News & Reviews


Fifth Estate # 350, Fall, 1997

Several new books of interest have recently come our way. We only have space to mention them in this issue, but hope to review them in the near future.

A new edition of ‘occasional FE contributor Richard Drinnon’s Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating & Empire-Building is once again available, in a new edition from the University of Oklahoma Press. We have recommended Drinnon’s book for years; it is an inspired, encyclopedic counter-history of U.S. colonial-settler culture, connecting the massacres from colonial Massachusetts to My Lai, and the imperial rationales that justified them.

Like Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, Frederick W. Turner’s Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit of the Wilderness, and a small handful of other titles, Drinnon’s book is required reading for anyone wanting to understand the dialectic of conquest on this continent.

AK Press has just published Agustin Guillamon’s The Friends of Durruti Group: 1937-1939, translated by Paul Sharkey. This very handsome addition includes plates showing the front pages of the group’s newspaper El Amigo del Pueblo. It is available from AK Press, PO Box 40682, San Francisco CA 941400682 for $9.95. Ask for their extensive catalog of anarchist titles.

Graham Purchase, whose fine essay, “Kropotkin’s Metaphysics of Nature,” appeared in the Late Summer 1991 FE (available for $2 from the FE bookstore), has published a book on Kropotkin, Evolution & Revolution: An Interpretation of the Life and Thought of Peter Kropotkin (Jura Books). Chapters include “Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution” (the title of Kropotkin’s most famous work), “Kropotkin’s Theory of Communal R/Evolution,” and the essay published in the FE. It is. available from Jura Books, 110 Crystal Street, Petersham NSW 2049, Australia, though we don’t seem to have any price for it

Ken Knabb, translator and editor of the Situationist International Anthology, has published a three-part, 408-page omnibus collection, laying out his views on revolution in a section entitled “The Joy of Revolution”; adding his memoirs, “Confessions of a Mild-Mannered Enemy of the State”; and a third section in which he anthologizes all of his previous publications—flyers and essays and even the entire text of his book on Kenneth Rexroth:

We find plenty in here with which to disagree, but Knabb can be appealing, he is a gentle and generous memoirist, and his book makes an interesting read. It is available from the Bureau of Public Secrets, POB 1044, Berkeley CA 94701 for $15 (checks payable to Ken Knabb).

Dead Trees Earth First! has printed the 1990 FE essay, “Stopping the Industrial Hydra: Revolution Against the Megamachine,” which takes the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill as a starting point to explicate industrial capitalism and to pose a more comprehensive radical opposition to it.

What makes this reprint particularly useful is the addition of sections and comments from an activist at South Downs EF! in the UK. The additions are admirable, and bring more information to bear on the long-term effects of oil on affected birds, on the problem of regularly spilled motor oil and its highly polluting “recycled” use in space heaters in Britain, and other related issues.

There is a stunning essay as well, “Never Trust a Techno-Fix!” which lays bare the horrors of the modern car economy and its consequences. The issue with the original FE article can be obtained through our bookservice for $2. There are other articles in that issue we’d like to get into people’s hands, but the additions are so good in this pamphlet that if you have to choose between them, buy the EF! piece for 80 pence.

A revised version of the essay will be printed in David Watson’s forthcoming collection, Against the Megamachine, but the EF! pamphlet will still be a valuable document in its own right. Dead Trees EF! has other publications and can be reached c/o South Downs EF!, Prior House, Tilbury Place, Brighton, E. Sussex BN1 6DA UK.

Congratulations to Black Badger, “the weasley zine of reviews and commentary,” for a thoughtful and uncompromising inaugural issue. Articles include an editorial debunking the cop demand for more deadly weaponry based on their contention they are outgunned by crooks. According to the mag’s figures, 80 percent of police fatalities result from police being killed with their own weapons and less than ten have died at the hands of criminals with assault weapons in the last decade.

A commentary on the Tao Te Ching by Tundra Wind, makes clear the distinction between the philosophy of taoism and religious taoism. The former is a fitting companion to both primitivism and anarchism as it rejects the complex for the simple, and authority for the self-guided.

A challenging article by a bisexual revolutionary asks “where are the anarchists and autonomen in the queer community?” Also, anarchist prisoner Avi Naftal, who is about to be released, describes an Arizona prison lock-down and a companion piece by a member of his support group tells of a visit to the cruel place where he’s spent the last 15 years.

There are numerous good zine and book reviews including one which takes on Murray Bookchin’s blustering Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism, providing another nail in the coffin of Bookchinism. Black Badger wants submissions and subscriptions; sample copy from P.O. Box [number missing in original] Berkeley CA 94701.

The FE receives several manuscripts, 1 magazines, journals, books, and small zines each day. Being understaffed, we simply cannot mention or even acknowledge receiving them all. It does all get looked at, and may sometimes be mentioned in the paper.

Material we receive is sometimes given away in our bookstore or goes to a reading and lending library and bookstore at the local anarchist space, the Trumbull Theater or their books for prisoners program, so it is being read. Some materials also find their way to the University of Michigan Labadie Library, which houses an enormous archive of radical and revolutionary literature and correspondence.

The possibility of mention/review may be more likely at Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed (C.A.L. Press, POB 1446, Columbia MO 65205-1446, single copies $6, checks to C.A.L.).

Editor Jason McQuinn seems to have boundless energy; he’s produced a recent issue of his journal and an equally handsome issue of The Alternative Press Review. People should send him their zines and check his publications for conscientious reviews of what he receives.

The Meltzer Press has announced publication of its first title, Sentenced to Death under Franco, by Juan Busquets Verges, translated from the Spanish by Paul Sharkey. Busquets Verges was a 21-year-old CNT activist who fought with anarchist rural guerrilla groups in Catalonia until he was arrested and tried in 1949, sentenced to death and then reprieved. He tells the story of his next twenty years in prison.

After being released in 1969 he describes his involvement in the Associación de Presos Políticos del Franquismo en Francia (Association of Political Prisoners of Francoism in France). This spiral-bound book is available for £12.50 from P.O. Box 35, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 2UX, England.