Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Berridge, Lynch, Makawi & De Waal - Sudan's Unfinished Democracy: The Promise & Betrayal of a People's Revolution

The Sudanese Revolution began at the end of December 2018 as a cost of living crisis and growing economic problems saw street protests that developed into demands for the President Omar al-Bashir to step down. There have been many twists and turns in the revolution since then, including violent repression by the military regime that stepped in after Bashir's fall in 2019. The revolution has been marked by mass protests and strikes and, significantly, the growth of democratic revolutionary organisational bodies - known as resistance committees - that have taken on the task of organising the movement. The revolutionary process, in my opinion, has not ended - in recent weeks we have seen the re-emergence of mass protests - and the Sudanese Revolution could well become a significant working class revolutionary event of the 21st century.

Sudan's Unfinished Democracy is perhaps the first book length treatment of the Sudanese Revolution. It's authors are activists, journalists and academics with an extensive acquaintance with Sudanese politics. It is, for any reservations that I will express, undoubtedly an important work that ought to be read by anyone trying to understand events in Sudan. 

Recent Sudanese politics have been dominated by the 30 year rule of Omar al-Bashir. Bashir was a ruthless President, whose policies led to the mass killings in Darfur, and the departure of Southern Sudan from the north. A great strength of this book is to guide the reader through the myriad of individuals and overlapping political interests that form the backdrop to Bashir's reign. This also helps understand some of the military and paramilitary forces and organisations that continue to shape Sudanese politics. Usefully the authors root this recent history in the wider context of colonial rule.

The other strength of the book is its exploration of the background to the organisations that formed the backbone of the revolutionary movement. In this we must be slightly careful. Groups like the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) have deep roots in the country's politics, though their role in kickstarting the revolution was minimal. Activists and groups within the SPA however had played an important role in keeping anti-government protest alive, even if their immediate role in the December 2018 revolution was small. The authors argue that the SPA is a complex assemblage, "a mapping of the revolutionary associations would look like a tangled yarn ball", but it was key to the development of further revolutionary groups and particularly the resistance committees. Of these, the authors write: "Personal ties made them work: individuals' networks were used to bring protestors on to the streets when called, and to support them on march days".

The SPA was, out of necessity, secret. In fact the authors argue it made a virtue out of its anonymity and lack of leaders, "a faceless organisation". But this caused problems. When the revolution overthrew Bashir, the SPA was called in to negotiate with the government, but had no clear politics and no clear leadership with whom the military could negotiate. The lack of leaders and the lack of clear politics meant that the military was able to out manoeuvre the SPA, "the longer the talks went on the weaker the civilians became". 

A key moment in the revolution was the establishment of a self-organised mass protest sit-in outside the Sudanese military headquarters. This involved hundreds of thousands and likely, in its participation, democracy and self-organisation, surpassed the achievements of Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution. The sit-in is a touchstone for the authors who see in it not just a revolutionary protest movement but an alternative model of Sudanese society. As such, the author's argue the sit-in posed an enormous threat to military rule. Its democracy, they say, was a direct challenge to 30 years of Sudanese government. The involvement of minority groups from different regions of Sudan and women in central roles had to end. Over time the military delayed negotiations and eroded the sit-in, helping to undermine the revolution's main strength. Eventually they were to unleash brutal force against it, breaking up the protest with killing and rape. There is no doubt that the sit-in was important and a massive challenge to the military's political framework, and could not be tolerated beyond the first months of the revolution.

But I think the focus on the sit-in misses more important revolutionary dynamics. The attack on the sit-in takes place after a general strike, a strike called by the SPA to try and drive negotiations forward (the slogan was for "full victory" to the revolution). It was a military response not just to the sit-in, but also to the growing power of the revolution as expressed by the mass strikes. This was the army's attempt to break the stalemate, just as the general strike had been the SPA's attempt. A follow up strike was quickly called off as the military entered negotiations and the SPA signed an agreement for Civilian and Military power-sharing in August 2019. This was a disaster and set the scene for the military coup that followed.

