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2013 Highlights from Verso Books

Jennifer Tighe10 December 2013

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From scaling the very highest rooftops to political scandal through the eyes of Alexander Cockburn, we bring you our seasonal highlights for 2013.


Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City
Bradley L. Garrett

"Garrett perceives the city like no one else I know. Seen through his eyes, it is newly porous, full of “vanishing points”, “imperfect joinings” and portals – service hatches, padlocked doorways – that you wouldn't usually notice... The city's accessible space extends far down into the earth (sewers, bunkers, tunnels) and far up into the air (skyscrapers, cranes), with the street level only serving as a median altitude." – Robert Macfarlane, Guardian 

"[Combines] erudite references (Montesquieu, Walter Benjamin) with compelling photographs of men in hoodies in strange places." – Rowan Moore, The Observer Architecture Books of the Year

The View from the Train: Cities and Other Landscapes
Patrick Keiller

"An essayist of stylish rigour on urban planning, architectural decay and the vast culturally occluded material infrastructure that subtends daily life in Britain." – Brian Dillon, Guardian

"Perceptive, educated, un-obvious musings on place and inhabitation." – Rowan Moore, The Observer Architecture Books of the Year

"Keiller is Britain’s most observant and provocative film-maker around the subject of cities and the landscape. In these wonderful essays, he explores the political and cultural forces behind how the UK looks." – Financial Times Books of the Year


The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail
Oscar Martínez

"The most extraordinary (and harrowing) book I read this year was Oscar Martínez’s The Beast. This is a bravura act of frontline reporting that tracks the horror passage that many immigrants must survive (and some don’t) to reach the US from the south... Beautiful and searing and impossible to put down." – picked by Junot Díaz as his book of 2013 in the Financial Times

"Oscar Martínez, a Salvadoran journalist, does a beautiful job describing a world that is hellish, violent and depraved." – The Economist Books of the Year

"The Beast is extraordinary, first, for the courage that Martínez summoned to write it; and, second, for the hidden lives he reveals. No other writer has got this close to a migration that Amnesty International estimates left 70,000 unaccounted for between 2006 and 2012. Read together, the vivid personal stories told here have the force of a novel… Yet if Martínez feels anger, he does not show it. Instead, his precise, empathetic and often poetic language summons rage and pity but also admiration in the reader." – John Paul Rathbone, Financial Times

"The world that Oscar Martínez, a Salvadoran journalist, set out to report on five years ago is so violent, depraved and hellish, you can hardly believe he survived to tell the tale... rugged prose, beautifully translated." – The Economist

Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers
Anabel Hernández

, with its explosive descriptions of decades of corruption permeating the upper echelons of government, leaves an extremely bad taste in the reader’s mouth about the state of Mexico’s perennially corrupt institutions – and begs the question: how much has changed?" – Jude Webber, Financial Times

"An ambitious and daring sketch of the political nexus that ensures the Mexican system of narcotics delivery to the U.S." – Los Angeles Times


A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip Through Political Scandal, Corruption, and American Culture

Alexander Cockburn

"It’s alive on every page, this thing; its feisty sentences wriggle … A Colossal Wreck will have a long life among those who care about the crackling deployment of the English language, partly because Mr. Cockburn had such a wide-ranging mind ... His book is a stay against boredom." – Dwight Garner, New York Times

"A Colossal Wreck provides ample evidence for Cockburn's standing as one of the left's most perceptive and entertaining commentators" – Guardian

"An overflowing goodie basket of wit, expert deprecation, intellectual comradeship… and incisive ramble." – James Wolcott, Vanity Fair

"A sardonic, fearless and prescient commentary on US politics and culture from 1994 to 2012." – Gabriel Byrne, Irish Times Books of the Year

Out of Time: The Pleasures and the Perils of Ageing

Lynne Segal

"A powerful manifesto for dealing with the march of time" – Observer

"Feminists wrestling with this next – last – phase of their distinctive history ought to make for a rich story in the next decades. How does it all seem, looking back? Segal's book is both a reflective essay on perceptions of ageing, and an uneasy shiver of anticipation." – Guardian

"… a wonderfully honest look into a subject everyone should be thinking about." – Pop Matters

"What does it mean to age gracefully? How is this done? These questions are at the centre of a thoughtful new book from Lynne Segal.... Anxious about her own ageing, and mindful of cultural prejudices against the old (“Few adjectives combine faster than ugly-old-woman”), she mines works of literature, psychology, sociology and poetry in search of ways to “acknowledge the actual vicissitudes of old age while also affirming its dignity and, at times, grace or even joyfulness.”" – The Economist

