Reading list

Verso authors recommend summer reading

We’ve asked some Verso authors to share the books they are most looking forward to reading this summer.

Verso Books 5 July 2017

Verso authors recommend summer reading

Authors of some of our recently published and upcoming titles share the books they can't wait to read this summer!

Check out our summer reading list: whether you're a basic beach, imagining a post-work future, contemplating the downfall of capitalism, or want to spend your time off dreaming of fighting back, we have the book for you in our Summer Reading.

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Anna Feigenbaum, author of Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of WWI to the Streets of Today (on sale in November):

I've got Naomi Alderman's new book The Power on the top of my beach reading list. With the success of The Handmaid's Tale TV adaptation, it is great to see that feminist sci-fi is getting a much deserved moment in the spotlight.

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Ashley Dawson, author of Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change (on sale in October):

The book I’m most looking forward to reading this summer is Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140. The reasons should be obvious: after having spent a couple of years researching and writing about the myriad threats New York City faces as a result of climate change, Robinson’s novel promises a welcome immersion in a post-deluge urban milieu where people have learned to cope with rising tides and to survive in the wreckage of a capitalist system that currently seems hell-bent on planetary ecocide. If Robinson can successfully imagine the terraforming of Mars, I’m sure he can figure out ways to pluck survival and solace from the grim future faced by New York and other global cities.

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Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing (on sale in October):

I'm excited to read two recent books that explore the negative consequences of relying on the criminal justice system and poorly conceived punitive social services approaches to dealing with sex work in its many forms. Both Jennifer Musto's Control and Protect: Collaboration, Carceral Protection, and Domestic Sex Trafficking and Susan Dewey's Women on the Streets: How the Criminal Justice-Social Services Alliance Fails Women in Prostitution rely on extensive empirical data to question the dominant liberal and conservative frameworks that view sex workers as either passive victims in need of saving or as threats to community stability in need of punishment.

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Kate Evans, author of Threads: From the Refugee Crisis and Red Rosa:

Of course it's going to be a graphic novel. Irmina by Barbara Yelin. I read the English translation, published by SelfMadeHero, though I imagine the German original would be especially poignant. It's a beautifully executed exploration of the life of Yeltsin's grandmother, with exquisite, messy, impressionistic, oil painted panels. The story centres around the central character's complicity with the Nazi regime, exploring issues of power, compromise, and alternative, unlived other lives. It's gorgeous, and horrible, like life itself.

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Joshua Clover, author of Riot.Strike.Riot:

So much I am looking forward to reading. I am teaching a course on poetry and the Black Radical Tradition next fall and so educating myself especially about the Red Summer of 1919. But for pleasure I am looking forward to Anwar Shaikh. His essay on crisis theory is one of the most graceful, lucid pieces of economic writing around. So I am very excited at finally having the time to work through Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises. [Benjamin] Kunkel says he will read it with me.

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Mark Lause, author of The Great Cowboy Strike: Bullets, Ballots and Class Conflicts in the American West (on sale in November):

Labor organizations and activities have been in decline for decades, particularly in the United States. This is usually simply ascribed to those ghostly market forces and technological trends. Against Labor: How U.S. Employers Organized to Defeat Union Activism, eds. Rosemary Feurer and Chad Pearson (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2017) offers a historical perspective on the conscious efforts of the dominant economic forces in the society to eradicate unionism, including violent and illegal attacks on working citizens for exercising their alleged rights. The collection includes work by Michael Dennis, Elizabeth Esch, Dolores E. Janiewski, Thomas A. Klug, Peter Rachleff, David Roediger, Howard Stanger, and Robert Woodrum, and addresses a largely neglected factor in the decline of the labor movement in our own day.

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L.A. Kauffman, author of Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism:

This summer, I'm looking forward to having some of my deepest assumptions challenged by Sunaura Taylor's acclaimed new book, Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation. Taylor draws on her background as a writer, visual artist, and activist -- as well as a disabled person -- to explore how we divide human from non-human, and lives we deem worthy from those we deem expendable, weaving together philosophy and memoir to pose important and unsettling questions about ability, compassion, solidarity, and responsibility.

