alien to Price Sean Collins Lush Life Richard Price
Fascism: it ain’t what it used to be Guy Rundle Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning Jonah Goldberg

Issue 13, May 2008

In May 2007, we launched the spiked review of books as an ‘arena’ where writers could ‘launch salvos in the battle of ideas’; we promised that ‘no books will be burnt, though the debate will get heated’. In keeping with our pledge to debate ideas – thoroughly and seriously – rather than write any of them off as ‘beyond this pale’, the current May 2008 issue of the review looks at important new books on irrational currents in contemporary society. Dr Michael Fitzpatrick asks if the radical backlash against alternative medicine is helping to enlighten debate, or stifle it. Frank Furedi reviews a crucial new text on the historical ‘war against babies’ and in favour of population control. Mick Hume asks why even respectable, sensible scientists can be labelled ‘deniers’ and ‘heretics’ in the debate about climate change. We also look at ‘Real England’, the truth about the ‘Obama-phenomenon’, Cherie Blair’s memoirs and much more. Enjoy – and please donate here to help keep the review alive and kicking.[Brendan O’Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
Taking a political placebo Michael Fitzpatrick Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst
The rise and rise of the New Malthusianism Frank Furedi Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population Matthew Connelly
Thou shalt not ask awkward questions Mick Hume The Deniers Lawrence Solomon
The reactionary firebrands of ‘Real England’ Neil Davenport Real England: The Battle Against the Bland Paul Kingsnorth
Obama: a man of no substance Sean Collins The Audacity of Hope Barack Obama
Shooting down the enemies of progress Tony Gilland An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming Nigel Lawson
You can’t care for kids unless you touch them Josie Appleton Don’t Touch!: The Educational Story of a Panic Heather Piper and Ian Stronach
Jim Crow dressed up in multicultural drag Stuart Derbyshire and Anand Raja Commemorating Brown: The Social Psychology of Racism and Discrimination Glenn Adams, Monica Biernat, Nyla R. Branscombe, Christian S. Crandall, Lawrence S. Wrightsman (eds)
Cherie’s memoirs ‘are not awful’ shock! Jennie Bristow Speaking for myself Cherie Blair
History: it's just one bloody thing after another Bill Durodie Blood and Rage: A Cultural History of Terrorism Michael Burleigh

Issue 14, June 2008

After women’s lib, do we need some parents’ lib? In a striking new essay in this month’s spiked review of books, Jennie Bristow traces the historic shifts in the ‘woman question’ – from Engels’ and Mill’s understanding that women’s oppression was a product of the shortcoming of capitalism as a whole, to the rise of divisive ‘cultural’ and ‘victim feminism’ in the second half of the twentieth century. Bristow argues that, today, feminism, rather than challenging the nature of the family under capitalism, has ended up justifying greater state intervention in the home to protect women and children from men. It’s time for some family freedom. We also have an extract from Kenan Malik's new book Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate, looking at how twenty-first century sociobiologists are naturalising ‘racial feelings’; Sean Collins takes a journey through the post-American world; Guy Rundle dissects the controversy over Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke; and I write on the metamorphosis of George Monbiot. Enjoy![Brendan O'Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
The Family In Therapy Jennie Bristow The Feminine Mystique; The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State; The Culture of Narcissism; Therapy Culture Betty Friedan; Frederick Engels; Christopher Lasch; Frank Furedi
How both left and right are naturalising ‘racial feelings’ Kenan Malik Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate Kenan Malik
Monbiot’s metamorphosis Brendan O'Neill Bring on the Apocalypse: Six Arguments for Global Justice George Monbiot
The truth about our post-American world Sean Collins The Post-American World Fareed Zakaria
How do we break free of the rules of biology? Stuart Derbyshire and Anand Raja The Baby in the Mirror: A Child’s World from Birth to Three Charles Fernyhough
The high cost of invasive parenting advice Nancy McDermott A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting Hara Estroff Marano
The myth of the ‘good war’ goes up in smoke Guy Rundle Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization Nicholson Baker
Depoliticising the war in Northern Ireland Kevin Rooney Watching the Door Kevin Myers
The dangerous rise of therapeutic education Kathryn Ecclestone and Dennis Hayes The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education Kathryn Ecclestone and Dennis Hayes

Issue 15, July 2008

We’re often told that American politics is too divisive, too ‘hyper-partisan’. One reason why Barack Obama is currently being lauded during his JFK-style trip across Europe is because he is envisioned as a new kind of politician: open, inclusive and not too bitchy (and also because there are precious few politicos in Europe to get excited about). Yet as Sean Collins reveals in this month’s spiked review of books, the idea of America as politically super-divided is misleading; rather, it is the decline of serious political debate, and its replacement by petty lifestyle issues, that makes America’s ‘political landscape’ seem shrill and combative. Collins asks why Americans are forming ‘lifestyle tribes’, and what can be done to challenge it. We also have Mick Hume celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Alan Sillitoe’s still-exhilarating Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Dolan Cummings on scary corporate shills, Francis Phillips on Julian Barnes’ empty godlessness, and much more. Enjoy![Brendan O'Neill]

Article Writer Reviewed Book(s) Reviewed Author(s)
The Blakanisation of America Sean Collins The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart Bob Bishop and Robert G Cushing
Sillitoe: still smokin’ after all these years Mick Hume Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Alan Sillitoe
Are corporate fakers taking over the world? Dolan Cummings Thinker, Faker, Spinner, Spy: Corporate PR and the Assault on Democracy William Dinan and David Miller
The cold comforts of neo-Darwinism Francis Phillips Nothing to be Frightened of Julian Barnes
Does hypocrisy have a place in politics? Tim Black Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond David Runciman
From insurgency to identity Kevin Rooney The New Politics of Sinn Féin Kevin Bean
The Copernicus of the diet debate? Rob Lyons The Diet Delusion: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Loss and Disease Gary Taubes
Mythologising the past, misunderstanding the future Philip Cunliffe The Return of History and the End of Dreams Robert Kagan
‘Mein Kampf for the Hollyoaks generation’ Angus Kennedy Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E Smith Mark E Smith

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The spiked review of books in the news

Off the Shelf , American Scientist Online

Reviewers should wrestle with ideas, not over media , Guardian Arts blog

His Word: Ben Macintyre, ‘I don’t believe humans naturally wallow in the pain of others’ , The Times

How to Convert a Chicken Into a Blood-Spurting Pistol in One Easy Step , Reason Magazine

Chickens Deserve to be Eaten , Jewbiquitous

Live Working or Die Fighting

Better Never to Have Been , Bookforum

The contemporary redefinition of a social category , Bookforum

The new face of American war , Bookforum

Art, humanity and the "fourth hunger" , Bookforum

Marxist Alexander Cockburn, in the Spiked Review of Books, on the silencing of academic dissent over climate change , The Australian

A sensible shade of red , The Western Standard

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