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Book of the week Pele – the autobiography

pele – the autobiography

pocket books sport


Where i live in Dublin there is a certain footballer who was lauded when Dublin won the all-ireland last year.  This player had taken the championship by storm/ and won player of the year by the seasons end.  We often see him in the local park, walking his dog.  He always has time to say hello to the kids and encourages all he sees to play sport.

i often wonder what really goes on in Brian Fentons head, how hard isit to stay grounded when youve played such a pivotal role in your counties success,.  How do you  keep those feet on the ground when most people you see have already spotted you and either congratulate you on your performances or want to, and you know it.  Im sure you practice outting up a facade and try and remain humble.

now magnify that by one million and you are Pele.  My guess is that many years ago Pele gave in to the temptation to remain humble and one day had an epiphany.  “Im the best footballer in the world, there can be no doubt”  And then you have to write a book….


Well this is the book.  Really it should be told King but it is the story of a man better at football than at business who is treated like a king everywhere he goes.  This was published in the 90s but no doubt the focus is more relenting.

Just like a king there are stories of women, not as many enry the 8th but on the way, plenty of children too but with an obvious llove for them.

I read this as my son asked me, never really would have stretched out for it but am glad that i did.  He is some footballer after all.



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Chasing The Scream

Chasing The Scream

Johann Hari

Bloomsbury Press


As a starting point to this review I have one question.  According to the lancet, What is the most harmful drug?
Coincidentally shortly in the week where two people were shot and murdered in separate instances on Dublin’s streets I started reading ‘Chasing the scream’, courtesy of El presidente. Ironically enough this book was given to me as a present by one of the very few adults I know that doesn’t drink alcohol, smoke or take drugs. When I look in the mirror I see another one. I have never participated and found it ironic ( and still do to a certain extent) that I know people who wish to “smash the system” and will boycott nestle or other companies over dubious business practices but seem to think it’s ok to assist in the profits of alcohol companies or drug lords. Just because I don’t take them though doesn’t mean I can’t see the merit in decriminalisation and the case is made constantly throughout these pages. Just as people who drink alcohol have a 90% chance of becoming alcoholic the figures are similar for drug users. Imagine how different the world would look like if the money was taken from fighting drug crime to treatment centres and awareness
This weeks killings in Dublin were acted out in open spaces with many people acting as bystanders, dragged into events by virtue of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time”. The perpetrators and victims, if media are to be believed, were involved or linked by blood relation to Dublins criminal underworld. Much of this underworld are involved in the sale and distribution of drugs.
And that’s where Chasing the scream comes in. It charts the beginning of the drug war and how just over a century ago department stores were selling heroin nets. We begin with three individuals born into a time when the war on drugs had not yet started but was about to play a huge part in their lives
Harry Anslinger was an FBI agent assigned to what was become the war on drugs. Whether it was a war on drugs or on minorities using them is up to question as much of Anslingers language would not be tolerated today
Billie holidays story is a real tale of wrong place wrong te. Orphaned and destitute
Of course every war has victims. Victims of circumstances and in some cases geography. Soldiers don’t always have a historical reason or a sense of belonging. Sometimes they just fall into it. Chino is one. Destined for a life of destitution, it seems that Chino was always going to end on the streets in a spiral of drug abuse and violence. The war on drugs creates many casualties and drug dealers in many instances are casualties “..exploded and discarded shells, left behind on a global battlefield”. People in their radar can be casualties but the majority of violence isn’t around the action of taking drugs, it’s around the fight for power. Hari explains that in great detail and looking at the recent killings in Dublin only copper fastens that. A fight over territory so that more money can be made. He also speaks to people on all sides, including  those responsible for enforcing the law, however it is noticeable that increasing arrests haven’t led to decreasing number of drug deals
There are other victims written about here. New York, Mexico, Texas. All places with people struggling through life and somehow with a vision for a better world, a world that if it arrives is only temporary. Take Mexico and its 70,000 dead (that’s SEVENTY THOUSAND PEOPLE murdered in a country). What hope is there?  We need hope but with the drug war continuing it is hard to find it.
There is a fascinating chapter on the people who fall into addiction. There is a a theory that says addiction is not about usage it’s more akin to easing pain. The 10% of drug users who become addicts do so for a reason and maybe it’s not down to repetitive use.  Why do addicts keep doing it? we are asked  “because it makes them feel good, and the rest of their life doesn’t make them feel good”. Hari asks why isn’t more time spent looking at the people and their environment rather than biochemistry and the brain. Of course it is a valid point even if you’re sceptical of the underlying reasons. The way we view addicts is another aspect for consideration if someone is being treated for alcohol addiction there is almost sympathy, how different is that viewpoint for a drug addict. Portugese authorities are starting to view their addicts with sympathy. As drug use is no longer criminalised on lisbons streets there is a feeling “we all want to protect our children from drugs, we all want to keep people dying as a result of drug use. We all want to reduce addiction. And the evidence suggests that when we move beyond the drug war, we will be able to achieve these goals with shared success.
Another interesting aspect and a potential solution to assisting addicts and society at large is the idea of a social recovery. We are all in a rush to be consumers. Working more and buying more. This is have devastating effects on our environment but yet we continue. Why not pursue this? Cities like Licerpool, Vancouver and Geneva have all, to varying effects, set up injection clinics where heroin is provided in a controlled environment. This has reduced drug crime and deaths. Why not spend money in this rather than in crime prevention and detention?
Former Swiss president, Ruth dreifuss, is asked what she would say to David Cameron and Barack Obama should they be stuck in a lift together. “You are responsible for all of your citizens, and being responsible means protecting them and giving them the means to protect themselves. There is no group that you can abandon”. Yet it seems those involved in drugs are being abandoned.
As someone who walked the streets to first stop animal experiments in March 1983 and whose feelings haven’t wavered since I’m disappointed to read of tests with rats around the use of opiates. These tests are given ink but I can’t point to their validity. It sidetracked the issue for me and would be far more comfortable if it wasn’t raised.
I finished this book as we entered our general election frenzy and smiled wryly as hari observes “in a true democracy, nobody gets written off. Nobody gets abandoned. The revolution lives”. Some day maybe. To a country near you.
Oh an the answer is alcohol

