Blog post

Taking a Deeper Dive

Books that should be read together.

9 August 2023

Taking a Deeper Dive

As we move further into the summer, it's time to move deeper into your reading. In this list we've paired books that should sit side-by-side on your bookshelves. Reading them together will deepen your understanding of a particular idea or concept, enhancing your reading experience.

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Read Vivek Chibber's extraordinary book on the dynamics and politics of capitalism alongside Isabelle Garo's powerful analysis of Marx's political thought and communist strategies.

 

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Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s endorsement of Samuel Stein’s study of gentrification and real estate says it all: “Capital City places gentrification in a structurally extensive and intensive urban geography of dispossession. All who struggle for the right to the city should read this book, and realize afresh how capitalism saving capitalism from capitalism must provoke our political imagination.”  But what is any understanding of urban geography and cities without Henri Lefebvre? Christian Schmid's study of Lefebvre’s theory of space and of the urban is the perfect theoretical companion to Stein’s work.

 

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As we rebuild our lives in the wake of Covid-19 and face the challenges of ecological disaster, how can the left win a world fit for life? Planet on Fire is an urgent manifesto for a fundamental reimagining of the global economy. The Great Adaptation tells the story of how scientists, governments and corporations have tried to deal with the challenge that climate change poses to capitalism by promoting adaptation to the consequences of climate change, rather than combating its causes. Both these books, when read together, present a new politics capable of tackling environmental breakdown.

 

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In his powerful class analysis of the climate crisis, Matthew T. Huber argues that the carbon-intensive capitalist class must be confronted for producing climate change. Here, we have paired it with Who Will Build the Ark?:Debates on Climate Strategy from 'New Left Review'—a  series of landmark texts first published by New Left Review, bringing together radical left voices including  Nancy Fraser and Robert Pollin (watch an interview with the editors—Benjamin Kunekl and Lola Seaton—here).

Can radical green models generate the social leverage needed to do so? Or, as Mike Davis puts it: Who will build the Ark?

  

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Described by Judith Butler as a "monumental work", Shon Faye's The Transgender Issue has changed the conversation around trans justice and trans rights. Isabelle Lorey's work looks deeper at democracy in the present tense; specifically its borders of "sexism and racism, homo-and transphobia, colonialism and extractivism." Both these books are feminist political theories of and for our time and, when read together, offer total clarity on why we need to build a political system for the liberation of all. 

*please note: The Transgender Issue is not published by Verso outside of North America.

 

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One hundred years after the Russian Revolution the Soviet Union remains the most extraordinary, yet tragic, attempt to create a society beyond capitalism. Yet its history was one that for a long time proved impossible to write.  More than just a simple linear history, The Soviet Century traces all the continuities and ruptures that led from the founding revolution of October 1917 to the final collapse of the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is a master-class in understanding the structures and intricate workings of the Soviet system. We’ve paired this with Kristin Ghodsee’s Red Valkyries: a book that brings a vital feminist perspective to our historical understanding of the Soviet Union, exploring the history of socialist feminism in Eastern Europe more broadly.

 

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After the feminist art collective LASTESIS created their performance "A Rapist in Your Path" in their native Chile, it went viral across the globe, becoming the anthem of the grassroots feminist movements in South America. Set Fear on Fire is their manifesto. Here, we bring this contemporary visionary manifesto into conversation with Feminism or Death: the radical ecofeminist manifesto from Francoise d’Eaubonne, originally published in 1974.

 

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Heralded as a new masterpiece and the most important Brazilian novel of this century, Crooked Plow is a fascinating and gripping novel about the lives of subsistence farmers in the Brazil's poorest region, three generations after the abolition of slavery. Without Fear of Being Happy: Lula, the Workers Party and Brazil —a vital history of The Brazilian Workers Party—brings vital insight into the political conditions that inform this compelling novel. 

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How to Be a Revolutionary, another politically charged novel from our Verso Fiction publishing, connects contemporary Shanghai, late Apartheid-era South Africa, and China during the Great Leap Forward and the Tiananmen uprising. Travellers of the World Revolution: A Global History of the Communist International a book about the global fight for freedomis the ideal companion.

 

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Critically-acclaimed, and much beloved, Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again challenges our assumptions about women’s desire. In today’s crucial moment of renewed attention to violence and power, Katherine Angel brings a much-needed rigorous and nuanced perspective. In a similar vein, What We Don't Talk About is a searing indictment of modern sexual politics. Both books will broaden your understanding of sex, desire, violence and sexual politics.

