Sun, sea and socialism beach reads 2022



Mark Perryman of Philosophy Football makes a personal selection of ten books (and a T-shirt) to add bright thinking to any holiday 


August, England basking in Euro-winning glory. At Wembley where England last won a tournament, the 1966 World Cup. 56 years of hurt ended by England women, How cool is that?  


August, traditionally the height of the British holiday season.  And with the climate now in full emergency mode bright sunshine and hot weather pretty much guaranteed. That's how most of the front pages treat his deadly prospect. Rising summer death rates amongst the old and vulnerable, bush fires, drought pretty much a footnote. 


Beaches along the Kent and Sussex transformed from holiday favourites to the frontline in arguments and actions over asylum, migration and race.  


Staycations increasingly popular, first because of  Covid, now because of a mix of the chaos leaving the country  and a cost of living crisis. But as Unionist Britain breaks up what kind of England, Scotland and Wales remains? 


Holidays, a time of nostalgia, what it was like when we were kids, teenagers, students and twenty somethings. For those now pensionable and of a certain musical, and political disposition the late seventies summers will always be the era of rocking against racism with TRB, X-Ray Spex, Steel, Pulse but most of all The Clash.   


1978 was a generational moment of hope. 2022 is currently looking like quite the opposite.  If Boris Johnson was bad enough should Liz Truss win the Tory leadership election and  implement even half of her leadership election pledges bad could be about to turn into whole lot worse. A summer of discontent threatens to ruin those worst laid plans but decades' worth of experience should have taught us the Tories don't give up that easily, oh no.


Stand and fight, yes, enough to win, no. A new generation of  left intellectuals are developing the kind of ideas that serve to highlight  the absolute lack of any kind of vision from Keir Starmer's Labour. In the 1980s a similar role was performed by writers in and around the magazine Marxism Today. It isn't simply nostalgia to observe how much this kind of thinking is needed today. Revisit, review, rewrite.










1. Suzy Wrack A Woman's Game: The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Women's Football  

On the beach. England European Champions. A blissful summertime mix. And to add depth, context and brilliant ideas to the feel-good factor there's none better than one of the pioneers of the new (women's) football writing, Suzy Wrack, in her debut and most timely book.










2. Adrienne Buller The Value of a Whale: On The Illusions of Green Capitalism

Adrienne Buller is part of a new wave of economists producing  radical ideas in stark contrast to Keir Starmer's mantra ' Labour's mission in government will be economic growth'. With the climate emergency already upon us The Value of a Whale expertly explains why 'growth' isn't enough, not nearly.










3. Chris Armstrong A Blue New Deal: Why We Need a New Politics for the Ocean

For the lucky ones there's no better place to spend August hols than on a beach in the sunshine. Thoughts of what rising sea levels will do to devastate coastal communities and rising summer heat as a threat to our health and environment not the nicest, if necessary, way to break up the sunbathing and swimming. A Blue Deal is the antidote, an incredible read on how by reversing climate change coastal communities could be regenerated.










4. Tariq Ali Winston Churchill: His Times, His Crimes  

'We shall fight on the beaches' was amongst many great Churchill lines a million miles away from the sound bitery of  modern politics.But there's Churchillian myth-making too on an industrial scale, Tariq Ali provides a demolition job that some will disagree with but none should entirely ignore. 










5. Vron Ware Return of a Native: Learning from the Land

For those who prefer a rural spot away from the sand and the sea Return of a Native is an insightful read of how the particularities of the English countryside have become key to constructing Englishness. Combining the ecological and the political this is a book to provoke rethinking well beyond a holiday read. 









6.  Gerry Hassan and Simon Barrow, Eds A Better Nation : The Challenges of Scottish Independence   

The near-perfect summertime city break is surely the Edinburgh Festival.  Edinburgh is also where the re-established Scottish Parliament is located. Since it was the momentum towards independence has been in fits and starts but it will come. Gerry Hassan and Simon Barrow's edited collection of essays is the best possible survey of a shift a tad more important than fretting over whether future festival visitors from the rest of the UK (sic) will need to pack their passports.  










7. Darren Chetty, Grug Muse, Hanan Issa, Iestyn Tyne, Eds  Welsh (Plural) : Essays on the Future of Wales

Across coastal Britain's holiday hotspots 'holiday cottages', second homes, serve to exclude local populations from much needed housing. In Wales, uniquely, resistance to this is combined with a nationalist dimension. Hateful ethno-nationalism? Welsh (Plural) helps us to understand why it is anything but, a nation rediscovering and reinventing itself as 'not British'. 









8. Gregor Gall The Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer

As summer draws to a close September 2022 will mark the 40th anniversary of the break-up of Joe, Mick, Paul and Topper AKA The Clash. For those of a certain age and inclination it was this foursome who provided, and still do, the soundtrack to our lives. Gregor Gall brilliantly locates the music Joe Strummer provided for the band in what he calls 'punk rock politics' a mix  of radicalism, resistance and rebellion, and to dance too.









9. Simon Kuper Chums : How a Tiny Caste of Oxford Tories Took Over the UK  

Simon Kuper's first book Football Against the Enemy came out in 1994, part of the surge in 'new football writing' it stood apart mixing travel and politics with action on the pitch.  A very fine read as has all of Simon's writing been since. Chums is a bit of a departure, no football. Yet it not for one moment disappoints, rather the best ever written dissection of the formation for what passes as the modern Tory Party's leadership. 










10. Doreen Massey Selected Political Writings with Stuart Hall  Selected Political Writings and Robin Murray  Selected Political Writings

If room in the suitcase or rucksack is at a premium this is the book to pack, or if possible three books. Publishers Lawrence and Wishart have produced the perfect reads to take us away from the next-to-no-ideas Keir Starmer Labour Party to an ideological place where ideas are positively overflowing.  Posthumous collections of a triumivrate of key writers from the magazine Marxism Today. Doreen Massey, Stuart Hall and Robin Murray's political writings, no better preparation for after a summer of discontent the change that must follow.







And a T-shirt

On the beach and ever after wear the incredible memories of an unforgettable July 2022. Philosophy Football's unique T-shirt with match details of England's victories versus Austria, Norwaty, Northern Ireland, Spain and Sweden. Then after 120 minutes England 2 Germany 1, 'Lionesses' swapped for CHAMPIONS. From here 



Note No links in this review are to Amazon. If buying books from corporate tax dodgers can be avoided, please do.

Mark Perryman is the co-founder of the sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction aka Philosophy Football