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What I’m Reading – Roy Foster – Vivid Faces

This is the first in a series of how many I eventually do.  Rather than writing a review I will ask people to tell me what they are reading and what they like about the book.  Kicking it off is Michael McCaughan telling me about Roy Foster’s Vivid Faces, the Revolutionary Generation in Ireland 1890 – 1923 Penguin Books


Is a really interesting account about some of the main and not so main people behind the Rising and subsequent insurrection and war of independence and civil war era.

Foster takes these characters and looks at not just what their cv’s were like, ie cultural nationalist or served in the British armay and then trained the irish volunteers. he looks at it from a generational perspective, almost as a generation who rejected their parents values, went out and were influenced by feminism, vegetarianism, the most remarkable things we don’t associate with that generation because we have it down to a narrow nationalist narrative.

I learned today that there were two vegetarian restaurants in Dublin at the time where a lot of them used to hang out in. It a cultural history through people’s stories that are not just tales of the great men who participated

el presidente

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Book of the week – Kim Gordon, Girl In A Band


Kim Gordon

Girl in a band

Faber Press
Wrapped in what must be the most understated title ever we get Kim Gordons autobiography. Kim was the bass player in hugely influential guitar noise band Sonic Youth. For over 30 years the band forged new ground for guitar based music. Always evolving, forever moving.
In an interesting twist we get the last days of the band to begin with. Kim was married to Thurston Moore for 27 years, all that time playing together in Sonic Youth and when that marriage hit the rocks the band did too. When talking about their relationship it feels at times like I was a fly on the wall of a therapy session. This books publishing must have had a cathartic effect on Kim. Some home truths are exposed.
Once that’s out of the way we hear of her youth. Growing up in l.a. A year out in Hawaii and another in Hong Kong. Early holidays in Oregon.  I have vivid memories as a kid going to the cinema to see an old Peter lorrie movie. My memory of it is that it was called “the hand” but Kim reminds me in the book that it was “the beast with five fingers”. While I was hiding behind the seat in front of me at the cinema Kim was in fear that the chopped hand with a life of its own was under her bed waiting to pounce. I guess that film had a profound effect on both of us.
However Kim’s life after that was a life of beatnik, jazz, cool music and New Yorker magazines.
As autobiographies are tales of people’s life’s to date we hear the sadness of her fathers passing, her older brother’s mental illness, her breeding in art and tales of former lovers including the story of an on off relationship with Simpsons score composer Danny Elfman.
It was another Dan, Grantham who introduced punk rock to an open minded Kim Gordon and who stated that rock an roll was more important than art. Kim was more no wave with its vulnerabilities than punk rock with its attitude and aligned herself with that scene
Before putting this book in my hands Kim Gordon and sonic youth were, to me, all about New York. It’s the city I associate the band with. Of course, being the u.s everyone is transient so Kim ended up there but sees it now as a city changed. 35 years later its unrecognisable from the cheap, dangerous and eclectic land it was. It kind of sounds like Dublin. Major retailers and very few quirks. Capital is driving out innovators. “New York City today is a city on steroids.”