 

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How do we find out who we are within this digital era? Where do we create the space to explore our identity? How can we come together and create solidarity? The glitch is often dismissed as an error, a faulty overlaying, but, as Legacy Russell shows, liberation can be found within the fissures between gender, technology and the body that it creates. Girl Online is the perfect book to read after Glitch Feminism. Told via the arresting personal narrative of one woman negotiating the (cyber)space between her identities as girl, mother, writer, and commodified online persona, Girl Online is written in a plethora of the online styles, from programming language to the blog/diary, from tweets to lyric prose, taking in selfies, social media, celebrity and Cyberfeminism.

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Tony Wood’s Russia Without Putin is absolutely incisive in its masterful analysis of Putin, Russia, and what lies between the two. It pairs brilliantly with Dissidents among Dissidents: Ideology, Politics and the Left in Post-Soviet Russia by Ilya Budraitskis, one of the country’s most prominent leftist political commentators. Including a preface from Tony Wood, this book looks at how the fall of the USSR and the long dominance of Putin has reshaped Russian politics and culture.

 

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Health Communism is a searing analysis of health and illness under capitalism from hosts of the hit podcast “Death Panel”. Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Artie Vierkant argue for a new global left politics aimed at severing the ties between capital and one of its primary tools: health. Bringing a theoretical perspective, Politics of Immunity lays down a major challenge to the ways in which the immunity of the self and the social are imagined. These books together will change how you think about health, power, capitalism, and the body.

 

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The Frankfurt School are never far from our philosophical minds; these two books together will solidify your understanding of their formidable intellectual contribution to European Marxism more widely. Grand Hotel Abyss combines biography, philosophy, and storytelling to reveal how the Frankfurt thinkers gathered during the rise of fascism, and their continued relevance today. Perry Anderson’s Considerations on Western Marxism has got to be the best intellectual history of European Marxism, focusing particularly on the work of Lukács, Korsch and Gramsci; Adorno, Marcuse and Benjamin; Sartre and Althusser; and Della Volpe and Colletti, together with other figures within Western Marxism from 1920 to 1975.

 

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What if we could do better than the family? This is the question that sits at the heart of Sophie Lewis’s Abolish the Family. Tracing the history of family abolitionist demands, Lewis reminds us of the anti-family politics of radical feminists like Shulamith Firestone and the gay liberationists. There could be no better book to sit alongside this than Michèle Barrett and Mary McIntosh's The Anti-Social Family: a classic feminist work exploring the nuclear family, republished as part of our Feminist Radical Thinkers set.

 

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In Ten Myths About Israel radical Israeli historian Ilan Pappe examines the most contested ideas concerning the origins and identity of the contemporary state of Israel. Not by Omission: The Case of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War—first published in Hebrew in 1975 and now available in English with an introduction by Noam Chomsky—traces the policies and attitudes that led to the 1973 Arab-Israel war. Read together, both books bring a solid and necessary understanding to the history of the region.

 

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The massive uprising following the police killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020by some estimates the largest protests in US historythrust the argument to defund the police to the forefront of international politics. It also made The End of Policing a bestseller and Alex Vitale, its author, a leading figure in the urgent public discussion over police and racial justice. Never before has there been so much support for abolishing the police. What must follow is a conversation about the future of mass incarceration. Captives: How Rikers Island Took New York City Hostage reveals the long history of racial oppression and unaccountable violence in the Rikers Island jail complex. Both these books will solidify your understanding of the oppression and violence lying at the heart of these connected systems, and why we need to put resources into communities themselves.

 

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We live in times of increasing inscrutability. In New Dark Age, James Bridle offers us a warning against the enlightened digital futures we were promised: we are, in fact, looking at an age of complex uncertainty, predictive algorithms, surveillance, and the hollowing out of empathy. Jonathan Crary's work builds on this, dismantling the presumption that social media could be instruments of radical change. Both books are necessary reading as we try to understand this disastrous terminal stage of global capitalism.

 

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What does political agency mean for those who don’t know what to do or can’t be bothered to do it? The Concept of the Social develops a novel account of collective emancipation in which freedom is achieved not through knowledge and action but via doubt and inertia. Imperium: Structures and Affects of Political Bodies brings a vital theoretical perspective: drawing on Spinoza’s political philosophy and especially his two central concepts of multitudo and imperium.

