This section includes book notes of 150-300 words as well as some book reviews of 600-900 words on books of particular interest to the members of our group. If you have either suggestions for books you would like to review or see reviewed (including recent books of your own), please contact Nigel Copsey of the University of Teesside (UK).
Book Notes Geoff Andrews, Endgames and New Times: The Final Years of British Communism 1964-1991, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 2004, 256 pp., GBP 15.99, ISBN 0-85315-991-2 (pbk). Reviewed by Gidon Cohen (University of Durham, UK) Endgames and New Times, the sixth and final volume in the ‘official’ history of the Communist Party of Great Britain, traces the last years of the CPGB from its attempted engagement with the popular culture of the 1960s to its disintegration in 1991. Although written by a (former) party member, there are few other similarities with the early volumes. Where these more or less reverentially discussed the high politics of the organisation focussing on the party line and top down politics from the centre, this work begins with the bottom up challenges to central authority posed by intellectuals, the Young Communist League, students and feminists. The explanation of eventual decline is couched primarily in ideological terms, focussing on divisions within the party. On one side the text outlines the importance of a militant labourist perspective, closely associated with the party’s continuing even, in the early 1970s, growing influence within the Trade Union movement. On the other, it details socialist humanist and Gramscian perspectives and their by no means straightforward relationship to Eurocommunist arguments. The author’s Gramscian sympathies are evident in the deeper engagement with activists from this side, enhanced by extensive primary research. Perhaps more fundamentally the text is couched in terms which make this project most plausible. The problematic relationship of the party to the Soviet Union, and the residual but emphatic loyalty of so many party members to the regime are discussed, but the ‘Soviet mantra’ is consciously downplayed with the consequence that the text only briefly addresses the impact of this on our understanding of decline. Given this is the first detailed examination of the