50 years of Verso Books

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In 1970, Verso–named after the term for a left-hand page–began as New Left Books. Founded by the journal New Left Review, the fledging imprint sought to invigorate the Anglophone intellectual world with the energy and insight of the best continental philosophy and social theory.

Now, 50 years on, Verso brings you radical voices that challenge capitalism, racism and patriarchy, debate the future of the planet, and offer far-reaching proposals for social and political change. Our publishing has grown in ways we never could have predicted, in response to unfolding crises and ongoing inequalities. Most recently, we made our books on police and prison abolition free to download following the huge resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests around the world. After more than two hundred thousand downloads of Alex Vitale’s The End of Policing, we’ve doubled down on the work that we’re doing with writers and activists on policing and prisons, race and class, and the ecological crisis. We’re working on new books by Ruth Wilson Gilmore on abolition, Rachel Herzing on prisons, George Ciccariello-Maher on police, Jarrod Shanahan on Rikers, and many more.

At the height of the first Covid-19 lockdown in New York and London, as we struggled to comprehend the scale of the unfolding tragedy, all of us at Verso were also trying to work out if we still had a publishing house to work for. After the closure of almost all bookstores in the English-speaking world, it seemed unlikely. We have our readers to thank for supporting us through the last 4 months, and our warehouses for continuing to work, safely, through lockdown.

With the road ahead still uncertain for independent publishing, we have looked to see how we can ensure that the important ideas that we publish has a future. Earlier this month, we launched the Verso Book Club: a subscription model with print and digital options, priced as low as possible, so that we can make everything that we publish accessible to all. Support the future of radical publishing at Verso by joining: all membership tiers are 50% off to mark our 50th year.

Over the next couple of months, we have some incredible events planned for our 50th anniversary, including Judith Butler and Amia Srinivasan, and Legacy Russell and McKenzie Wark. See them all here.  We’ve also started releasing video interviews with Verso’s founders and authors, exploring fifty years of research, writing and activism, starting with Tariq Ali and Sebastian Budgen.

As well as 50% off all our Book Club memberships, we also have 40% off everything we publish for the next month! However, if you do sign up to our bookclub then you will get 50% off everything, for as long as you are a member.

At this momentous time for global politics, we hope you will join us in holding capitalism and imperialism to account and supporting a new wave of radical movements around the world.

Below we suggest 50 books from across our 50 years of publishing: a starting place for exploring 50 years of radical ideas. We have lots more reading lists to help navigate our publishing here!

A compendium of revolt and resistance: packed full of voices of dissent from every era of human history.

The problem is not overpolicing, it is policing itself.

In The Origin of Capitalism, a now-classic work of history, Ellen Meiksins Wood offers readers a clear and accessible introduction to the theories and debates concerning the birth of capitalism, imperialism, and the modern nation state. 

The world-famous work on the origins and development of nationalism.

How the law harms sex workers—and what they want instead.

An exemplary work of political, economic, and historical analysis, powerfully introduced by Angela Davis.

Judith Butler’s new book shows how an ethic of nonviolence must be connected to a broader political struggle for social equality.

The best-selling account of the life of Latin American peasant woman and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

With race and the police once more burning issues, this classic work from one of America’s giants of black radicalism has lost none of its prescience or power.

Leading artist and writer James Bridle surveys the history of art, technology, and information systems, and reveals the dark clouds that gather over our dreams of the digital sublime.

Lefebvre's classic analysis of daily life under capitalism in one complete volume.

Perry Anderson’s essay “The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci,” first published in New Left Review in 1976, was an explosive analysis of the central strategic concepts in the thought of the great Italian Marxist. Since then it has been the subject of book-length attacks across four decades for its disentangling of the hesitations and contradictions in Gramsci’s highly original usage of such key dichotomies as East and West, domination and direction, hegemony and dictatorship, state and civil society, and war of position and war of movement.

An unprecedented collection of feminist voices from four millennia of global history.