 

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Franny Nudelman’s fascinating book explores the problematic status of sleep for soldiers damaged by the trauma of warfare. Leading on from this, Nadia Abu El Haj’s Combat Trauma: Imaginaries of War and Citizenship in post-9/11 America is a rigorous and incisive study of combat trauma and American militarism. Both books reveal new nightmarish perspectives on militaristic society.

 

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Osip Mandelstam is considered, by many, to be the greatest Russian poet of the 20th century. His personal and political life is graphically portrayed in Ralph Dutli's biography. Once you have finished with that book, it makes sense to move onto the work of Valery Podorogaone of the most important thinkers of his generation. Mimesis is his most famous worktranslated into English for the first time in this book.

 

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Cannibal Capitalism is a brilliant synthesis of Nancy Fraser's many pathbreaking contributions to a Marxian theory of capitalism. In it she charts the voracious appetite of capital, tracking it from crisis point to crisis point, from ecological devastation to the collapse of democracy, from racial violence to the devaluing of care work. Søren Mau is the theorist to read in conversation with Fraser’s work. Building on a critical reconstruction of Karl Marx’s unfinished critique of political economy and a wide range of contemporary Marxist theory, Mute Compulsion sets out to explain how the logic of capital tightens its stranglehold on the life of society by constantly remoulding the material conditions of social reproduction

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David Harvey’s latest book is an indispensable companion to the Grundrisse-widely thought of as Marx’s most challenging text. The Formation of the Economic Thought of Karl Marx: 1843 to Capital is the perfect complementary book: tracing the development of Marx's economic ideas from the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts to the completion of the Grundrisse.

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In After Work, Helen Hester and Nick Srnicek lay out how unpaid work in our homes has come to take up an ever-increasing portion of our liveshow the vacuum of free time has been taken up by vacuuming. Examining the history of the home over the past century, they show how repeated efforts to reduce the burden of this work have faced a variety of barriers, challenges, and reversals. After reading you will certainly have questions around the concept of “productivity”. Kate Soper’s Post-Growth Living is the perfect follow-up: laying out new vision of society, one that decouples prosperity from endless growth.

 

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Americans are in the midst of a world-historic drug binge. Quick Fixes blows away the pharmacological fog to take a sober look at how drugs have shaped American society. Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press examines the CIA’s chilling history with the drug trade.

 

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Liberal antiracism has proven powerless against structural oppression. After reading What Is Antiracism? there will be no doubt in your mind that antiracist movements can only flourish in an anticapitalist future. A natural companion to this book, is the earlier antiracist work of Manning Marable. Beginning by looking back at African-American politics and the fight against racism of the recent past, he argues powerfully for a 'transformationist' strategy, which retains a distinctive black cultural identity but draws together all the poor and exploited in a united struggle against oppression.

 

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Capitalism, by the twenty-first century, has brought us an era of escalating, overlapping crisisecological, political, socialwhich we may not survive. In this brilliant, wide-ranging conversation, political philosophers Nancy Fraser and Rahel Jaeggi identify capitalism as the source of the devastation and examine its in-built tendency to crisis. A next step is, of course, to revisit (or visit for the first time!) Marx’s Political Writings. The edition above brings together all of his essential political and historical writings in one volume.