Much of the book is made up of short stories, snippets from time. Sonic youth collaborated with many interesting people and many of these are mentioned. Kurt Cobain, Raymond Pettibon, Spike Jonez, Chuck d, Henry Rollins and more. It’s a list of those whose influence has helped shaped alternative culture in the U.S.  Of course Kim is a strong independent female voice swamped at times in this mans world. In her description of Karen carpenter where Kim States “she was an extreme version of what a lot of women suffer from – a lack of control over things other than their bodies, which turns the female body into a tool for power – good, bad, or ugly” it sums up a generation better than a legion of sociologists writing tomes
Now, with Sonic Youth finished, art plays a large part in her life but the art of music is never far away and although she exhibits in a New York Gallery I’ve no doubt there will always be music in her life.

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Brian McMahon Brand New Retro

Brian McMahon Brand New Retro

Brian McMahon Brand New Retro
It is only natural that the 1916 Rising Centenary has seen the launch of, literally, countless books, exhibitions, tours, talks, radio and TV programmes. Yet, as Niall Hope’s review of From Pogrom to Civil War: Tom Glennon and the Belfast IRA indicates, what makes history interesting, important and relevant are the real life stories of everyday people. That was also what I learned from Michael McCaughan’s insight into R.F. Foster’s book, the Vivid Faces: the Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, about the Rising: it’s all about the people. It sounds simple enough, yet sometimes we only learn about the great people (generally men) and the great moments in history. It is as if they came from nowhere. This is clearly not the case.

It is clear that sometimes everyday people find themselves in extraordinary times, or at extraordinary moments. To me, history’s great task is to help us understand not just these moments and events but the people and their everyday lives.

That is why I think that Brian McMahon’s Brand New Retro is not only a brilliant book; it is also a really important one. It is a lavish tome: hardcover, 208 pages, meticulously researched and beautifully designed. It is very clearly a labour of love. It might even be a work of art. I should make it clear that I don’t know who the author is, just in case this fountain of praise makes it sounds like I do. He is behind the brilliant blog, Brand New Retro, which has consistently uncovered and displayed gems from Ireland’s rich, bizarre and unusual popular culture history. It is one of the three Irish culture internet sites that I have learned the most from. The other two are the equally brilliant, Come Here to Me site, and the equally meticulous, Irish site. The book Come Here to Me: Dublin’s Other History (Fallon, McGrath and Murray) was my previous ‘book of the year’.

Back to Brand New Retro. Why do I rate it so highly? Here is one reason: I have spent so much time reading it and looking at it, and only now, for the first time, have I noticed that the stool on the front cover is glossy. Now that is care and attention. As I said, a true labour of love.

To understand the Irish music industry, we need to know the details of the small bands, the unknowns; most of information, naturally, comes from the big stars. That skews our perception of the industry and how it works. And here we have pages of material on the little bands, the might-have-beens, as well as the early features on the future stars. For example here we have pages from the incredibly important Black and White fanzine. U2 and the Blades were featured in 1979 and the magazine champions both of them. What is key about the early Irish music fanzines of the punk and new wave era is that they positioned local acts on the same playing field as international acts. The fanzines (Raw Power, Heat and Vox were the best designed) were not just writing about how much they loved local bands. They were also writing (and interviewing) the international acts they loved too.