Insurgent Empire shows how Britain’s enslaved and colonial subjects were active agents in their own liberation. What is more, they shaped British ideas of freedom and emancipation back in the United Kingdom.

A classic work of Marxist analysis, available unabridged for the first time.

A powerful document of theday-to-day realities of Black women in Britain.

A classic of twentieth-century thought, Minima Moralia is Adorno's literary and philosophical masterpiece.

A graphic novel of the dramatic life and death of German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.

A major manifesto for the end of capitalism.

The relationship between utopia and science fiction, in the age of globalization.

First volume of a major project to publish the complete works of a remarkable social theorist.

A Planet to Win explores the political potential and concrete first steps of a Green New Deal. It calls for dismantling the fossil fuel industry, building beautiful landscapes of renewable energy, and guaranteeing climate-friendly work, no-carbon housing, and free public transit. And it shows how a Green New Deal in the United States can strengthen climate justice movements worldwide.

An intense and lively debate on literature and art between thinkers who became some of the great figures of twentieth-century philosophy and literature.

A searing critique of participatory art by an iconoclastic historian.

John Berger, one of the world’s most celebrated art writers, takes us through centuries of drawing and painting, revealing his lifelong fascination with a diverse cast of artists. 

Who were the Frankfurt School—Benjamin, Adorno, Marcuse, Horkheimer—and why do they matter today?

Charts the history of women’s liberation and calls for a revitalized feminism.

Acclaimed fantasy author China Miéville plunges us into the year the world was turned upside down.

A magisterial, riveting movement history of Los Angeles in the Sixties.

A different kind of politics for a new kind of society—beyond work, scarcity and capitalism.

One of the world’s best-known radicals relives the early years of the protest movement.

It’s not capitalism, it’s not neoliberalism—what if it’s something worse?

An exploration of gender and desire from our most exciting new public intellectual.

What is wrong with capitalism, and how can we change it?

Erik Olin Wright has distilled decades of work into this concise and tightly argued manifesto: analyzing the varieties of anticapitalism, assessing different strategic approaches, and laying the foundations for a society dedicated to human flourishing. 

Workers and Capital is universally recognised as the most important work produced by operaismo, a current of political thought emerging in the 1960s that revolutionised the institutional and extra-parliamentary Left in Italy and beyond. Five decades since it was first published, Workers and Capital remains a key text in the history of the international workers’ movement, yet only now appears in English translation for the first time. 

Neoliberalism is fracturing, but what will emerge in its wake?

For nearly forty years, David Harvey has written and lectured on Capital, becoming one of the world’s foremost Marx scholars. Based on his recent lectures, this current volume—finally bringing together his guides to volumes I, II and much of III—presents this depth of learning to a broader audience, guiding first-time readers through a fascinating and deeply rewarding text. 

How two centuries of Indigenous resistance created the movement proclaiming “Water is life”.

A remarkable intellectual history of the slave revolts that made the modern revolutionary era.

A pocket colour manifesto for a new futuristic feminism.

A powerful challenge to the way we understand the politics of race and the history of anti-racist struggle.

The provocative political thinker asks if it will be with a bang or a whimper.

A classic history of the role of Black working-class struggles throughout the twentieth century.

George Monbiot is one of the most vocal, and eloquent, critics of the current consensus. How Did We Get into this Mess?, based on his powerful journalism, assesses the state we are now in: the devastation of the natural world, the crisis of inequality, the corporate takeover of nature, our obsessions with growth and profit and the decline of the political debate over what to do. 

An exhilarating exploration into the utopias and dystopias that could develop from present society.

An absorbing selection of Walter Benjamin’s personal manuscripts, images, and documents.

Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call “racecraft.” And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life. So pervasive are the devices of racecraft in American history, economic doctrine, politics, and everyday thinking that the presence of racecraft itself goes unnoticed.

What is the “populist moment” and what does it mean for the left?

The most comprehensive collection of feminist manifestos, chronicling our rage and dreams from the nineteenth century to today.

Why we misunderstand the nature of money, and what we can do about it.

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 See all our reading guides here!

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