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The Year in 10 Books

10 books that you do not want to miss from this year.

Verso Books17 November 2019

The Year in 10 Books

As we approach the end of 2019, we look back at a year of books that engage with the turbulent global crisis in which we find ourselves, as well as ideas to help us re-imagine our futures.

You can find all our 2019 highlights here, but for those short on time we suggest these 10 key books from across our diverse publishing.

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Much has been written on how colonized peoples took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. Insurgent Empire sets the record straight in demonstrating that these people were much more than victims of imperialism or, subsequently, the passive beneficiaries of an enlightened British conscience—they were insurgents whose legacies shaped and benefited the nation that once oppressed them.

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In the twenty-first century, new technologies should liberate us from work. Automation, rather than undermining an economy built on full employment, is instead the path to a world of liberty, luxury and happiness—for everyone. In Fully Automated Luxury Communism, Aaron Bastani conjures a vision of extraordinary hope, showing how we move to energy abundance, feed a world of 9 billion, overcome work, transcend the limits of biology, and establish meaningful freedom for everyone. 

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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, this classic text of Italian workerism is finally available in English. Far from being simply an artefact of the intense political conflicts of the 1960s, Tronti’s work offers extraordinary tools for understanding the powerful shifts in the nature of work and class composition in recent decades.

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A lyrical meditation on trauma and memory, as well as a furious account of a woman’s struggle to survive and be believed. Vigdis Hjorth’s novel became a controversial literary sensation in Norway and has been translated into twenty languages.

“Like Knausgaard, Hjorth is writing against repression, against the taboo on telling things as they really are. But he urges us to look at dead bodies; she forces us to regard bleeding souls. Hjorth seems to have formulated from her experiments with living models a model for living, in which exposure—of the self and of others—serves a larger purpose.” – Lauren Collins, New Yorker

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In Our History Is the Future, Nick Estes traces traditions of Indigenous resistance that led to the #NoDAPL movement. It is at once a work of history, a manifesto, and an intergenerational story of resistance.

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“Want to know why the rent’s so high? Samuel Stein meticulously documents and analyzes the rise of the rip-off ‘real estate state,’ the instruments of its power, the invidious ‘plansplaining’ arguments of its defenders, and, above all, its accelerating ethnic and class cleansing of American cities, gentrification-frenzied New York in the vanguard. This superbly succinct and incisive book couldn’t be more timely or urgent.” – Michael Sorkin, author of All Over the Map

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Since 1843, the Economist has been the single most devoted and  influential champion of liberalism anywhere in the world. But what exactly is liberalism, and how has the liberal message evolved? Liberalism at Large  presents a history of liberalism on the move, confronting the challenges that classical doctrine left unresolved: the rise of  democracy, the expansion of empire, the ascendancy of finance. This is the first critical biography of one of the  architects of a liberal world order now under increasing strain

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Through interviews with leading policy-makers, asylum seekers, and immigration lawyers, Goodfellow illuminates the dark underbelly of contemporary immigration policies. A nuanced analysis of the UK’s immigration policy from the 1960s onwards, Hostile Environment links immigration policy and the rhetoric of both Labour and Tory governments to the UK’s colonial past and its imperialist present. Goodfellow shows that distinct forms of racism and dehumanisation directly resulted from immigration policy, and reminds us of the human cost of concessions to anti-immigration politics.

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In this radical and visionary new book, McKenzie Wark argues that information has empowered a new kind of ruling class. While techno-utopian apologists still celebrate these innovations as an improvement on capitalism, for workers—and the planet—it’s worse. Drawing on the writings of a surprising range of classic and contemporary theorists, Wark offers an illuminating overview of the contemporary condition and the emerging class forces that control—and contest—it.

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Capitalism has transformed the world and increased our productivity, but at the cost of enormous human suffering.

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. How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century is an urgent and powerful argument for socialism, and an unparalleled guide to help us get there. 


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See also:

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ALL our books are 50% off until January 1 as part of our end-of-year sale! See full details here, as well as our End of Year Highlights, Gift Guide, and our best short reads.

Insurgent Empire
Much has been written on the how colonial subjects took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. The possibility of reverse...
Hardback
Fully Automated Luxury Communism
Fully Automated Luxury Communism promises a radically new left future for everyone. New technologies will liberate us from work, providing the opportunity to build a society beyond both capitalism ...
Workers and Capital
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-...
Will and Testament
Longlisted for The Millions Best Translated Book Awards for FictionLonglisted for the National Book Award for Translated LiteratureFour siblings. Two summer houses. One terrible secret. When a disp...
Our History Is the Future
In 2016, a small protest encampment at the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, initially established to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, grew to be the largest Indigenou...
Hardback (2019)
Capital City
Our cities are changing. Global real estate is now a $217 trillion dollar industry, 36 times the value of all the gold ever mined. It makes up 60 percent of the world's assets, and the most powerfu...
Liberalism at Large
In this landmark book, Alexander Zevin looks at the development of modern liberalism by examining the long history of the Economist newspaper, which, since 1843, has been the most tireless – and in...
Hostile Environment
Longlisted for the 2019 Jhalak Prize. From the 1960s the UK’s immigration policy - introduced by both Labour and Tory governments - has been a toxic combination of racism and xenophobia. Maya Good...
Paperback (2019)
Capital Is Dead
In this radical and visionary new book, McKenzie Wark argues that the all-pervasive presence of data in our networked society has given rise to a new mode of production, one not ruled over by capit...
How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century
Capitalism has transformed the world and increased our productivity, but at the cost of enormous human suffering. Our shared values equality and fairness, democracy and freedom, community and solid...
Full Surrogacy Now
"Rooted in historical, site-based, narrative, and political accounts, Full Surrogacy Now is the seriously radical cry for full gestational justice that I long for. This kind of gestation depends on...
Hostile Environment
Longlisted for the 2019 Jhalak Prize. From the 1960s the UK’s immigration policy - introduced by both Labour and Tory governments - has been a toxic combination of racism and xenophobia. Maya Good...
Paperback (2019)
The Political Writings
Karl Marx was not only the great theorist of capitalism, he was also a superb journalist, politician and historian. For the first time ever, this book brings together all of his essential political...
One Man's Terrorist
The conflict in Northern Ireland was one of the most devastating in post-war Europe, claiming the lives of 3,500 people and injuring many more. This book is a riveting new history of the radical po...
Imperial Intimacies
‘Where are you from?’ was the question hounding Hazel Carby as a girl in post–World War II London. One of the so-called brown babies of the Windrush generation, born to a Jamaican father and Welsh ...
The People's Republic of Walmart
For the left and the right, major multinational companies are held up as the ultimate expressions of free-market capitalism. Their remarkable success appears to vindicate the old idea that modern s...
Females
“Everyone is female, and everyone hates it.”So begins Andrea Long Chu’s genre-defying investigation into sex and lies, desperate artists and reckless politics, the smothering embrace of gender and ...
Feminism for the 99%
Unaffordable housing, poverty wages, healthcare, climate change, border policing; not the issues you ordinarily hear feminists talking about. But don’t these issues impact the vast majority of wome...
A Planet to Win
All politics are climate politics in the twenty-first century - and this bold book argues for a Green New Deal that confronts both climate change and inequalityThe age of climate gradualism is over...
We Fight Fascists
In 1946 many Jewish soldiers returned to their homes in England imagining that they had fought and defeated the forces of fascism in Europe. Yet in London they found a revived fascist movement insp...
The Authoritarian Personality
What makes a fascist? Are there character traits that make someone more likely to vote for the far right? The Authoritarian Personality, written in the shadow of Fascism and the Holocaust, looked t...

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