An approachable, comprehensive introduction to British culture outside the mainstream, but it may be a bit too general and...


Counterculture UK


The histories of the United Kingdom’s vibrant underground and alternative cultures are the focus of this essay collection, edited by Gillieron (Plays for Today by Women, 2013) and Robson (Celluloid Ceiling, 2014).

This book’s 15 chapters are each written by a different author, and they cover a broad range of topics as they relate to the U.K. counterculture, including gaming, feminism, environmentalism, online communities, and film. Many essays trace the roots of a particular subculture from the post–World War II years to the present, while others look further back to the earliest decades of the 20th century. A clear passion consistently comes across throughout the collection, with each section looking at the many possible meanings of the term “counterculture.” Their parallels to cultural movements in America, and their divergences from them, will be striking to stateside readers. Still, some chapters stand out more than others. The sections on literature and small-press magazines, black and minority ethnic arts, and the stand-up comedy scene nimbly manage to bring readers up to speed on decades of growth and change while also constructing engaging arguments about their relations to the mainstream. On the other hand, the essays on visual art and music suffer from their attempts to cover too much ground in a limited space. Some major topics, such as the Young British Artists visual art movement and punk rock, get relatively short shrift here, even though each could easily warrant a book-length study of its own. On the whole, the essays benefit from their refusal to get bogged down by obtuse jargon. However, they also draw liberally from the authors’ first-person experiences, which can undermine the credibility of academic writing. But although this rhetorical style isn’t always successful, the examinations of LGBT culture and disability-related arts and activism use it effectively.

An approachable, comprehensive introduction to British culture outside the mainstream, but it may be a bit too general and conversational for academic researchers and scholars. 

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9566329-6-8

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Aurora Metro Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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