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Reading List

Long Hot Summer Reading

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Illustration credit: Stephanie Monohan (IG: shdwbxng)

The long, hot summer refers to the one hundred and fifty-nine race riots that erupted across the United States in 1967. Now, one year after the murder of George Floyd and the global insurrection against racist police violence and racial inequality, the books on this reading list offer critical analyses of white supremacy and tell histories of anti-colonial resistance and movements for liberation across the world.

ALL of our books are 40% off until Wednesday, June 30 at 11:59PM EST.

Need help finding books? Browse some of our reading lists, including Climate Crisis and COVID-19, Emerging Futures, No Walls, No BordersAbolition and Black Struggle, Revolutionary FeminismsBlack Radical Thought: A Verso Bookshelf and Decolonize your bookshelf! Verso Student Reading.
 

AVAILABLE AS A FREE EBOOK UNTIL THE END OF JUNE

Recent years have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression. Among activists, journalists and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. Unfortunately, these reforms will not produce results, either alone or in combination. The core of the problem must be addressed: the nature of modern policing itself.

In the first study of the far right’s role in the climate crisis, White Skin, Black Fuel presents an eye-opening sweep of a novel political constellation, revealing its deep historical roots. Fossil-fuelled technologies were born steeped in racism. No one loved them more passionately than the classical fascists. Now right-wing forces have risen to the surface, some professing to have the solution—closing borders to save the nation as the climate breaks down.

Planet on Fire is an urgent manifesto for a fundamental reimagining of the global economy. It offers a clear and practical road map for a future that is democratic and sustainable by design. Laurie Laybourn-Langton and Mathew Lawrence argue that it is not enough merely to spend our way out of the crisis; we must also rapidly reshape the economy to create a new way of life that can foster a healthy and flourishing environment for all.

An exemplary work of political, economic, and historical analysis, powerfully introduced by Angela Davis.

A remarkable book on the international operations of racism and the global meaning of Black Power.

How to Be an Anticapitalist is an urgent and powerful argument for socialism, and a unparalleled guide to help us get there. Another world is possible.

Breaking Things at Work is an innovative rethinking of labour and machines, leaping from textile mills to algorithms, from existentially threatened knife cutters of rural Germany to surveillance-evading truckers driving across the continental United States. Mueller argues that the future stability and empowerment of working-class movements will depend on subverting these technologies and preventing their spread wherever possible.

In this lyrical manifesto, noted climate scholar (and saboteur of SUV tires and coal mines) Andreas Malm makes an impassioned call for the climate movement to escalate its tactics in the face of ecological collapse. We need, he argues, to force fossil fuel extraction to stop—with our actions, with our bodies, and by defusing and destroying its tools. We need, in short, to start blowing up some oil pipelines.

A provocative, elegantly written analysis of female desire, consent, and sexuality in the age of MeToo.

A major new work of feminism from the MacArthur Award–winning economist.

For something so often described as essential, political organisation remains a surprisingly under-theorised field. Nunes redefines the terms of organisational theory, and argues that organisation must be understood as always supposing a diverse ecology of different initiatives and organisational forms.

The story of how enslaved women struggled for freedom in the West Indies.

Capital Is Dead offers not only the theoretical tools to analyze this new world, but ways to change it. 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.

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 passive practice that emanates from a calm region of the soul, or as an individualist ethical relation to existing forms of power. But, in fact, nonviolence is an ethical position found in the midst of the political field. 

The ubiquitous nature and political attraction of the concept of order has to be understood in conjunction with the idea of police. Since its first publication, this book has been one of the most powerful and wide-ranging critiques of the police power.

Part intellectual history, part critical theory, The Last Man Takes LSD challenges the way we think about both Michel Foucault and modern progressive politics.

In this groundbreaking book, Emma Dowling charts the multi-faceted nature of care in the modern world, from the mantras of self-care and what they tell us about our anxieties, to the state of the social care system. She examines the relations of power that play profitability and care off in against one another in a myriad of ways, exposing the devastating impact of financialisation and austerity.

