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‘Tis the season for Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, shovelling Quality Street into your mouth and the dreaded present shop…

But, this year is different: Pluto have made it simple! Our staff have amassed a gift guide of all of our favourite Pluto books from 2017 – we’ve got biographies, cultural and political theory, and studies of labour! Plus, ALL our books are 50% off until 11th December! Get browsing!

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Sound System: The Political Power of Music

By Dave Randall

As someone who is ‘into’ both music and politics, I had eagerly anticipated the arrival of Dave Randall’s Sound System back in March. As the back-cover rightly claims, it is a book of ‘raves, riots and revolution’, crossing both borders and centuries in its journey to discover what makes music so powerful. Rough Trade recently named Sound System one of their top-20 books of the year, which is a well-deserved accolade to say the least.

Some of the stories in the book were already familiar to me, but a great deal were not: a frivolous example would be the medieval Church’s ban on such ‘edgy’ musical intervals as the flat fifth (which they branded as ‘the devil in music’), arguing that anything deviating from plainly sung octaves, fourths and fifths was morally corrupting and a threat to social order. Randall devotes most of his time to the 20th and 21st centuries, however, exploring everything from bootlegged Beatles songs printed on discarded hospital X-ray prints in the 1960s USSR, to Beyonce’s 2016 Super Bowl performance.

In summary: impassioned and enthralling, Sound System would make an excellent gift for the politically engaged music lover in your life.

Chosen by Chris Browne, Digital Marketing Manager

The Unchosen: The Lives of Israel’s New Others

By Mya Guarnieri Jaradat

These intimate portraits of people embodying the many types of non-Jewish migration to Israel highlight the extremely restrictive work visas, corrupt job agencies, pitiful provisions for childcare, onerous employment terms and widespread racism on the streets that are a feature of their day-to-day lives.

The Unchosen is an astonishing feat of reportage.

Chosen by Kieran O’Connor, Publicity and Events Executive

Toussaint Louverture: A Black Jacobin in the Age of Revolutions

By Charles Forsdick and Christian Høgsbjerg

I really enjoyed this fascinating biography of the 18th-century Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture. Coming out of the tradition of radical historical scholarship best exemplified by C.L.R. James, the authors describe how Louverture was born into slavery on a Caribbean plantation, but was able to break from his bondage to lead an army of freed African slaves to victory against their colonial oppressors. They explain that the Haitian Revolution, by abolishing slavery in the sugar plantation colony of Saint-Domingue, went further in its commitment to the principle of universal emancipation and human rights for all than any other revolution of the period. It’s a beautifully concise and readable history and I loved the colour illustrations, which helped bring the story to life.

Chosen by Robert Webb, Managing Editor

The Death of Homo Economicus: Work, Debt and the Myth of Endless Accumulation

By Peter Fleming

If you want all of what you have been told about the management of people and the world of work to be debunked, thrown out and generally discredited, then this is the book for you. It’s the first Pluto book I’ve read since I started as MD. I couldn’t put it down.

My copy is now beautifully well thumbed – folded corners, pen marks, grubby edges. Fleming shows how our economic culture is killing us and how we are complicit in our own demise. It is scathing, witty, angry and smart and barely a week goes by that I don’t reference or apply something from the book.

Chosen by Veruschka Selbach, Managing Director

On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements

By Ella Shohat

This career-spanning selection of renowned cultural critic Ella Shohat’s work is a groundbreaking intervention into the fundamental historical, cultural and philosophical questions around Zionism, Arab-Jews, and the Middle Eastern diaspora. Shohat fiercely challenges paradigms proposed by mainstream post-Zionist writing; in particular, the binarist and Eurocentric Arab-versus-Jew rendering of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Shohat engages with complex questions around nationalism, Orientalism, and colonialism, through the lens of history, sociology, literature, film, media studies, and cultural studies, providing the reader with a vivid and cutting-edge transdisciplinary perspective. The book unpacks contentious issues including the anomalies of the national/colonial in Zionist discourse; the narrating of Jewish pasts in Muslim spaces; and the links and distinctions between the dispossession of the Nakba and the dislocation of Arab-Jews.

