Reading list

Bestsellers of 2020

The bestselling books of 2020, including Vivian Gornick, Adorno, Angela Davis, Mike Davis, and Judith Butler.

Verso Books12 August 2020

Bestsellers of 2020

Here are our bestselling titles from the year so far including Alex Vitale on police abolition, Judith Butler on the philosophy of nonviolence, Juno Mac and Molly Smith on sex workers' rights, and McKenzie Wark on class politics and technology.

For our 50th anniversary we have 50% off all our Book Club memberships and 40% off ALL BOOKS! If you do sign up for our book club then you will get 50% off everything on our site for as long as you are a member.
 

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Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Alex Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve.

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Unaffordable housing, poverty wages, inadequate healthcare, border policing, climate change—these are not what you ordinarily hear feminists talking about. But aren’t they the biggest issues for the vast majority of women around the globe?

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Since the book was written, the carceral system in the US has seen unprecedented growth, with more of America’s black population behind bars than ever before. The scathing analysis of the role of prison and the policing of black populations offered by Davis and her comrades in this astonishing volume remains as pertinent today as the day it was first published.

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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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Considering nonviolence as an ethical problem within a political philosophy requires a critique of individualism as well as an understanding of the psychosocial dimensions of violence. Butler draws upon Foucault, Fanon, Freud, and Benjamin to consider how the interdiction against violence fails to include lives regarded as ungrievable. 

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In Revolting Prostitutes, sex workers Juno Mac and Molly Smith bring a fresh perspective to questions that have long been contentious. Speaking from a growing global sex worker rights movement, and situating their argument firmly within wider questions of migration, work, feminism, and resistance to white supremacy, they make clear that anyone committed to working towards justice and freedom should be in support of the sex worker rights movement.

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Now back in print after its initial publication in 1977 and with a new introduction by the author, The Romance of American Communism is a landmark work of new journalism, profiling American Communist Party members and fellow travelers as they joined the Party, lived within its orbit, and left in disillusionment and disappointment as Stalin’s crimes became public.

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Written between 1944 and 1947, Minima Moralia is a collection of rich, lucid aphorisms and essays about life in modern capitalist society. Adorno casts his penetrating eye across society in mid-century America and finds a life deformed by capitalism. This is Adorno's theoretical and literary masterpiece and a classic of twentieth-century thought.

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Mike Davis and Jon Wiener provide the first comprehensive movement history of L.A. in the sixties, drawing on extensive archival research and dozens of interviews with principal figures, as well as the authors’ storied personal histories as activists. Following on from Davis’s awardwinning L.A. history, City of QuartzSet the Night on Fire is a historical tour de force, delivered in scintillating and fiercely beautiful prose.

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Priyamvada Gopal examines a century of dissent on the question of empire and shows how British critics of empire were influenced by rebellions and resistance in the colonies, from the West Indies and East Africa to Egypt and India. In addition, a pivotal role in fomenting resistance was played by anticolonial campaigners based in London, right at the heart of empire.

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In this landmark collection spanning three centuries and four waves of feminist activism and writing, Burn It Down! is a testament to what is possible when women are driven to the edge. The manifesto—raging and wanting, quarreling and provoking—has always played a central role in feminism, and it’s the angry, brash feminism we need now.

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In Bigger than Bernie, activist writers Meagan Day and Micah Uetricht give us an intimate map of this emerging movement to remake American politics top to bottom, profiling the grassroots organizers who are building something bigger, and more ambitious, than the career of any one candidate. As participants themselves, Day and Uetricht provide a serious analysis of the prospects for long-term change, offering a strategy for making “political revolution” more than just a campaign slogan. 

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In this radical and visionary new book, McKenzie Wark argues that information has empowered a new kind of ruling class. Through the ownership and control of information, this emergent class dominates not only labour but capital as traditionally understood as well.

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Females is Andrea Long Chu’s genre-defying investigation into sex and lies, desperate artists and reckless politics, the smothering embrace of gender and the punishing force of desire.

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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. 

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Dean offers a theory of the comrade. Comrades are equals on the same side of a political struggle. Voluntarily coming together in the struggle for justice, their relationship is characterized by discipline, joy, courage, and enthusiasm. 

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Jeremy Corbyn’s rapid ascent to the leadership of the Labour Party, driven by a groundswell of popular support particularly among the young, was met at the time by a baffled media. Just where did Jeremy Corbyn come from? In Searching for Socialism, Leo Panitch and Colin Leys argue that it is only by understanding Corbyn's roots in the Bennite Labour New Left’s long struggle to transcend the limits of ‘parliamentary socialism’ and democratise the party, as a precondition for democratising the state, can you understand his surge to become leader of the party.

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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. Rather than a final destination, such a society merely heralds the real beginning of history.

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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. 

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On Ideology charts Althusser’s critique of the theoretical system unveiled in his own major works, and his developing practice of philosophy as a “revolutionary weapon.”

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Second Wave feminism emerged as a struggle for women’s liberation and took its place alongside other radical movements. But feminism’s subsequent immersion in identity politics coincided with a decline in its utopian energies and the rise of neoliberalism. Now, foreseeing a revival in the movement, Fraser argues for a reinvigorated feminist radicalism able to address the global economic crisis.