The Village Against the World

Dan Hancox

"It sounds like science fiction: a small rural town led by a charismatic mayor tries to turn itself into a communist utopia. But it’s fact—it’s happening right now in Andalucia, and colliding with the region’s real-world history of violent rebellion and radicalism. Hancox’s book could not be more timely—with Spain on the brink of social crisis and the shadows of the past emerging." – Paul Mason, author of Why It’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere

"Full of lively and genuinely inspiring detail" – Guardian

"Hancox takes us on a trip that inspires one’s visual senses as he depicts the white-washed beauty of the village, one’s taste buds as he describes simple meals capped with thick bread doused in fresh local olive oil, and invites us to envision a collective life freed—as much as possible—from global crises, acquisition and power plays."– Truthdig

"A thoughtful, take-nothing-for-granted account ... this engaging book is as much a study of idealism in practice as it is of life in a highly unusual pueblo. The respectful, intelligent writing places the villagers at the centre of their own story – and that story is fascinating." – New Statesman

Left Hemisphere: Mapping Critical Theory Today 
Razmig Keucheyan

“Explains the key ideas, and the contradictions within them, of authors who are often cited but rarely read.” – Le Monde diplomatique

“A precious tool permitting us to escape the whingeing about the mediocrity of thinkers today and to help us anticipate the tremors yet to come.” – Le Nouvel observateur

“Written with intelligence and clarity.” – Libération

“In this courageous and audacious work, the sociologist Razmig Keucheyan offers a robust . . . panorama of contemporary critical theories.” –

24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep
Jonathan Crary

“[A] dark, brilliant book”– Michael Hardt

“The 24/7 phantasmagoria of digital exchange impresses the commodity deep into the body’s tissues, leaving only sleep as a partial respite. Jonathan Crary updates Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man with a vigilant critique of the totality of the seemingly eternal present of this pseudo-world.” – McKenzie Wark, author of The Spectacle of Disintegration

Why It's Still Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions

(new and fully updated)

Paul Mason

"The writing of this reportage is compact, urgent, present-tense, declarative, and addictive." – Andy Beckett, Guardian

"Paul Mason's enthusiasm and curiosity are infectious. Adapting a rich vein of leftwing revolutionary thought for the wired generation, Mason argues passionately that the old rules have been broken." – John Kampfner, Observer

The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power)
Harry Browne 

“[A] brilliant and blistering book" – George Monbiot, Guardian

“[An] impressively well-researched polemic...Browne's case is simple but devastating.” – Terry Eagleton, Guardian

Masks of Anarchy: The Story of a Radical Poem, from Percy Shelley to the Triangle 
Michael Demson

“It’s a fascinating book for all sorts of reasons, not least its portrayal of America’s ongoing antipathy toward immigrants, which, of course, remains very much in the news.”– LA Times

“A stunning yet nuanced story… In collaboration with talented illustrator Summer McClinton this short graphic novel reaches deep within one's sense of humanness.”– SWANS Commentary

The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South 
Vijay Prashad

"Vijay Prashad has courageously and meticulously forged a fascinating study that challenges mainstream, Western narratives of world history. In this provocative and sweeping exploration, the injustices and subjugation of peoples in the global South are not only made visible but political." – Susanne Soederberg, Professor in Global Development Studies, Queens University, Canada


Altai: A Novel

Wu Ming

"A compelling page-turner" – Edward Stourton, Financial Times

"A swashbuckling romp dreamed up by four Italian anarchists" – The Telegraph


Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art

Jacques Rancière

"... A magisterial book of great scope and ambition that has the capacity to alter how we understand the artistic culture of the past 200 years." – Los Angeles Review of Books

"Jacques Rancière’s Aisthesis transforms the field of aesthetic philosophy." – Libération

"French philosopher Jacques Rancière is a refreshing read for anyone concerned with what art has to do with politics and society." – Art Review

he Hamlet Doctrine: Knowing Too Much, Doing Nothing

Simon Critchley and Jamieson Webster

"A hugely enjoyable, aphoristic, punky, intellectually dazzling bomb of a book: a serious provocation to both the biscuit-box Shakespeare industry and, more widely, to contemporary literary culture" – The Independent

"Critchley and Webster don’t want to write just another book about Hamlet, and they are willing to be rashly provocative." – London Review of Books

Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism

Slavoj Žižek

"Few thinkers illustrate the contradictions of contemporary capitalism better than Slavoj Žižek ... one of the world's best-known public intellectuals." – John Gray, New York Review of Books