    Confronting Capitalism
    Why is our society so unequal? Why, despite their small numbers, do the rich dominate policy and politics even in democratic countries? Why is it often difficult for working people to organize arou...
    Communism and Strategy
    If the question of communism is making a comeback today, this renewed interest is often accompanied by an abandonment of any concrete political perspective. Critical philosophies are flourishing an...
    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...
    Henri Lefebvre and the Theory of the Production of Space
    Shortlisted for the Deutscher Memorial Prize 2023This book presents an encompassing, detailed and thorough overview and reconstruction of Lefebvre’s theory of space and of the urban. Henri Lefebvre...
    Planet on Fire
    As we rebuild our lives in the wake of Covid-19 and face the challenges of ecological disaster, how can the left win a world fit for life? Planet on Fire is an urgent manifesto for a fundamental ...
    The Great Adaptation
    The Great Adaptation tells the story of how scientists, governments and corporations have tried to deal with the challenge that climate change poses to capitalism by promoting adaptation to the con...
    Climate Change as Class War
    The climate crisis is not primarily a problem of ‘believing science’ or individual ‘carbon footprints’ – it is a class problem rooted in who owns, controls and profits from material production. As ...
    Who Will Build the Ark?
    In Who Will Build the Ark?, leading radical thinkers debate left alternatives to runaway global heating, capitalist crisis and wider environmental breakdown, clarifying the stakes in today's key di...
    The Transgender Issue
    In this brilliant introduction to trans politics, journalist Shon Faye gives an incisive overview of systemic transphobia and argues that the struggle for trans rights is necessary to any struggle ...
    Democracy in the Political Present
    ‘Presentist democracy is without a people and without nation. Rather than regimes of borders and migration, its borders are sexism and racism, homo- and transphobia, colonialism and extractivism.’I...
    The Soviet Century
    One hundred years after the Russian Revolution the Soviet Union remains the most extraordinary, yet tragic, attempt to create a society beyond capitalism. Yet its history was one that for a long ti...
    Paperback
    Red Valkyries
    Through a series of lively and accessible biographical essays, Red Valkyries explores the history of socialist feminism century Eastern Europe. By examining the revolutionary careers of five promi...
    Set Fear on Fire
    After the feminist art collective LASTESIS created their performance "A Rapist in Your Path" in their native Chile, it went viral across the globe, becoming the anthem of the grassroots feminist mo...
    Feminism or Death

    Feminism or Death

    Originally published in French in 1974, radical feminist Francoise d’Eaubonne surveyed women’s status around the globe and argued that the stakes of feminist struggle was not about equality but abo...
    Crooked Plow

    Crooked Plow

    'I heard our grandmother asking what we were doing.'"Say something!" she demanded, threatening to tear out our tongues. Little did she know that one of us was holding her tongue in her hand.'Deep ...
    Without Fear of Being Happy
    The Brazilian Workers Party is the most important political formation to emerge in Latin America for many years. Under the charismatic leadership of an ex-metalworker and union official, Luis Ináci...
    How to Be a Revolutionary
    Fleeing her moribund marriage in Cape Town, Beth accepts a diplomatic posting to Shanghai. In this anonymous city she hopes to lose herself in books, wine, and solitude, and to dodge whatever pang...
    Travellers of the World Revolution
    The Communist International was the first organised attempt to bring about worldwide revolution and left a lasting mark on 20th-century history. The book offers a new and fascinating account of thi...
    Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again
    Women are in a bind. In the name of consent and empowerment, they must proclaim their desires clearly and confidently. Yet sex researchers suggest that women’s desire is often slow to emerge. And m...
    What We Don't Talk About
    What if we took sex out of the box marked ‘special’, either the worst or best thing that a human person can experience, and considered it within the complexity of reality? In this extraordinary boo...
    Glitch Feminism
    The divide between the digital and the real world no longer exists: we are connected all the time. How do we find out who we are within this digital era? Where do we create the space to explore our...
    Girl Online
    The unwritten contract of the internet, that a user is what is used, extends from the well-examined issue of data privacy and consent to the very selves women are encouraged to create in order to a...
    Russia without Putin
    It is impossible to think of Russia today without thinking of Vladimir Putin. More than any other major national leader, he personifies his country in the eyes of the outside world, and dominates W...
    Dissidents among Dissidents
    Ilya Budraitskis, one of the country’s most prominent leftist political commentators, explores the strange fusion of free-market ideology and postmodern nationalism that now prevails in Russia, and...
    Health Communism
    In this fiery, theoretical tour de force, Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Artie Vierkant offer an overview of life and death under capitalism and argue for a new global left politics aimed at severing th...
    The Politics of Immunity
    Our contemporary political condition is obsessed with immunity. The immunity of bodies and the body politic; personal immunity and herd immunity; how to immunize the social system against breakdown...
    Grand Hotel Abyss
    In 1923, a group of young radical German thinkers and intellectuals came together to at Victoria Alle 7, Frankfurt, determined to explain the workings of the modern world. Among the most prominen...
    Considerations on Western Marxism
    This synoptic essay considers the nature and evolution of the Marxist theory that developed in Western Europe, after the defeat of the proletarian rebellions in the West and the isolation of the Ru...
    Abolish the Family
    What if we could do better than the family?We need to talk about the family. For those who are lucky, families can be filled with love and care, but for many they are sites of pain: from abandonmen...
    The Anti-Social Family
    Despite much talk of its decline, the nuclear family persists as a structure central to contemporary society, a fact to be lamented, according to the ideas of Michèle Barrett and Mary McIntosh. T...
    Ten Myths About Israel
    In this groundbreaking book, published on the fiftieth anniversary of the Occupation, the outspoken and radical Israeli historian Ilan Pappe examines the most contested ideas concerning the origins...
    Not by Omission