All of these twists and turns are described well by the authors and readers trying to get to grips with the politics of the Sudanese Revolution should study them. But I think that the framework used by the authors is inadequate. One particular gripe I have is that there seems to be a downplaying of workers' strikes in this account of the revolution. This means that the authors' do not see an alternative power to the military within the revolution. For them, the revolution is the sit-in. Of this they write:

This was a moment of Utopian revolution in Sudan, an inspiring promise that a different world was possible. For a few weeks, in one place, the fog of politics cleared enough for a remarkable congregation of Sudanese to create a space for a festival of a popular republic. It was euphoric: a generation’s worth of ideals and aspirations released in an explosion of pride, protest and patriotism. It was a moment and a place where everything that divided Sudanese citizens was set aside, when citizenship and participation took on a heightened sense... The sit-in coalesced around an egalitarian system of solidarity that stood in stark contradiction to the hierarchies and deal-making that still dominated the world outside its barricades. Anyone with human feelings was inspired. There was a democratic Sudan and it lasted 53 days - between the challenge to a dictator and a massacre. 

The destruction of the sit-in, for the authors, was the end of the revolution. But that's inadequate - the revolution is not yet over. The question is where is the power to take it forward by challenging the military and offering a vision of a new way of organising Sudanese society. This has to be about the coming together of popular democracy from below, in the form of the resistance committees AND the power of workers at the point of production. 

The authors' repeatedly dismiss revolutionary socialist politics, though they tend to associate this with the politics of Communist Parties. As such I think they miss the insights that the Russian Revolution might offer. There, for instance, the strength of workers' councils and Soviets during the period of Dual Power in 1917, was enough to break rank and file soldiers from the generals. A similar dynamic was seen as the start of the Sudanese Revolution, but the failure to develop this alternative power within society meant that the military could regroup.

The military spent the period after the fall of Bashir consolidating its power over the Sudanese state. The authors' of Sudan's Unfinished Democracy emphasise the power of non-violence to bring down the dictator, but offer no roadmap for going forward with this. But that's because the strategy they advocate cannot challenge the power of the state. In particular their neglect of workers' struggles means they cannot envisage this power developing, hence the pessimistic conclusions quoted above. The question for revolutionaries in Sudan today is not just how they can win, but where the revolution is going. Is it simply trying to achieve the sort of pro-market democracy that Western powers would like? Or is it going in the direction of a more radical reshaping of society from the ground up?

The Sudanese Revolution has not ended, though its next direction is not yet clear. But one thing we can say is that the last three years has seen enormous bravery and élan on the part of ordinary Sudanese people. For all my criticisms of their book, the authors' of Sudan's Unfinished Democracy certainly understand and celebrate this. Which is why it is a book that can help us all understand what is happening in this unfinished revolution.

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Ayeb & Bush - Food Insecurity & Revolution in the Middle East & North Africa
Alexander & Bassiouny - Bread, Freedom, Social Justice: Workers & the Egyptian Revolution
El-Mahdi & Marfleet - Egypt: The Moment of Change
Ziegler - Omdurman

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Hal Draper - Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution Volume 2: The Politics of Social Classes

Having read the first volume of Hal Draper's Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution, I immediately started out on the second. Partly this was out of sheer joy! Draper is a treat to read, combining clarity with humour and, above all, a cleverly structured argument. The first volume dealt with the theory of the State. The second is much more broad, looking at the Politics of Social Classes, which means, in part examining what Marx meant by class and, indeed, politics. The volume opens with a discussion of what Marx meant by revolution. Draper points out that the word has become a "mere synonym for change". But Marx understood that revolution was a fundamental transformation, a struggle of class against class, for a new order.

Social revolution means that the new class in power does not limit itself to change within the framework of the old social system, but tends to put its new state power into basic conflict with the former ruling strata. And the conflict must be resolved more or less quickly in favour of the new or the old; the new political power must proceed to revolutionise the socioeconomic foundation, or else it will be destroyed by the rooted power of the latter. IN either case, by revolution or counterrevolution, congruence will eventually be re-established between the political and socioeconomic foundation.