"A gifted speaker—tumultuous, emphatic, direct—and he writes as he speaks." – Jonathan Rée, Guardian

"The Hegel that Žižek loves is much like Žižek himself: a relentless iconoclast, a restless wordsmith, an inventive thinker with a hatred of received wisdom, an underminer of conventionally acknowledged truths. Žižek's Hegel is kind of a cosmic prankster." - Bookforum

"A lucid rendering of modern society’s debt to Hegel." – Publishers Weekly


"A golden treasury of theory." – Eric Banks, Bookforum

"Verso's beautifully designed Radical Thinkers series, which brings together seminal works by leading left-wing intellectuals, is a sophisticated blend of theory and thought." – Ziauddin Sardar, New Statesman

The stylish books in our iconic Radical Thinkers series offer insights from the world’s most daring thinkers. Set 7, published this year, features Slavoj Žižek, André Gorz, Simon Critchley, Alain Badiou, Max Horkheimer, Wilhelm Reich, Maurice Godelier, Valentin Voloshinov, Karl Korsch, Jean Baudrillard, Ludwig Feuerbach and Fredric Jameson. Titles are available to purchase individually or as a set.


Never Let a Serious Crisis go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown

Philip Mirowski

"It is hard to imagine a historian who was not an economist (as Mirowski is) being able to encompass the economics of the second half of the 20th century in its diversity and technicality." – London Review of Books

"Philip Mirowksi is the most imaginative and provocative writer at work today on the recent history of economics." – Boston Globe

The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire

Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch

"The most important leftist book of the year, and probably the decade." – The Stranger

A Companion to Marx's Capital, Volume 2

David Harvey

"No short review can do justice to this outstanding book ... Essential."
 – Michael Perelman, Choice

Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All
Costas Lapavitsas

"This book is a profound and panoramic study of the most powerful but destructive economic force of our time – financialization. A must-read for anyone who is committed to progressive economic and social transformation." – Ha-Joon Chang, Author of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

"A Marxist take on economic meltdown... highlights the corrosive effect of finance" – Financial Times


A Civil War: A History of the Italian Resistanc

Claudio Pavone

"Pavone’s great work is among the few indisputable masterpieces of contemporary history. But more than this, it is a unique meditation on the passions and tensions that continue to swirl beneath the surface of modern politics." – Financial Times

The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom

Marcus Rediker

"Tells the story of a group of slaves who rose up… a revolt that caught the imagination of poor people everywhere—and showed slaves could win" – Socialist Worker

Boy 30529: A Memoir
Felix Weinberg

"I wasn't only moved by it. I was strengthened by it." – Michael Rosen

Moving — and genuine" – Daily Mail

"Told with an honest, contemporary, sometimes wry viewpoint, Weinberg’s graphic memories are haunting, as he searches the Web and historical archives to find out now what he did not know then, while it was happening to him: where he was marching, how many died. The dual perspective, then and now, and the blend of family intimacy (including occasional photos) with the gripping, authoritative historical overview make this an essential title for discussion."  – Booklist

Che Wants to See You: The Untold Story of Che Guevara 
Ciro Bustos 

“The last vital element that completes the jigsaw of Che Guevara’s extraordinary life. This long-awaited book is both an important contribution to history and a gripping read.” – Richard Gott, author of A New History of Cuba

“Bustos's powers of observation and critical commentary make this required reading for both historians of revolution and future world-changers.” – Publisher's Weekly


The Girl Who Stole my Holocaust
Noam Chayut

"In this shattering memoir, former Israeli army officer Chayut details his long, painful journey of self-realization … Chayut could be any one of us, anywhere; if only we all had the courage to face ourselves so unflinchingly." – Publishers Weekly

"Chayut recounts his belated realisation of his complicity in the insidious cruelty of the [Israeli] occupation" – The Independent

Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace
Josh Ruebner

"A stinging indictment of the absurdity of the Obama administration's failed peace process." Tikkun

"In a piercing critique of the Obama administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Josh Ruebner brings clarity to the challenges and pitfalls of this thorny issue." – Mufta

The Invention of the Land of Israel
Shlomo Sand 

“His achievement consists in debunking a nationalist mythology which holds sway in large sections of popular opinion. It also normalises Jews, since it challenges the belief in exceptionalism...Truth-telling may be painful but necessary." – Donald Sassoon, Guardian

“A thought-provoking, readable, and important work.”– Publisher's Weekly