All Reviews

Dear Führer...

Henrik Eberle (ed.), Letters to Hitler

reviewed by Belinda Webb-Blofeld

This collection of letters to Hitler is neatly organised into three sections – 1924-32, 1933-38, and 1938-45. Overall, the collection highlights the eerily fanatic following Hitler achieved, particularly from young men. Few women wrote to the Führer during the first period. That Hitler became so adored by these young men signifies the crisis of masculinity that contaminated the nation following the devastation of World War I. But that is not all – for Hitler’s followers also hankered... [read more]

The Hipster Myth

Jake Kinzey, The Sacred and the Profane: An Investigation of Hipsters

reviewed by Sebastian Truskolaski

Jake Kinzey’s book-length essay The Sacred and the Profane is the latest offering in a slew of recent titles concerned with an elusive cultural phenomenon – the hipster. The blurb at the back of the book lays out the task ahead: to answer questions like ‘Why don’t hipsters want to be called hipsters?’ and ‘Why do they act like they are different when they are just like all the other hipsters?’ Apparently, ‘If you can’t stand hipsters, are a hipster, or don’t know what a... [read more]

A Second-Rate Justice

David Renton, Struck Out: Why Employment Tribunals Fail Workers and What Can be Done

reviewed by Simon Behrman

Since the economic crisis hit in 2007 unemployment in the UK has risen by over a million. This has been accompanied by the coalition government’s threat to further deregulate employment law so as to make it easier to fire workers. Now, more than ever, workers are in need of every bit of protection available to them. For most people this includes the right of access to Employment Tribunals, which have the power to hold employers to account for unfair dismissals, discrimination at work and... [read more]

Sketching Theory

Terry Eagleton, The Event of Literature

reviewed by David Winters

‘Literary theory,’ the historian Gerald Graff has remarked, ‘is what is generated when some aspect of literature … ceases to be a given and becomes a question to be argued in a generalised way.’ Graff’s definition might look like a platitude, but its prosaicness is its strength. It’s surely the case, as Graff implies, that any systematic account of literature is always already ‘theoretical.’ With this in mind, theory should be understood less as a phase in the history of... [read more]

Cottage Industry

David Berry (ed.), Revisiting the Frankfurt School: Essays on Culture, Media and Theory

reviewed by Andy Murray

There are few categories in the history of Marxism as indeterminate as that of ‘Frankfurt School’. Since this term came into common parlance in the 1960s to refer to the associates of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, it has often been used simply to refer to Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin. These two have become the subject of an academic specialisation that produces a massive output of publications and symposia, a cottage industry its own right. The bright light... [read more]

The Next Distraction

Paul Virilio, The Great Accelerator

reviewed by Paul Ennis

This short little book, coming in at less than a hundred pages, is perhaps Paul Virilio’s most compact expression of ‘dromological’ reasoning to date (dromology being the logic of speed). The French cultural theorist is best known for his writings on technology and visual media, but the battlefield he addresses in The Great Accelerator is vaster. It is now a religious, planetary, and cosmological warzone. He has been building toward a universal statement on the state of our planet many... [read more]

Quite Ordinary Men

David Leeson, The Black and Tans: British Police and Auxiliaries in the Irish War of Independence, 1920-21

reviewed by John Newsinger

Early reviews - including one particularly scathing piece in History Ireland magazine - portrayed DM Leeson’s new book as yet another revisionist work, re-writing Irish history for the benefit of the British and on this occasion, actually, rehabilitating one of the most hated British exports to Ireland: the Black and Tans. In some quarters this has led to it being welcomed, in others condemned. In fact, this is a serious misreading of what is a well-researched and thoughtful study that... [read more]

The God That Failed

Simon Critchley, The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology

reviewed by Benjamin Noys

The current obsession with religion in contemporary theory is hard to miss – what had seemed a secular enterprise has turned out more books concerning Saint Paul than the average theology faculty. Simon Critchley’s new take on religion is, like many of these efforts, also an attempt, or as he prefers experiment, in ‘political theology’. At the heart of the work is God-envy; an envy of believers for the motivational power of religion, which is not dissimilar to those annoying reports... [read more]

The Battle for Higher Education

Michael Bailey and Des Freedman (eds.), The Assault on Universities: A Manifesto for Resistance

reviewed by Tom Steele

Do we need universities? The radical educational critiques of the 1960s and 1970s, most associated with the philosopher Ivan Illich but carried forward by other ‘deschoolers’, argued that universities were only the end point of an educational system bent on producing conformist individuals, pruned of critical and imaginative capacities, for the capitalist workplace. The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu went on to show how the university functions as the finishing stage in the reproduction... [read more]

Eurocentric Angst

Jűrgen Habermas, The Crisis of the European Union: A Response

reviewed by Tony Norfield

Jűrgen Habermas is one of Europe’s prominent sociologists and philosophers. As he correctly points out, the economic troubles in Europe are of critical importance to the European Union as a whole, rather than simply members of the Euro currency area. Were the Euro project to fail, it would not only be a major economic event; it would represent the destruction of decades of political planning by Europe’s major powers, Germany and France, and throw into turmoil the relationships between all... [read more]