Here the reader will of course think back to Draper's first volume on the state and Marx's explanation of the state protecting the interests of the ruling class and the status quo, and indeed they might look forward to the core politics of the second which deals with the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, which deals with how a workers' state can protect itself as it emerges and faces the challenges from the old order. Draper emphasises the transformative nature of revoution for Marx. These are words that ought to be read by many who see "revolutionary" change being simply about electing radical politicians to bring radical policies from above. Draper:

From Marx's standpoint, what made his theory revolutionary was that it looked to a literal overturning: not simply an overthrow, the deposition of established power, but a turning-over of the social corpus itself, as "the lowest stratum of our present society" stirs, heaves up, with "the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air," as the Manifesto pictured it vividly. This is the revolution; the revolution is not he adoption of a certain social schema. It was only the revolution of the exploited majority that could do this, in Marx's view; therefore the revolution from below had to be a proletarian revolution, and the proletarian ascendency to power had to be a revolution from below.

Developing this thesis through the volume (and honestly I could have quoted page after page of Draper in this review) the author takes us through Marx's concepts of class and his explanation of various classes - from the proletariat, to specifics of the working class, the bourgeoise, as well as groups like intellectuals. The chapter on the latter has plenty of entertaining quotes that can be used against academic Marxists who feel that their ivory tower places them above the struggle itself. I won't do them, but readers (especially academic Marxists) ought to read them. I must also highlight the appendix on beards and hair, "Marxism and Pilosity" for those readers craving these insights.

There is much here of practical interest to the socialist activist. For instance there is an insightful discussion of Marx's thoughts on the trade unions and how socialists should relate to them. There's a massive discussion of the peasantry and chapters on two groups - intellectuals and the lumpen proletariat - whose roles have been endlessly dissected by Marxists. Draper presents Marx's thoughts with clarity. 

But Draper constantly returns to his central theme - the revolutionary project at the core of Marx's ideas:

Only a movement of the immense majority, in its own interests, could be a movement of self-emancipation. This moves out of the sphere of charity versus self-help, to become a basic determinant of the nature of socialism.

Draper illustrates this with a deep discussion of Marx and Engels' thoughts on the 1848 revolution, in particular their discussion of what has come to be termed "permanent revolution". There is a linguistic discussion too - for those who've struggled with the meaning of "permanent" in this context. But it's Draper's discussion of the contradictory and cowardly role of the German bourgeoisie in 1848/9 that is so useful in this context. It is simultaneously a clear discussion of Marx's ideas and a brilliant application of the Marxist method itself. 

Reading Draper is an immersion in Marx and Engels' thought that shows how Marxism developed over time, responding to the actuality of revolution, and the tasks and challenges the movement faced. The sections on 1848 in this volume are particularly useful showing how their thought changes and then, once they have understood that the bourgeoise is not going to play its early role, how they seize this idea themselves to arm the workers' movement. As with volume one, and I suspect volume three, this comes highly recommended.

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Draper - Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution Volume 1: State & Bureaucracy

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Alastair Reynolds - Inhibitor Phase

The latest of Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space novels is much less of a galaxy spanning story than some of his other works. Here we are closely focused on the story of Miguel de Ruyter. At the beginning he is the head of a small human colony, hiding deep inside a remote planet. An alien technology, the Wolves, has destroyed most of humanity's galactic civilisation, just as they previously destroyed other galactic societies. Their motivation is unknown and humans survive in isolated pockets. Ruyter has worked to protect his small group hoping that somehow they can survive long enough for the Wolves to be defeated.

His vigil is interrupted by the arrival of a humanoid, Glass, who comes to pull Miguel back into the galactic war that he had deliberately forgotten. Glass turns out to be a conjoiner, an augmented human who needs Miguel because his long dead brother has the key to a super-weapon that can defeat the Wolves. Gradually Miguel learns who he is as, together with Glass, they travel the galaxy finding allies and equipment to get the secrets they need.

It's a complex novel, but brilliantly constructed. The pace is well crafted with the reader learning Miguel's real history interspersed with a growing realisation with what that history meant. I also liked the way that Miguel's feud with Glass is set out, his frustration at her behaviour dragging him away from home, combined by their mutual need to stand together brings a nice counterpoint to the wider story. 

Fans of Reynolds' will find many concepts and species return in Inhibitor Phase, though things may have developed further. While there is a slight tendency for deus ex machina on the part of the author I tend to think that the reader is very much along for the ride in such a wide ranging story. Just hang on is my advice.