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.

How migrants became the scapegoats of contemporary mainstream politics.

In this brilliant and kaleidoscopic look at the emerging feminist international, Verónica Gago uses the women’s strike as both a concept and a collective experience. At once a gripping political analysis and a theoretically charged manifesto, Feminist International draws on the author’s rich experience with radical movements to enter into ongoing debates in feminist and Marxist theory: from social reproduction and domestic work to the intertwining of financial and gender violence, as well as controversies surrounding the neo-extractivist model of development, the possibilities and limits of left populism, and the ever-vexed nexus of gender-race-class.

One of America’s most historic political trials is undoubtedly that of Angela Davis. Opening with a letter from James Baldwin to Davis, and including contributions from numerous radicals such as Black Panthers George Jackson, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins, this book is not only an account of Davis’s incarceration and the struggles surrounding it, but also perhaps the most comprehensive and thorough analysis of the prison system of the United States.

This book is about mutual aid: why it is so important, what it looks like, and how to do it. It provides a grassroots theory of mutual aid, describes how mutual aid is a crucial part of powerful movements for social justice, and offers concrete tools for organizing, such as how to work in groups, how to foster a collective decision-making process, how to prevent and address conflict, and how to deal with burnout.  

What does the COVID 19 tell us about the climate breakdown, and what should we do about it?

The Care Manifesto puts forth a vision for a truly caring world. The authors want to reimagine the role of care in our everyday lives, making it the organising principle in every dimension and at every scale of life. We are all dependent on each other, and only by nurturing these interdependencies can we cultivate a world in which each and every one of us can not only live but thrive.

In The Corona Crash, leading economics commentator Grace Blakeley theorises about the epoch-making changes that the coronavirus brings in its wake.

This anthology, global in scope, presents voices of dissent from every era of human history: speeches and pamphlets, poems and songs, plays and manifestos. Every age has its iconoclasts, and yet the greatest among them build on the words and actions of their forerunners. The Verso Book of Dissent should be in the arsenal of every rebel who understands that words and ideas are the ultimate weapons.

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

A Planet to Win explores the political potential and concrete first steps of a Green New Deal. It calls for dismantling the fossil fuel industry, building beautiful landscapes of renewable energy, and guaranteeing climate-friendly work, no-carbon housing, and free public transit. And it shows how a Green New Deal in the United States can strengthen climate justice movements worldwide.

Jane McAlevey argues that labor can be revived, but only if the movement acknowledges its mistakes and fully commits to deep organizing, participatory education, militancy, and an approach to workers and their communities that more resembles the campaigns of the 1930s—in short, social movement unionism that involves raising workers’ expectations (while raising hell).

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.

In Automation and the Future of Work, Aaron Benanav uncovers the structural economic trends that will shape our working lives far into the future. What social movements, he asks, are required to propel us into post-scarcity, if technological innovation alone can’t deliver it? In response to calls for a universal basic income that would maintain a growing army of redundant workers, he offers a counter-proposal.

With contributions from Greg Burris, Jordan T. Camp, Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Avery F. Gordon, Stefano Harney, Christina Heatherton, Robin D.G. Kelley, George Lipsitz, Fred Moten, Paul Ortiz, Steven Osuna, Kwame M. Phillips, Shana L. Redmond, Cedric J. Robinson, Elizabeth P. Robinson, Nikhil Pal Singh, Damien M. Sojoyner, Darryl C. Thomas, and Françoise Vergès.

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.

In Futures of Socialism, Sam Gindin and James Meadway reassess socialist strategy after the coronavirus; Dalia Gebrial and Siân Errington debate austerity and precarity; Joshua Virasami and Simukai Chigudu explore anti-racism and the legacy of Empire; and Leo Panitch and Momentum co-founder James Schneider probe the limits of parliamentary socialism. Chris Saltmarsh assesses the prospects for an eco-socialist Green New Deal and Cat Hobbs argues for the ongoing centrality of public ownership to socialist policy.

