Miscellaneous Non-Fiction


Open Viens of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano (1971): 318 pages,

The Life History of Raul Honwana: 141 pages, the memoirs of Raúl Honwana, an important figure in Mozambique during the days of colonialism, it documents life in Mozambique from 1905 to 1975 the year of it's independence from portugal. A very eclectic book, more focused on various scattered reminiscences then on a strictly organized account of his life, it is perhaps for this very reason a very interesting book to read that tells much about both the history of Mozambique before colonialism, as well as the pace and nature of life under portugese colonialism. Honwana's family was firmly anti-colonial and had close connections with FRELIMO (The Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) which freed Mozambique of portugese colonialism. Honwana was also the father of one of the most famous Mozambican writers, Luís Bernado Honwana.

Bina Das, a Memoir: 129 pages, Bina Das (1911–1986) was a revolutionary and socialist, who was involved with one of the Indian nationalist groups which believed in revolutionary terrorism. A Bengali, her memoir documents her early years, her connection with the revolutionary movement, and her work in the underground. In 1932 she shot the british governor of Bengal five times but somehow he survived and she spent the next 7 years in prison. After documenting her time in prison, she goes on to discuss her involvement in the nationalist movement after her release and until India's 'independence.' Unlike most, she points out that a lot more needs to be done to make India truly independent. An independent socialist and a very strong woman, her political opinions are very interesting to read throughout the book, even if one doesn't always agree with them. No one, however could disagree that she was entirely committed to the cause of a truly free and independent India without classes or poverty.

The Memoirs of Rashid Maidin (2004): 106 pages,

Greek Women in Resistance by Eleni Fourtouni (1986): 158 pages, focuses mainly on the experiences of leftist Greek women in the concentration camps of the fascist military government of Greece in the aftermath of WWII, women punished brutally because they were politically involved on the left or else were a relative of a partisan in the mountains fighting against the new fascist government. Also documents Greek women's involvement in the communist resistance during WWII, during their fight first against the Italian fascists, then against the german fascists, and then after they had liberated their own country, against the british armed intervention (which eventually led to the forming of a new far-right government made up of former collaborators and fascists). This book shows the essential contribution that women make in a revolutionary movement, as well as their incredible strength and almost mythical dedication and firmness.

Memoirs of Louise Michel: 220 pages

Land or Death by Hugo Blanco: 165 pages

The Philippines, a Past Revisited by Renato Constantino
: 471 pages

The Russian Enigma by Ante Ciliga: 580 pages

On the Eve of 1917 by Alexander Shlyapnikov: 239 pages, written by leader of the Workers Opposition, the first internal opposition group in the Soviet Communist Party, after he was isolated from the party due to his early resistance to the centrilization of power in the Soviet Union and the removal of all power from the workers' soviets, he wrote these memoirs. An old Bolshevik, Shlyapnikov was an active and important party member long before the Revolution, and an example of a true communist worker. This mini-memoirs details his life from approximately the start of WWI to just before the Revolution. During this period Shlyapnikov travelled around Europe organizing the transportation of illegal literature into Russia, raising money for the party, and carrying out other party tasks. One of the interesting things is his discriptions of the working conditions and condition of the labor movement in each country he went to, since as a worker he would support himself anywhere he went by getting a job as a metalworker, and this part of his memoirs brings to mind the Marxist idea that workers have no country, no nation. Returing secretly to Russia in 1916, Shlyapnikov played a prominent role in the party's Petrograd branch and was one of the few Bolshevik leaders to be present there during the February Revolution. A very useful book detailing the hard, extensive, and continuous effort it takes to engage in truly revolutionary work. Shlyapnikov was imprisoned in 1935 and didn't give in to stalinist terror and refused to say he was guilty of imaginary crimes. He was subsequently excecuted in 1937.
 

Vision of the Vanquished, or The Broken Spears by Miguel Leon-Portilla (1959): 222 pages, one of the rare books to tell the story of the rape and genocide of Mexico from, not only the perspective of the victims, but actually in their words. The book contains several extracts from rare Aztec testimonies of the genocide of Mexico, with short introductions by Leon-Portillo to explain the background and peculiarities of the given text, and it also includes many reproductions of Aztec art that were made shortly after the genocide. Unlike most accounts of the genocide of mexico, this one shows the great Aztec people with their full dignity, beauty, and culture, and shows them as a dignified, noble people even after the genocide and the enormous suffering and despair they went through. It also shows the european conquistadors accurately as blood thirsty savages who killed people for no reason at all, brutally tortured innocent people, including children, and who's main reason for doing anything was a greedy desire for rocks and stones. Also, unlike most accounts of the genocide of Mexico, which show the Aztecs as stupid savages who were killed immediately as soon as they tried to resist the europeans' genocide, this account shows the Aztecs as they were: very cultured, with advanced forms of organization and religion, and a complex island city that was beyond the cultural level of Europe at the time. It also shows the Aztecs resisting the european genocide bravely and fiercely, and far from the battle being one-sided, the Aztecs actually slaughtered and beat back the invading murderers many times. In the end of course they did lose to the murdering colonialists, but not before exacting a heavy price on them and fighting them to the death. However we also see the faults and failures of the Aztecs, from the average Aztec's perspective. Like the Aztec leader who chose not to fight the europeans from the very start, when he already knew they were brutal murderers who had massacred all the inhabitants of several villages on the way to Tenoticlan. The same leader that was later imprisoned by the europeans and issued orders to the Aztec people on their behalf, and was later executed by the Aztec people for his treachery and selling out. We also see the collaborationist leaders from other tribes who acted as willing allies to the europeans, completely selling out their Aztec brothers, and in the end even their own people, to foreign invaders. On the hand, we see the radicalism and rebelliousness of the Aztec people who did not hesitate to rise up and take the fight to the colonialists, and execute their former leader, when their brothers were murdered in cold blood by the europeans. As during many other times in history, when the critical momement came, the leaders didn't hesitate to betray their people and sell out, and it took the people rising up and seizing power and initiative in their own hands for any proper response to the situation to be carried out.