Class War

Class War:A Literary History

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A bold new history of the global class war

A thrilling and vivid work of history, Class War weaves together literature and politics to chart the making and unmaking of social class through revolutionary combat. In a narrative that spans the globe and more than two centuries of history, Mark Steven traces the history of class war from the Haitian Revolution to Black Lives Matter.

Surveying the literature of revolution, from the poetry of Shelley and Byron to the novels of Émile Zola and Jack London, exploring the writings of Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, and Assata Shakur, Class War reveals the interplay between military action and the politics of class, showing how solidarity flourishes in times of conflict. Written with verve and ranging across diverse historical settings, Class War traverses industrial battles, guerrilla insurgencies, and anticolonial resistance, as well as large-scale combat operations waged against capitalism’s regimes and its interstate system.

In our age of economic crisis, ecological catastrophe, and planetary unrest, Steven tells the stories of those whose actions will help guide future militants toward a revolutionary horizon.

Reviews

  • A survey of the literature of revolution, Mark Steven's history of global class war considers work by writers from Byron to Assata Shakur. It feels more crucial than ever to study the work of writers who practiced solidarity, and this book promises to be a vital contribution to the revolutionary canon.

    Most Anticipated Books of 2023Lit Hub
  • Class war is everywhere and in every era. And yet it is not in all places and times the same; it is the stuff of history, and history is what changes. In any regard it is war, and there will be no chance of winning if we do not reckon carefully with its transformations into the present and along the branching paths of the future. It is this movement, a real movement, that Mark Steven sets out to capture, making use of literature's necessary capacity for figuring both the broadest and most delicate social formations in motion. Here he offers a crystallography of veiled relations; there he summons the most explicit jeremiads. Louverture to LeGuin, this book is a wonder in its reach and attention, breathing vitality into core concepts while outmaneuvering the staid orthodoxies hobbling all too much class discourse in the 21st century. Like all the best history: a way forward.

    Joshua Clover, author of Riot. Strike. Riot
  • Beautifully written and conceived, Class War is a history as absorbing as any nineteenth-century novel. Part literary criticism, part political theory, part polemic, it is also an act of recovery; Steven has written a necessary book.

    Anahid Nersessian, author of Keats's Odes: A Lover’s Discourse