This is really important. They were placing the local acts alongside the best new international acts. The fanzines were champions of a global music sub-culture: and very importantly for the local scene, they were stating that local Irish acts belonged to that global scene. This was revolutionary. The fanzines clearly argued that a new youth culture was challenging the accepted order, a youth culture with a Do-It-Yourself attitude, and Ireland was part of it.

And here, McMahon’s pages reproduced from Black and White invite the reader to consider how in same issue included articles about the Virgin Prunes, reviews of the Dead Kennedys, Fad Gadget, Cabaret Voltaire and bootlegs too. This was not the mainstream. The book’s section on Music and Showbiz, over 40 pages of images, really brings home how the local music scene developed. It also captures the creative spark of Irish youth, even in the 1960s when Ireland was very remote from the global music industry. It also captures some of the bizarre local offerings from the Irish music industry. Brand New Retro includes ads for Michael Landers: the ‘five-year-old singing sensation’ whose parents decided to send him touring the music venues of the land. It is worth noting that the politician, Oliver J. Flanagan, argued strenuously that it would be a violation of his rights to prohibit what many saw as exploitation of a child.

The local music industry was shaped by domestic and international factors and the book includes images of early Rory Gallaher, Phil Lynott, RTE Guides, Big Tom and the Mainliners, DC Nien, Joe Dolan, nightclubs, discos, early gay rights campaigns, as well as visits from Madness, The Specials, Depeche Mode and Rod Stewart. The latter remind us that the second wave of ska, originated in Britain, was a huge cultural force for Irish youth in the 1980s. Ireland was at the crossroads and this is well documented here.

The sections on Sport, Readers’ Lives, Lifestyle and Fashion also show Ireland at work and at play. Brand New Retro then is not just a series of snapshots, or a scrapbook of ‘how things were’. It is a vibrant document of a changing society. A society being challenged by forces from inside and outside. And as McMahon makes clear in this incredible collection, popular culture was often a means by which accepted practices were challenged. This was a world where Youghal Carpets were a source of national pride and Cork possessed a competitive cosmetics firm. Take a bow, Melinda.

It was a land where people were consumers, increasingly young people. As we see here, they were urged, cajoled and persuaded to buy Dingos jeans, Clarkes shoes, Glen Abbey tights, and Dulux paints. And they might even get Green Shield stamps with those purchases.
If the book is a shrine to love it is features a fair share of heartbreak. While some forces advance youth culture, there will also be others who will exploit it. The 1971 magazine advertisement for Hibernian Insurance, for example, features a crying, vulnerable young mini-skirted lady. The emotive headline reads: ‘Sue won’t be going to the dance tonight’. Why? Because heartless thieves have broken into her flat. She made the mistake of not having insurance and she now dabs her eyes with a hankie amongst the strewn remains of her possessions: including a box of Weetabix, coat hangers and boxes of matches. Presumably the Gardai were now looking for well-dressed, breakfast-hating, non-smoking criminals.
McMahon points out how the advice given in Ireland’s ‘problem pages’ generally consisted of: ‘discuss with a priest’ or send off for that special book from Easons (book shop)’ (p. 179). But this highlights how prominent the clergy were in Irish cultural life during this era. Yet, this was often in under-documented and surprising ways.
Some of the most startling images are the early 1970s covers of the magazine, An Gael Óg (the Young Irish). They evoked music, fun, freedom and even boys and girls having fun together. The poignant drawings, which must have been cool in their time, feature a young man playing records as well as a young woman playing guitar with concentration. Listen to, and playing, music was a source of pleasure. Another cover features a young man and woman singing, notably she is the guitar player. One even features what appears to be a joyously happy telephone conversation between a young man and young woman. Perhaps the most surprising image though, is of a young couple on a motor bike. The mountain scenery in the background looks familiarly Irish. Yet the smiling young woman holding onto a young man as the motorbike transports them together was not the traditional Irish establishment image of a rigid separation of the sexes. In one of the book’s many surprises I learned that the magazine was published by the Christian Brothers order whose vice-like grip on Irish education has been well documented, often chillingly, elsewhere.

