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Review: Viva La Revolución by Eric Hobsbawm

viva la revolucion

This is my first venture into respected leftist author, Eric Hobsbawm’s work. The book was compiled after the author’s death in 2012 and is a collection of his writings on Latin America after he spent over forty years passionately exploring the continent. The essays have a deep focus on the poor masses of the populations, the peasants, the guerrillas, the indigenous natives. Latin America is at a crossroads between Third World poverty and Western modernity. A mainly homogenous tongue (ie. Spanish) unites the continent and the erosion of old colonial privileged elites has led to the people gaining much power at the bottom rungs of society. there are detailed chapters on Castro’s Cuban revolution, the fallout of ‘La Violencia’ and ensuing FARC civil war conflict in Colombia, and the progress of pure democratic socialism in Allende’s Chile. Hobsbawm can microanalyse peasant conditions in remote Peruvian altiplano villages yet never loses track of the underlying general political picture. The burdens of colonialism and unfair international political relationships are often seen as a root cause for lack of development. The author always maintains an optimism for the disaffected masses who he protects with intellectual rigour, even if in many cases the reality of the actual situations and future prospects are often futile. This book will form a great reference tool for my university essays on Hispanic Studies and I hope that I can continue to explore Eric Hobsbawm’s other wide range of literary material.

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Review: Atatürk – The Rebirth of a Nation – by Patrick Kinross

Atatürk

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was from humble beginnings. He lived through a critical period of Turkish history, witnessing the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire and making it possible for the modern secular, Western-focused nation state of Turkey to phoenix itself from the Ashes. Atatürk was a military man and although very lucky, his innovative and dedicated intellect assisted in him being Turkeys only undefeated senior commander during World War 1 and their last bastion of defence as plunderers tried to savage the imperial remnants of the Ottomans. A weak caliph and a corrupted government, led for quite some time by leaders of the Young Turks, were features that led to Atatürk’s politicisation. Eventually, after a civil war, he would set up a new Anatolian capital in Ankara and slowly tried to seep away power and influence from the decadence of Constantinople or Istanbul. Atatürk, was a workaholic. It left him little time for family. He was dependent on alcohol and this would eventually cause his premature death. As power grew within him he could often display treachery towards his old friends and allies, and it was in Atatürk a certain sense of ego that caused some of the more irrational yet adventurous moves in both his career as a soldier and later as a global politician. The man was undoubtedly remarkable and is one of the most colourful and indeed successful people from the early twentieth century. To this day in modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s legacy lives on.

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Review: Doing The Business – The Final Confession of the Senior Kray brother by Colin Fry and Charlie Kray

doing the business

The notoriety of the Kray twins, Ronnie and Reggie, is present in their legacy. These were the most infamous London gangsters to emerge during the 1960s. Their older brother, Charlie, used to try and keep his distance from Firm activities, yet he had a lot of insider knowledge of operations. In this confession, he reveals many of the truths behind the Kray twins and in this book, in a relaxed and casual manner, Charlie Kray exposes the realities of the true story. The biography takes us back to the childhood of the Krays and the start of the tale tells of the three brothers and their youthful vitality as boxers in East London’s heart, Bethnal Green. Some of the more interesting tales cover breaking Ronnie out of mental hospitals, the setting up of various base of operations in nightclubs. Also, there is a lot of dealing with celebrities, and of course, how to invest profits, with trips abroad into the heart of Africa, looking for investment opportunities. Liaisons with the American Mafia, once their security strategy and business dominance as entertainment Kingpins in London’s West End had been established. There isn’t a massive amount of revelation with regard to the two major incidents that eventually took down Ronnie and Reggie: the murder of George Cornell in the Blind Beggar pub and the murder of Jack ‘The Hat’ McVie by Reggie in a frenzied knife attack. There’s not su much revealing of criminal activity, but more a general overview of the main movements of the Kray operations. It’s a great tale, full of mystery and it is clear that the Kray legend was born out of some pretty successful true events. I think the book is perhaps a little too brief and a bit scanty in parts and I will have to follow up with further research by covering other works. It was a sad state of affairs that the police continued to pursue Charlie after they had put the twins away until they finally managed to fit him up as a large cocaine trafficker and send him to the jail where he spent out most of his latter years. True adventure, true crime, true life.

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