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Monday, April 11, 2022

Pat Devine - Democracy and Economic Planning

The question of how a society that rationally uses resources in the interest of the "associated producers" is one that is being asked with increased urgency given the ecological crisis that humanity faces. For revolutionary socialists the answer has always been "democratic planning" of the economy. But how this might work is a subject of intense debate. Pat Devine's book Democracy and Economic Planning has been mentioned by a number of Marxist writers in this context and his proposal of "negotiated coordination" is a clear and logical response to those who argue that economies cannot work with out some for of market, or profit motive.

Devine's argument is clear:

The case for planning is that it enables the conscious shaping of economic activity, in accordance with individually and collectively determined needs, and it overcomes the instability that is an endemic empirical characteristic of market-based economies. So far, neither historical experience nor the state of theory gives any reasons to suppose that market-based economies can be managed or regulated effectively enough to achieve these objectives.

Devine opens the book by exploring how and why capitalist and "statist" economies fail to deliver what people and the environment need. Devine classes the former USSR and Eastern European economies as "statist" rather than my preferred term of "State Capitalist" though its clear that there is some overlap. However Devine certainly doesn't see these societies as socialist arguing that like the capitalist countries they failed to deliver for ordinary people. First published in 1989 the book bears the hallmarks of being written in the period when the State Capitalist regimes collapsed and people were urgently looking for other models. As such his demolition of the "third way" of "Market Socialism" as practised in Yugoslavia is very useful. 

For many people "planning" brings to mind the top-down, "command" economies of Eastern Europe. Devine shows why this model doesn't work, and argues that instead "what is needed is a form of democratic planning combining centrally taken decisions where necessary with decentralised decision-making wherever possible." In arguing against the free-market (i,e. a system were economic decisions are based on maximising profit of companies etc) Devine makes it clear he doesn't reject "market-exchange".  For such a system to work would require the conscious transformation of those engaged in the planning, at every level in society. As Devine says:

Participation in the detailed construction of the social interest, taking account of the interests of all involved, is a central part of the process through which people cease to be objects, to be manipulated by administrative command or economic incentives, and become self-activating subjects who do what they do because they think it is right... narrow self-interest gives way to a broader self-interest, in which people's own interests are redefined to include the interest of others.

It is this aspect to the vision of a democratic planned economy which means that bourgeois economists cannot comprehend it working, because they cannot imagine people at every level of society being part of a collectively organised and decided rational approach to the economy. While a national framework of what is needed would need to be agreed - crucially not by an unelected and unaccountable group - it would be done through a process of debate, discussion and information input from all levels and sectors of society. Such a "broad allocation of resources" would "reflect social priorities":

The result would be a pattern of specific claims on resources, that is, a distribution of purchasing power or demand, that had been shaped by overall social priorities and yet reflected group and individual preferences. Demand would be from government and functional social bodies for social consumption and investment, from government bodies, but channelled through negotiated coordination bodies and production units, for major economic investment; from production units for minor new investment, as agreed by their negotiated coordination bodies and from individuals and households for personal consumption.

In other words, demand is set by individuals and "production units" and planned for by continuous negotiation by different sections of the economies. Democratic decision making is done through a network of nation, regional and local bodies which are "democratically elected in a context of political party pluralism... vested with ultimate political power". Devine proposes a relatively straightforward set of structures that could negotiate and debate decisions about national or regional frameworks while other, more localised bodies, work out details and respond to needs. He argues that these debates might reflect the interests of different political parties - pointing out that actually they would be political issues - and this undermines the idea that party politics would disappear in a "communist" society.

Devine's book is a detailed and convincing argument. It is not without fault. Firstly the book suffers from a dry academic style and is not as accessible as it ought to be. Secondly, and certainly more importantly, Devine has no real model for how such a society might come about - making a few hand wavy arguments about it being the result of struggles that place the improved democratisation of society at their heart. This is disappointing, and perhaps reflects the authors own rejection of what he calls the "fundamentalist" Marxist movement (i.e. the non-Stalinist, classical tradition). Perhaps Devine did not, or does not, see revolution as possible, but the classical Marxist tradition sees such institutions that could form the basis of a democratic planned economy as arising out of the struggle itself. This is the biggest gap in the book, and while it might make the book more palatable for some audiences for those of us struggling for a more rational society, its a major ommission.