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The System of Objects is a tour de force—a theoretical letter-in-a-bottle tossed into the ocean in 1968, which brilliantly communicates to us all the live ideas of the day—offering a cultural critique of the commodity in consumer society.

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Originally published in 1974, Kojin Karatani’s Marx: Towards the Centre of Possibility has been among his most enduring and pioneering works in critical theory. Written at a time when the political sequences of the New Left had collapsed into crisis and violence, with widespread political exhaustion for the competing sectarian visions of Marxism from 1968, Karatani’s Marx laid the groundwork for a new reading, unfamiliar to the existing Marxist discourse in Japan at the time.

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Capital City explains the role of planners in the real estate state, as well as the remarkable power of planning to reclaim urban life.

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In his brilliant new work, 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.

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NOT AVAILABLE IN NORTH AMERICA

Bringing the latest ecological research together with histories of colonialism, indigenous struggles, slave revolts, and other rebellions and uprisings, Patel and Moore demonstrate that throughout history crises have always prompted fresh strategies to make the world cheap and safe for capitalism. 

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This book is a riveting new history of the radical politics that drove a unique insurgency that emerged from the crucible of 1968. Based on extensive archival research, One Man’s Terrorist explores the relationship between the IRA, a clandestine army described as ‘one of the most ruthless and capable insurgent forces in modern history’, and the political movement that developed alongside it to challenge British rule. 

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...
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...
If They Come in the Morning
The trial of Angela Davis is remembered as one of America's most historic political trials, and no one can tell the story better than Davis herself. Opening with a letter from James Baldwin to Ange...
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...
The Force of Nonviolence
Judith Butler’s new book shows how an ethic of nonviolence must be connected to a broader political struggle for social equality. Further, it argues that nonviolence is often misunderstood as a pas...
Revolting Prostitutes
How the law harms sex workers - and what they want insteadDo you have to endorse prostitution in order to support sex worker rights? Should clients be criminalized, and can the police deliver justi...
The Romance of American Communism
“Before I knew that I was Jewish or a girl I knew that I was a member of the working class.” So begins Vivian Gornick’s exploration of how the world of socialists, communists, and progressives in t...
Paperback
Minima Moralia

Minima Moralia

Written between 1944 and 1947, Minima Moralia is a collection of rich, lucid aphorisms and essays about life in modern capitalist society. Adorno casts his penetrating eye across society in mid-cen...
Set the Night on Fire
Histories of the US sixties invariably focus on New York City, but Los Angeles was an epicenter of that decade’s political and social earthquake. L.A. was a launchpad for Black Power—where Malcolm ...
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...
Burn It Down!
Burn It Down! is a testament to what is possible when women are driven to the edge. Collecting over seventy-five manifestos from around the world, Burn It Down! is a rallying cry and a call to acti...
Bigger Than Bernie
The political ambitions of the movement behind Bernie Sanders have never been limited to winning the White House. Since Bernie first entered the presidential primaries in 2016, his supporters have ...
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...
Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche
Henri Lefebvre saw Marx as an ‘unavoidable, necessary, but insufficient starting point’, and always insisted on the importance of Hegel to understanding Marx. Metaphilosophy also suggested the sign...
The Origin of Capitalism
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, im...
Comrade
In the twentieth-century millions of people across the globe addressed each other as “comrade”. Now, it’s more common to hear talk of “allies” on the left than it is of comrades. In Comrade, Jodi D...
Searching for Socialism
Jeremy Corbyn’s rapid ascent to the leadership of the Labour Party, driven by a groundswell of popular support particularly among the young, was met at the time by a baffled media. Just where did J...
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 ...
A Companion To Marx's Capital
In recent years, we have witnessed a surge of interest in Marx’s work in the effort to understand the origins of our current predicament. For nearly forty years, David Harvey has written and lectur...
On Ideology

On Ideology

The publication of For Marx and Reading Capital established Louis Althusser as one of the most influential figures in the Western Marxist tradition. On Ideology charts Althusser’s critique of the t...
Fortunes of Feminism
Second Wave feminism emerged as a struggle for women’s liberation and took its place alongside other radical movements. But feminism’s subsequent immersion in identity politics coincided with a dec...
The System of Objects

The System of Objects

The System of Objects is a tour de force—a theoretical letter-in-a-bottle tossed into the ocean in 1968, which brilliantly communicates to us all the live ideas of the day—offering a cultural criti...
Marx: Towards the Centre of Possibility
Originally published in 1974, Kojin Karatani’s Marx: Towards the Centre of Possibility has been among his most enduring and pioneering works in critical theory. Written at a time when the political...
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...
New Dark Age
From the highly acclaimed author of WAYS OF BEING. We live in times of increasing inscrutability. Our news feeds are filled with unverified, unverifiable speculation, much of it automatically gener...
A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things
Nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives: these are the seven things that have made our world and will shape its future. In making these things cheap, modern commerce has transformed, gov...
Paperback
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...

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