Peter Englund, writing in the Financial Times emphasizes Domosławksi’s revelations about Kapuściński’s affiliation with the communist party in Poland- an aspect of his life that Kapuściński never addressed publicly, "instead choosing to gloss over his background. It didn’t fit the image of that brave teller of uncomfortable truths …"
"Domosławksi provides perspective both on Kapuściński’s enduring membership of the communist party and his much more fleeting engagements for Polish Intelligence, and he leaves you with a sense of what went on in the head of this man."Moving on to one of the other revelations of the book, Englund draws out Kapuściński’s emphasis on the importance of the ‘essence’ of the story, as opposed to the objective truth, noting that Domosławksi even regards, "the well-known figure of Ryszard Kapuściński’ as one of Kapuściński’s literary achievements." On the subject of literary achievements, Englund reveals that:
"Kapuściński was often mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature – and, as a member of the body that awards it, I can say he came very close indeed."
Finally, though, he emphasises the achievements of his biographer:
“This insightful book reminds us that we reveal ourselves too in our evasions and confabulations and indeed, that the distortions of reality are an important part of the image of reality."
This week Artur Domoslawski’s Ryszard Kapuściński: A Life featured as the Independent’s Book of the Week and was also reviewed in the Observer.
Marek Kohn, writing in the Independent, focuses on one of the most compelling revelations of the book that,
It remains clear that whatever else [Kapuściński] may have been, he really was a communist.
Thus he points out that, as a reporter, ‘he was neither neutral nor independent’, concealing information when it clashed with his ideological aims such as the fact that:
In Angola he learned that Cubans were assisting the leftist MPLA, a development that could have provoked Western intervention, but kept quiet about it.
“The public spaces at the heart of our regenerated cities turn out not to be very public at all (as the Occupy protesters found when they tried to camp in privately owned Paternoster Square in the City and were forced to fall back on the Church).”
Edwin Heathcote’s review of Owen Hatherley’s critique of Britain’s 21st century urban development, A New Kind of Bleak in the Financial Times points out one of the fundamental arguments of the book, namely the failure of modern city planning to engage and involve the communities within which and ostensibly for which it is built.
Soccer vs. the State — Gabriel Kuhn (PM Press)
A political perspective on the world’s most popular sport. Ex semi-professional footballer Gabriel Kuhn explores both the criticisms of soccer as a vehicle for right-wing agendas and its potential for radical activists providing an enlightening take on our notions about sport in general.
AAP 030 Anarchist Football (Soccer) Manual — AAP Collective (AAP Collective)
Published by Alpine Anarchist productions (AAP), Kuhn’s own publishing enterprise, this handbook explores the history of football from a uniquely radical angle. Arguing that the game is now a hotbed of commercialism, this bestselling pamphlet aims to enable anarchist fans to reconcile themselves to enjoyment of the game beyond the capitalist agenda of its modern-day manifestation.
Passion of the People?: Football in South America — Tony Mason
An analysis of the political role of football in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay that examines its positive and negative uses as an instrument of social control. Published in 1994, Mason's book examines the place of sport within the social fabric of these societies after Brazil’s World Cup win of that year. Passion of the People is an indispensable companion during the confluence of nations of widely varying degrees of wealth and political stability that is the Olympic Games.
Those Damn Yankees: The Secret Life of America’s Greatest Franchise — Dean Chadwin
Dean Chadwin’s investigation into America’s most famous baseball team reveals the discrepancies between the commercial and competitive aspects of the sport and its benign media image. This unflinching investigation into the hidden realities of professional sports is particularly relevant during Olympic season inviting the reader to question what lies beneath the wholesome veneer of the Olympic spectacle.
Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties—Mike Marqusee
Muhammad Ali’s appearance at the Olympics opening ceremony reflected his legendary status in the sporting world. Marqusee’s book highlights Ali’s political role as a radical and stresses his importance as a voice of dissent in the turbulent decade of the 60s. Marqusee assesses Ali’s biography within an international context explaining his appeal to the wider global community as represented in London this summer.
Theatres of Memory: Past and Present in Contemporary Culture— Raphael Samuel
Director Danny Boyle presented his personal stance on a broad sweep of British history in the Olympics opening ceremony to a world audience of billions. Samuel’s imaginative and original argument that history is a living practice, forged and mutated across generations, enables a critical evaluation of the implications of this kind of creative interpretation of history.
Anyone But England: Cricket and the National Malaise — Mike Marqusee
American author Mike Marqusee reassesses the quintessentially English game of cricket. From his unique perspective Marqusee brings fresh insight to recounting its history and dares to probe into some of its controversies such as racism and sexism. As the world focuses on Britain during the Olympics, this book invites analysis of how this national and imperial pastime can illuminate the nation’s relationship with sport.
Critique of Everyday Life: Volume One — Henri Lefebvre
As a social, political and certainly consumerist event for the masses, how do the Olympic Games affect and reflect the ‘everyday life’ of contemporary society? Lefebvre’s seminal critique provides an intellectual framework by which to judge the Olympic phenomenon.
Soccer in Sun and Shadow — Eduardo Galeano
Galeano’s book charts the passionate highs and desperate lows of soccer in this compelling snapshot of the human side of the sport. With anecdotes and accounts from across the world, this memoir of the game is a refreshing and idiosyncratic insight into the intensity of the sporting life.
Peasant-Citizen & Slave: the Foundations of Athenian Democracy — Ellen Meiskins Wood
This radical re-reading of Athenian democracy seeks to and succeeds in fundamentally altering our perceptions of slavery and citizenship in ancient Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Games.
The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century— Peter Linebaugh
Peter Linebaugh’s bottom-up history of hanging in 18th Century London explores the complex political and economic contexts of criminalization and punishment in society. This history sheds light on the low-tolerance policing of the Olympics, which kicked off with the mass arrest of almost 200 cyclists during the opening ceremony.
Night Haunts: A Journey Through the London Night — Sukdhev Sandhu
Taking H.V. Morton’s 1926, The Nights of London as his inspiration and companion, Sandhu presents a series of memoirs of London’s nocturnal life as recalled by the ordinary people who inhabit it; from cabbies to cleaners. A world away from the manicured sterility of the Olympic Park, Sandhu’s book offers a rich and personal compendium of a side of the city that most tourists will miss.
Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea — Alberto Toscano
The phrase ‘sports fanatic’ will be used liberally this summer by media commentators. London’s hosting of the event may even turn the usually uninterested into sports fanatics in the name of patriotism but is our understanding of the notion of fanaticism accurate or even fair? Toscano argues that our associations with the word require re-evaluation and stresses the important role that forms of fanaticism have played in political history.
Barbaric Sport: A Global Plague — Marc Perelman
Perelman’s book takes a subversive look at sport and global sporting events such as the Olympics to reveal their darker side. He argues that sport has become an instrument of political control and a vehicle for capitalist monoculture. This timely polemic offers refreshing reading to those looking for an antidote to this summer’s Olympian frenzy.
Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism — Stephen Graham
This authoritative study examines the rapid and dangerous spread and normalization of surveillance and state policing in western cities and warzones alike under the guise of national security. As such it provides an unsettling and provocative insight into the global backdrop of the rising costs and militarization of London’s Olympic Games security operation.
A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain— Owen Hatherley
Hatherley’s critical tour of Britain’s urban centres incorporates the latest and most high profile attempt at regeneration offering a carefully considered indictment of the architectural and social failures of Stratford’s Olympic sites.