Pat Devine's book has much food for thought, but his arguments become utopian as they are abstracted from the revolutionary movements that could make them real. Nonetheless there are stimulating and profound insights into what is wrong and what could be right.   

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Prosper-Olivier Lissagaray - History of the Paris Commune

Prosper-Olivier Lissagaray was a participant in the revolutionary Paris Commune of 1871. He is popularly supposed to have been "the last man on the barricades" and while not a leading figure in the revolution, he was very much at its heart as a fighter. Escaping France he went into exile in London where he began work on his History of the Paris Commune, drawing on contemporary reports, personal experiences and the recollections of exiles. Working with Karl Marx the book was translated into English by Marx's daughter Eleanor, with whom Lissagaray became engaged. 

The book then is remarkable in the sense that it is an eyewitness account of a revolution, and has close links to two of the worlds' great revolutionaries. But what of the book itself? The book begins with the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 which gave birth to the Commune, but events are probably hard to follow for the reader who knows little of that period of French history. Writing in the aftermath of the Commune, when details were fresh, but political battles were being waged over the interpretation of events, Lissagaray gives a vast amount of detail about figures from the French left. Those unaccustomed to this might find it easier to read an introductory account first before delving into Lissagaray.

But readers should delve into this book. Despite the difficulties with detail, its a fascinating and impassioned account of revolution. Lissagaray is enthusiastic about the people who made the revolution and critical of those elected to lead it, whom he says spent too much time talking and not enough deciding. Clearly there were mistakes made during the Commune's brief lifetime and Lissagaray is open about them. But he always begins from the revolution itself, "for the tenth time since 1789 the workmen put France upon the right track". Lissagaray also devotes two chapters to the short-lived Communes outside of Paris, that are rarely discussed in books about 1871. These lasted barely a few days, their short lifetimes being in part due to the lack of industrial development and hence sizeable proletariat outside Paris, the weaknesses of the left and the failure of the Commune to make it clear to the wider country what it was doing. 

These failures know doubt helped condemn the Commune, though not as much as the failure by the revolution to immediately take on the military force of the old government at Versailles. As Lissagaray says the French bourgeoisie "seeing this Paris capable of engendering a new world, her heart swelled with the best blood of France, had but one thought - to bleed Paris." And bleed it they did. 

The brutal assault on Paris which Lissagaray played a role in resisting was followed by the most violent and bestial repression. Lissagaray quotes official figures that suggest that 17,000 people were summarily executed in the "bloody week" following the storming of the city. Thousands more died, were deported, tortured and imprisoned in the most sickening of conditions. Much of the final part of Lissagaray's book is an account of these tragedies and the violence of the French government. No doubt this is in part a contribution to the political debates taking place, but also an political act to drum up support for the exiles and prisoners. 

The ruling class wanted to drown Paris in blood to teach the workers' a lesson. Never again should they threaten the rightful place of the bourgeois class. But despite the massacre, and contrary to the hopes of capitalists everywhere, the Paris Commune remains an inspirational moment in working class history, from which we even the greatest revolutionaries could learn. Despite some accessibility issues, Lissagaray's book is a superb history that all radicals should read.

Related Reviews

Abidor - Voices of the Paris Commune
Marx - The Civil War in France
Lenin - The State and Revolution
Merriman - Massacre: The Life & Death of the Paris Commune of 1871
Gluckstein - The Paris Commune - A Revolution in Democracy

Monday, April 04, 2022

V.I.Lenin - The State and Revolution

Lenin's State and Revolution is a remarkable work. It is likely the only book of Marxist theory that was written during a revolution that deals with the fundamental political questions of that revolution. It was written while Lenin was in temporary exile in Finland having fled a temporary burst of anti-Bolshevik reaction on the part of the Provisional Government in the late Summer of 1917. It bears the hallmark of intense engagement with Marx's writing on the State and the pressure of revolutionary organising.

As the title suggests the key question of the book is the state and Lenin looks at Marx's writings on two revolutionary moments - the 1848 revolution and the Paris Commune to understand the tasks of the revolutionary movement in 1917. My Penguin edition has a sneering introduction by the historian Robert Service who mocks Lenin's politics and writing in State and Revolution. Service claims that no one would have read and understood S&R in 1917 as it required an engagement with classical Marxist texts that few would have even heard about. What Service doesn't comprehend is that Lenin is clearly writing the book in order to clarify his own ideas, in order to win them within the Bolshevik party. 