Global in scope, The Verso Book of Feminism shows the breadth of feminist protest and of feminist thinking, moving through the female poets of China’s Tang Dynasty to accounts of indigenous women in the Caribbean resisting Columbus’s expedition, British suffragists militating for the vote to the revolutionary pétroleuses of the 1848 Paris Commune, the first-century Trung sisters who fought for the independence of Nam Viet to women in 1980s Botswana fighting for equal protection under the law, from the erotica of the sixth century and the ninteenth century to radical queer politics in the twentieth and twenty-first.

Why every worker should join a trade union.

In a series of searching, propulsive essays, Mike Davis explores Marx’s inquiries into two key questions of our time: Who can lead a revolutionary transformation of society? And what is the cause—and solution—of the planetary environmental crisis?

Adding historical, literary, and current political context to the discussion of migration today, Washington tells the history of asylum law and practice through ages to the present day. Packed with information and reflection, The Dispossessed is more than a human portrait of those who cross borders—it is an urgent and persuasive case for sharing the country we call home.

The first time Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres met the journalist Nina Lakhani, Cáceres said, ‘The army has an assassination list with my name at the top. I want to live, but in this country there is total impunity. When they want to kill me, they will do it.’ In 2015, Cáceres won the Goldman Prize, the world’s most prestigious environmental award, for leading a campaign to stop construction of an internationally funded hydroelectric dam on a river sacred to her Lenca people. Less than a year later she was dead.

Glitch Feminism is a vital new chapter in cyberfeminism, one that explores the relationship between gender, technology and identity. In an urgent manifesto, Russell reveals the many ways that the glitch performs and transforms: how it refuses, throws shade, ghosts, encrypt, mobilises and survives.

In this compelling new book, Noam Chomsky, the world’s leading public intellectual, and Robert Pollin, a renowned progressive economist, map out the catastrophic consequences of unchecked climate change—and present a realistic blueprint for change: the Green New Deal.

Through interviews with key revolutionary scholars, Bhandar and Ziadah present a thorough discussion of how anti-racist, anti-capitalist feminisms are crucial to building effective political coalitions. Collectively, these interviews with leading scholars including Angela Y. Davis, Silvia Federici, and many others, trace the ways in which black, indigenous, post-colonial and Marxian feminisms have created new ways of seeing, new theoretical frameworks for analysing political problems, and new ways of relating to one another.

Feminist City is an ongoing experiment in living differently, living better, and living more justly in an urban world.

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? Taking as its inspiration the new wave of feminist militancy that has erupted globally, this manifesto makes a simple but powerful case: feminism shouldn’t start—or stop—with the drive to have women represented at the top of their professions. It must focus on those at the bottom, and fight for the world they deserve. And that means targeting capitalism. Feminism must be anticapitalist, eco-socialist and antiracist.

“Priyamvada Gopal is an astonishing writer and thinker, one who is fearless in how she uses history to explain where we are now. Her work is essential to showing how empire and colonialism pervades every nook and cranny of the British establishment today and why we should all continue to speak truth to power, like she does every damn day.” – Nikesh Shukla, editor of The Good Immigrant

Dynamic and beloved American radical, labor leader, and socialist Eugene Victor Debs led the Socialist Party to federal and state office across the United States by the 1920s. Imprisoned for speaking out against World War I, Debs ran for president from prison on the Socialist Party ticket, receiving over 1 million votes. Debs’s life is a story of labor battles in industrializing America, of a fighting socialist politics grown directly out of the Midwest heartland, and of a distinctly American vision of socialism.

Rosa Luxemburg is one of the most controversial and important figures in the development of Marxism. In many respects her role is unique; she was at the same time one of the founders of modern communism and one of its severest critics. With the exception of Lenin, she is perhaps the only Marxist of this century who bridges the profound divide of the Bolshevik Revolution; both communists and anti-communists still look to her work and life as a source of inspiration. In this classic biography J.P. Nettl provides an extraordinary portrait of one of the leading twentieth century revolutionaries and political thinkers.