Shohat’s intellectual journey has paved the way for many discussions today, and is essential reading for anyone aiming to deepen their understanding of the pivotal figure of the Arab-Jew. Whether you’re interested in political essays, speeches, testimonies, or memoirs, this book draws on a rich selection of material with something for all, making it the perfect gift for Christmas!

Chosen by Neda Tehrani, Assistant Editor

Black Skin, White Masks

By Frantz Fanon

Reading Fanon’s book is a catalyst; demanding we ask a number of questions of ourselves as we read: how am I complicit in structural oppression? How do other forms of structural oppressions (sexuality, gender, physical ability) affect social relations? It provides a lesson in decoding language and the ‘facts’ of life. Its relevance speaks volumes of contemporary race relations and politics.

This year the book was released with a brand-new introduction, written by Paul Gilroy. Gilroy presents Fanon’s study of the ‘lived experience of the black man’ as ‘one of the most important guides to the political environment we inhabit’, asking ‘what more stimulating and important gift
could Fanon have offered to our own predicament?’. Reaching into the book’s history, Gilroy writes of the sociological and historical junctures that allowed for the book’s flourishing and the thorny politics of translating Fanon, which have allowed the book to live ’several lives in different languages’.

With a beautiful new cover by David Pearson, this book is the essential gift for all those who continue the struggle for political and cultural liberation in our troubled times.

Chosen by Florence Stencel – Wade, Sales and Marketing Assistant.

Voices from the ‘Jungle’: Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp 

By the Calais Writers

This book is written by twenty-two of the refugees who lived in the refugee camp in Calais known as the ‘Jungle’. Their stories are incredible — they’ve all faced enormous dangers, and physical and mental hardship, to get to Calais. But what is most remarkable is their hope and positivity in the face of the difficulties of daily life there. A lot of them describe the camp as a place with a huge sense of community, where they have made enduring friendships. For a lot of them, it’s one place on their journey to somewhere better. Their resilience and sense of hope for the future is genuinely inspiring.

Chosen by Melanie Patrick, Design Manager

Rebel Footprints: A Guide to Uncovering London’s Radical History

By David Rosenberg

The stories of the workers, strikers, resisters and revolutionaries who populate this book brings history and the city to life. The ugly icons of capitalism which cluster the city these days seem pale and sterile by comparison

My family were immigrants in Hackney – in the days long before gentrification. Fascism was very palpable and real, with Mosley’s Blackshirts marching through the East End. Cable Street is part of my own family DNA. 15 year-olds at my mum’s school ran off to Spain to join the International Brigades. David writes with passion and with conviction in the tradition of the great oral historians who demonstrate that what defines us is history from below. As he says in his introduction: ‘This book honours and celebrates these rebels who dreamt of a better life and aims to ensure that their ideals continue to live in the hearts and minds of those who campaign for justice and equality in our metropolis today.’

Go on his East End walks, and learn for yourself! I hope we will have more books like this celebrating the revolutionary history of other cities.

Chosen by Simon Liebesny, Sales Director.

Voices from the ‘Jungle’: Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp

by Africa, Ali Bajdar, Babak et al, aka the Calais Writers.

Over 2015 and 2016, on a landfill site just outside Calais, migrants from Africa and the Middle East set up and lived in a sprawling, makeshift camp. Called the ‘jungle’ by a fearful and racist French media, many residents later embraced the term themselves to denote that the camp was a place not fit for human habitation. In this book, 22 camp residents tell their stories.

Fleeing from intolerable circumstances in the Middle East or Africa, the authors write of their often-horrific journeys to the camp. Migrants are abused and neglected by people smugglers, shot by border guards and attacked by their dogs, and suffer exposure and deadly falls crossing mountains. But despite the horror, this book is illuminated throughout by the hope of migrants for a better life, and also by the solidarity between migrants as they travel together, live in the camp, and plan their journey into Britain.

Chosen by David Castle, Editorial Director.

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All books are available from Pluto Press and are currently 50% off!