    Not by Omission

    In this book, first published in Hebrew in 1975 and now available in English for the first time with an introduction by Noam Chomsky, Amnon Kapeliouk traces the policies and attitudes that led to t...
    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...
    Captives
    Captives combines a thrilling narrative account of Rikers Island’s descent into infamy with a dramatic retelling of the last seventy years of New York and American politics from the vantage point o...
    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...
    Scorched Earth
    Selected as one of LitHub's 38 Favorite Books of 2022Finalist for the 2022 Big Other Book Award for NonfictionIn this uncompromising essay, Jonathan Crary presents the obvious but unsayable reality...
    The Concept of the Social
    What does political agency mean for those who don’t know what to do or can’t be bothered to do it? This book develops a novel account of collective emancipation in which freedom is achieved not t...
    Imperium
    What should we do with the ideals of internationalism, the withering away of state and horizontality? Probably start by thinking seriously about them. That is to say, about their conditions of poss...
    Fighting Sleep
    On April 21, 1971, hundreds of Vietnam veterans fell asleep on the National Mall, wondering whether they would be arrested by daybreak. Veterans had fought the courts for the right to sleep in p...
    Combat Trauma
    Americans have long been asked to support the troops and care for veterans' psychological wounds. Who, though, does this injunction serve?As acclaimed scholar Nadia Abu El-Haj argues here, in the A...
    Osip Mandelstam
    This is the first full-scale biography of Osip Mandelstam to combine an analysis of his poetry with a description of his personal life, from his beginnings as a young intellectual in pre-revolution...
    Mimesis

    Mimesis

    Valery Podoroga was one of the most important thinkers of his generation. Here his most famous work is translated into English for the first time. In it he gives a panorama view of Russian writing,...
    Cannibal Capitalism
    Shortlisted for the Deutscher Memorial Prize 2023Capital is currently cannibalizing every sphere of life-guzzling wealth from nature and racialized populations, sucking up our ability to care for e...
    Hardback
    Mute Compulsion
    Despite insoluble contradictions, intense volatility and fierce resistance, the crisis-ridden capitalism of the 21st century lingers on. To understand capital’s paradoxical expansion and entrenchme...
    A Companion to Marx's Grundrisse
    When leading scholar of Marx, Roman Rosdolsky, first encountered the virtually unknown text of Marx's Grundrisse - his preparatory work for his masterpiece Das Capital - in the 1950s in New York Pu...
    The Formation of the Economic Thought of Karl Marx
    In this republication of the 1971 original, Ernest Mandel traces the development of Marx's economic ideas from the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts to the completion of the Grundrisse. In a ser...
    After Work
    Does it ever feel like you have no free time? You come home after work and instead of finding a space of rest and relaxation, you're confronted by a pile of new tasks to complete – cooking, cleanin...
    Post-Growth Living
    The reality of runaway climate change is inextricably linked with the mass consumerist, capitalist society in which we live. And the cult of endless growth, and endless consumption of cheap disposa...
    Quick Fixes
    This is your nation's history on drugsAmericans are stumbling through a world-historic drug binge. Opiates, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, marijuana, antidepressants, antipsychotics—across the boar...
    Whiteout
    On March 16, 1998, the CIA’s Inspector General, Fred Hitz, finally let?the cat out of the bag in an aside at a Congressional Hearing. Hitz told?the US Reps that the CIA had maintained relationships...
    What Is Antiracism?
    Liberals have been arguing for nearly a century that racism is fundamentally an individual problem of extremist beliefs. Responding to Nazism, thinkers like gay rights pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld and...
    Beyond Black and White
    Many in the US, including Barack Obama, have called for a 'post-racial' politics: yet race still divides the country politically, economically and socially.In this highly acclaimed work, Manning Ma...
    Capitalism
    Capitalism, by the twenty-first century, has brought us an era of escalating, overlapping crisis - ecological, political, social - which we may not survive. In this brilliant, wide-ranging conversa...
    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...

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