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Franco “Bifo” Berardi, author of Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility (just out this month):

Claudia Rankine: Don't Let Me Be Lonely
Vasili Grossman: Life and Fate
Maria Zambrano: Espana Sueno y Verdad
Maria Zambrano: La agonia de Europa
and also (most important) Walter Siti: Bruciare Tutto

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David Roediger, author of Class, Race and Marxism (just out this month):

Being still nearly a century behind on my reading, my favorite early summer book has been B. Traven's 1929 novel The Cotton-Pickers, originally titled The Wobbly. This page-turning story of solidarity and harm treats the impact of the Mexican Revolution and raises profound questions about how working class radicalism travels and stays.

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Christina Heatheron, co-editor of Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter:

“Makers of wealth are invisible in America,” writes Sterling D. Plumpp, in the untitled poem that opens Development Arrested: The Blues and Plantation Power in the Mississippi Delta, “I excavate with songs.” At the heart of Clyde Woods’ magisterial volume is an elaboration of what he calls Blues epistemology, the Blues as a philosophical system of explanation by the Black working class. Tracing the socio-spatial development of the Mississippi Delta region over twelve historical moments of crisis, he finds blues epistemology arising in opposition to the intellectual traditions of the plantocracy and the “lovingly cultivated theoretical blindness” of its scholars, politicians, and planners. Verso has just re-released Woods’ classic text with a new introduction by Ruth Wilson Gilmore. “The blues,” Woods wrote, “are the cries of a new society being born.” Read this book alongside the songs he describes to imagine what a new society might sound like.

Fortuitously, the re-release coincides with the posthumous publication of Woods’ Development Drowned and Reborn: The Blues and Bourbon Restorations in Post-Katrina New Orleans, co-edited and completed by Jordan T. Camp and Laura Pulido (University of Georgia Press). This much anticipated text situates the capitalist crisis of Hurricane Katrina in a long Blues geography of dispossession and exploitation, stretching over several centuries of struggle in the region. Offering an alternative explanation to the shock doctrine thesis, Woods interprets Hurricane Katrina as bringing, “long-standing structures of racism and class domination…into view,” as his co-editors describe. Both publications should prompt new study of Woods’ insights on racism, capitalism, and resistance. Years after his untimely passing, Woods should now receive the recognition as a critical scholar of geography, political economy, and popular culture he so richly deserved in life.


Our 2017 Summer Reading list includes a bit of Marx and Trotsky, histories of rioting and protest movements, imagining the downfall of capitalism, and lots more!




Tear Gas
One hundred years ago, French troops fired tear gas grenades into German trenches. Designed to force people out from behind barricades and trenches, tear gas causes burning of the eyes and skin, te...
Extreme Cities
How will climate change affect our lives? Where will its impacts be most deeply felt? Are we doing enough to protect ourselves from the coming chaos? In Extreme Cities, Ashley Dawson argues that ci...
The End of Policing
The massive uprising following the police killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020--by some estimates the largest protests in US history--thrust the argument to defund the police to the forefr...
**LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR BOOKS 2018**In the French port town of Calais, famous for its historic lace industry, a city within a city arose. This new town, known as the Jungle, was home ...
Riot. Strike. Riot
Baltimore. Ferguson. Tottenham. Clichy-sous-Bois. Oakland. Ours has become an “age of riots” as the struggle of people versus state and capital has taken to the streets. Award-winning poet and scho...
The Great Cowboy Strike
Although later made an icon of “rugged individualism,” the American cowboy was a grossly exploited and underpaid seasonal worker, who waged a series of militant strikes in the generally isolated an...
Direct Action
A vibrant, groundbreaking history of American radicalism since the SixtiesWhat happened to the American left after the Sixties? This engrossing account traces the evolution of disruptive protest ov...
We live in an age of impotence. Stuck between global war and global finance, between identity and capital, we seem to be incapable of producing that radical change that is so desperately needed. Is...
Class, Race, and Marxism
Seen as a key figure in the critical study of whiteness, US historian David Roediger has sometimes received criticism, and praise, alleging that he left Marxism behind in order to work on questions...
Policing the Planet

Policing the Planet

Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first e...

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