On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, the Chinese government arrested five feminist activists and jailed them for thirty-seven days. The Feminist Five became a global cause célèbre, with Hillary Clinton speaking out on their behalf and activists inundating social media with #FreetheFive messages. But the Five are only symbols of a much larger feminist movement of civil rights lawyers, labor activists, performance artists, and online warriors prompting an unprecedented awakening among China’s educated, urban women. In Betraying Big Brother, journalist and scholar Leta Hong Fincher argues that the popular, broad-based movement poses the greatest challenge to China’s authoritarian regime today.

Crowds and Party channels the energies of the riotous crowds who took to the streets in the past five years into an argument for the political party. Dean argues that previous discussions of the party have missed its affective dimensions, the way it operates as a knot of unconscious processes and binds people together. Dean shows how we can see the party as an organisation that can reinvigorate political practice.

Rousing manifesto on the city and the commons from the acclaimed theorist.

Police: A Field Guide is an illustrated handbook to the methods, mythologies, and history that animate today’s police. It is a survival manual for encounters with cops and police logic, whether it arrives in the shape of officer friendly, Tasers, curfews, non-compliance, or reformist discourses about so-called bad apples.

Drawing on more than 120 interviews and illustrated with striking images from guerrilla movement publications, the book evokes the feeling of growing up alien in a society rendered in black and white, and recalls the intricate memories and meanings of the Asian American movement. Serve the People paints a panoramic landscape of a radical time, and is destined to become the definitive history of the making of Asian America.

A longtime movement insider's powerful account of the origins of today's protest movements and what they can achieve now.

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 established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It’s a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over—to deadly effect.

"In its sweep, rigor, and elegance, Riot. Strike. Riot is pleasurable and provocative, worthy of the urgent debates it should inspire.” – Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop

Award-winning poet Joshua Clover theorizes the riot as the form of the coming insurrection.

In Playing the Whore, sex workers' demands, too long relegated to the margins, take center stage: sex work is work, and sex workers' rights are human rights.

For twenty-five years, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World has been an essential primer on the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century history of women’s movements in Asia and the Middle East. In this engaging and well-researched survey, Kumari Jayawardena presents feminism as it originated in the Third World, erupting from the specific struggles of women fighting against colonial power, for education or the vote, for safety, and against poverty and inequality.

“This book is hard to put down and contains a challenge that is impossible to turn away from: We could create a better world—peaceful, egalitarian, even joyful—if we are willing to learn from Red Rosa.” – Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Living with a Wild God

In the history of European revolutions, the barricade stands as a glorious emblem. Its symbolic importance arises principally from the barricades of Eric Hazan’s native Paris, where they were instrumental in the revolts of the nineteenth century, helping to shape the political life of a continent. Hazan traces the many stages in the barricade’s evolution, from the Wars of Religion through to the Paris Commune, drawing on the work of thinkers throughout the periods examined to illustrate and bring to life the violent practicalities of revolutionary uprising.

How has capitalism devastated the planet—and what can we do about it?

FREE EBOOKS:

The controversy around alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party was unprecedented in its protracted ferocity. It contributed to Labour’s electoral defeat in 2019 and tarnished the reputation of the movement that propelled Jeremy Corbyn to Party leader. The EHRC investigated these allegations and, in September 2020, delivered its report.

An urgent, free ebook in the age of environmental breakdown. Contributors include Adrienne Buller, Pia Eberhardt, Fabian Flues, Dalia Gebrial, Antonia Jennings, Harpreet Kaur, Laurie Laybourn-Langton, Mathew Lawrence, Cecilia Olivet, Julia Steinberger and Olúfémi Táíwò.

In this special Verso Report, developed in conjunction with Autonomy, some of the most important left-wing economists and policy makers at work today outline the new economic ideas that will shape the direction of the left in the years to come.

In this collection of new and previously published essays, activists and scholars from across the socialist left seek to grapple with politics in the wake of the election of Donald Trump and the surprising popularity of Bernie Sanders's primary campaign in 2016, as well as the failure of center-left parties across the world to halt the ascent of right-wing populism.