The book perfectly encapsulates an ever-shifting cultural terrain. And it is clear that the consequences of these shifts were important. The gleeful images shine with important examples of struggles over consumerism and commercialism; uniformity and self-expression; as well as craft and identity.

A fun book. A beautiful book. An important book. Everyone who wants to understand Ireland’s history should get their hands on it.

Michael Mary Murphy

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Book of the Week – From Pogrom To Civil War


From Pogrom to civil war
Tom glennon and the Belfast IRA
Kieran Glennon
Mercier History


Available here

Disclaimer, I know the author. We used to go to gigs together and we have many mutual friends. My only time seeing him this century though is at St pats football matches. For Kieran is a big fan. Me! I just like football. Having said that, what an interesting read.

This is a story starting and finishing with Kieran’s grandad Tom and his part in the Belfast pogrom and subsequently role in the Irish army

The dictionary tells me that a pogrom is an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group more commonly used in conflicts representing Jews however Belfast in 1920 saw a populace being undermined due to their religion. I had never heard of the Belfast boycott, organised during the first Dail (Parliament of ireland). Some catholic workers were expelled from shipyards and other workplaces so the Dail decided to boycott Belfast. Interesting in these days of talks about boycotting Israel that we have precedence from our very first parliament. Which, of course, people had set up themselves. The effectiveness of this boycott was the “equivalent of A summer shower threatening cave hill” and it petered out.

One captivating part of the book, like most that reflect a particular time, is the mention of torture and death with the sunglasses of history. Of course time can heal wounds but ambush and murder is spoken about in practical terms and the people doing the ambushing and killing get certain forgiveness nearly a century later.

The Pogrom ultimately finished with a truce but not before another Bloody Sunday where homes and lives were destroyed. At this stage Tom Glennon was incarcerated in the Curragh, a prisoner of war for all intents and purposes. However there was a musical backdrop to their day. While the prisoners were out stretching their legs the trumpeters of the Huzzar Regiment were practicing their musicianship, not just bugle calls but music for the prisoners to remember their time by. Many of you reading this will associate a moment with a particular song. For the prisoners their memory will be the music of the Huzzar regiment. From there it was like a scene from Escape to Victory as plans were hatched for freedom.

Although dealing with events around 1921 it mirrors much of what happened 50+ years later. Bin lids being smacked on street concrete to create a cacophony of noise as a warning for locals that the security forces were entering their communities. Talks of truce, talks abandoned. Extensive killing just as it seems like there may be a respite on the cards. And kidnapping. Removing people from their families to progree your political aims. We get a run down of historic events. As plans for a northern offensive were gathering pace we hear of the facts that for the second time in six years orders were given to commence an insurrection but the countermanding order didn’t quite make it through. And so, somewhat like the opposite of 1916, some soldiers knew there was a cancellation in their plans, however word didn’t make it to all quarters. Also the plans for ira divisions to support their northern comrades by fighting alongside them were also rescinded.

And then the real cat was thrown amongst the pigeons. A line was drawn across the country and the army split. Imagine playing on a football team throughout a cup tournament and getting through to the final days of the season when suddenly the team implodes. Management decisions are questioned and the effectiveness of the direction the team are going in is questioned. Some decree that if they stick together they can make the breakthrough for promotion. Others feel that they are doing well enough and promotion will come another season. The team splits into two and they fight each other rather not than taking on the league for that final push. Ireland’s recent history can be viewed like this. It can also be stated the team might never have got promotion and could have disintegrated. But a split happened which then left northern members exposed more so.