As such Lenin repeatedly tackles the key question of the role of the state from different directions. He begins with Marx and Engels assertion that the state is the "product of the irreconcilability of class contradictions" and "arises where, when and to the extent that class contradictions objectively cannot be reconciled". This leads him into a critique those in the Russian Revolution who think that classes can be reconciled by the state itself, and in turn to Karl Kautsky's "distortion of Marxism" which denies that "the state is an organ of class rule." 

Lenin's discussions on the Paris Commune cannot be reduced simply to understanding the role of the state and emphasising Marx's argument that the state must be smashed. He also explores it fo context on what a workers' state must do - i.e. be "not a parliamentary but a working institution", tackling the parliamentarians who would get elected but leave the real business of the state to others, "behind the scenes" without accountability or control. Lenin writes:

The Commune replaces the venal and rotten parliamentarianism of bourgeois society with institutions in which freedom of opinion and discussion do not degenerate into deception, for the parliamentarians themselves have to work, have to execute their own laws, have to test their results in real life and to answer directly to their electors. Representative institutions remain, but parliamentarianism does not exist here as a special system, as the division of labour between the legislative and the executive, as a privileged position for the deputies. We cannot imagine democracy, even proletarian democracy, without representative institutions, be we can and must imagine democracy without parliamentarianism if our criticisms of bourgeois society are not mere empty words for us, if the aspiration to overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie is our serious and sincere desire.

Since the state is a antagonistic institution of class rule, the workers' state is the same. Suppressing the old ruling class and the capitalists, in the interest of the majority of society (workers and peasants in the case of Russia). Here Lenin argues for the "Dictatorship of the Proletariat" - the idea that in the aftermath of revolution, the reality of the socialist state is one that oppresses the counter-revolutionary minority - the old capitalist class. This concept is one that Service finds particularly repugnant. But for Marx, and Lenin, the state must whither away alongside the class antagonisms themselves. Only then can people live and become "accustomed to observing the elementary rules of social intercourse... without compulsion, without subordination, without the special apparatus for compulsion which is called the state."

Lenin's polemic, at it's heart, is a powerful working through of the Marxist theory of the state written in the midst of revolution. It is easy to bemoan what is missing - the chapters on the "Russian experience" of 1905 and 1917 were never written and one can only imagine how they might have been useful to generations of revolutionaries since 1917. But don't let this prevent you reading it - there is so much here that can guide us today. Recently I read an interview with two Sudanese socialists grappling with the same concepts that were posed to Lenin in 1917 by the actuality of revolution. In their interview they both quoted liberally from State and Revolution. No greater tribute to this work can be made.

Related Reviews

Lenin - The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky
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Marx - The Civil War in France

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Nicholas Monsarrat - The Ship that Died of Shame

The Ship that Died of Shame is a collection of stories by popular author Nicholas Monsarrat who famously wrote sea based novels that often reflected his experiences on anti-submarine ships in the North Atlantic during WWII. These stories are somewhat different, seemingly being a relatively random selection of topics, but I was struck that many of them reflected the post-war experience of men whose life highlight had been their wartime experiences and were unable to deal with civilian reality. The titular story is exactly that - two men shared a close, if occasionally uncomfortable, bond at sea in World War II on a fast launch used to defend the Channel. A few years after the war's end, the captain is looking at the dregs of a drink in a dive bar frequented by former naval personal recounting the same stories, when his former officer finds him out. He's found their old ship, and would he like to do a bit of lucrative smuggling. 

Some of the other stories are remarkably short, designed perhaps for magazines rather than book collections. They are often wry, poking fun at the wealthy such as the account of a tax exiled film star who can't set foot in Britain for fear of a large government bill. The most interesting story is Licensed to Kill is set in South Africa when a former commando meets an old comrade who goes by the nike-name Murderer Martin. You can imagine it doesn't go well.

I'm a big fan of Monsarrat's novels and personal reminisces of life at sea. But this collection doesn't quite hit the sport. The stories felt dated, rather than timeless like his class The Cruel Sea. But there is a sense of loss at the heart of many of them, which perhaps tells the reader much about the 1950s.

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