As for Toms tale. He escaped from prison and got £10 and a posting in Donegal. Soon after the Anglo Irish treaty was signed. Not known at the time but Ireland’s war of independence was soon to be Ireland’s civil war. Tom transferred to the newly established national army which found themselves ensconced in what was previously enemy barracks

Much of the book is taken from recollections by people and published stories of the day. These can cause confusion as different versions emerge. However the amount of research Kieran must have gone through is phenomenal. For each event is painstakingly researched and detailed. We are reminded of more facts like the first election in 1921 after our war of independence was done using the voting register for 1918, had it been updated would there have been any difference in the outcome? We can never know.

And what of the IRA soldiers who fought in what was to become Northern Ireland? After the partition of the country “being left short of train fare could serve as a suitable metaphor for the provisional governments treatment of the entire Northern IRA throughout the period following the signing of the treaty…the Belfast brigade..had finally stumbled to a wretched halt”

A feature of this book is how it takes the facts and makes them a stark reality. Consider this, a new state has been set up. The island is partitioned to different and at times violent opinions. The previous force for law and order was disbanded and a new one created for the partitioned part. This didn’t reach all areas and some people who were only recently fighting for a different cause alongside some of the new force they vehemently oppose. is tragedy highly likely or inevitable. We look back generally with an overarching view, Glennon recollects the stories

The civil war petered put and elections in 1923 showed that the majority of those who voted were pro treaty and therefore ready to accept the country as was then, for the short term at least. A tense peace followed.

The climax of the book tells of tom Glennon and how he left his history behind, barely speaking of his soldier days. We also get some analysis of IRA activities up north and the repercussions of these. But ultimately this is a tale of the grandad of a St Pats fan and his journey of knowledge gathering is described to great effect in the epilogue. Fascinating


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Book of the week – Words Will Break Cement

Words will break cement
The passion of pussy riot
Masha Gessen
Granta Book


Ironically enough Masha Greens previous book to this was a look at the unlikely rise of Vladimir Putin and now in the ultimate irony she writes about a band taking on Russian Establishment.

For those with short term memory loss, Pussy Riot are a Russian punk band who decided to enter a Moscow cathedral and perform their punk prayer. Their performance was swift but the repercussions were vast. Hunted down by police 3 of the 5 were arrested and two sent to remote prison colonies. Their story got worldwide attention thanks in no doubt to social media.

Masha Green has decided it’s best we have some background to the people first.

Nadya is well educated, taught to appreciate rebellion and speak up for her beliefs from an early age. Nadya is the daughter of Andrei, from norilsk the worlds most northern large city. Nadya’s real name is Nadezda, Russian for hope. Nadya’s hope as a child was with her grandmother Vera, Russian for faith, as her birth parents couldn’t deal with being parents at the time. Her first foray into cultural terrorism was an art group called Voina, Russian for war. Voina organised flash art events. Events aimed at shaking an old and settled establishment. The people in Voina lived and debated together, commune like. The spirit brought differences and like all good radical groups a split was on the cards. Nadya then had a child.

Kat spent much of her childhood in medical institutions, away from her parents. She was an impeccable student with impeccable results, culminating in a masters in computer programming. She then got into photography and fell under Voinas wings. Their guerilla pranks continued. Other activists got to hear about their actions and looked for involvement. Feminist theory, Russian style developed and using music as an art for developed, Pussy Riot (or Pisya as it began), started. They were performance punks, playing guerilla gigs in open spaces basing their music on British skinhead bands and lyrics as in your face as possible. They picked a uniform image, day goo colours and balaclavas to cover their faces. In Ireland we have the rubber bandits using cut up plastic bags hiding their real identity, pussy riot were colourful guerilla artists.

Maria also came from a broken home and had an active life on the outskirts of Moscow’s activist circle. There was a lot of alcohol involved and being a mother helped focus things, however pranks were never far away,

For us living in Ireland and hearing the outcry amongst the protest movement when police stepped in and arrested people for sitting down in front of the Tanaistes Car it is hard to appreciate the difficulty in protest in countries like Russia. Being arrested is almost part of the protest itself and Pussy Riot never shirked from this.

“Death to the the Jails, Freedom to protest” they proclaimed, mostly in public open spaces. When the rest of the world was looking to occupy spaces and proclaiming to be the 99% Russian activists were working hard on trying to open up their world and the question of how to change the world or where to start began on Moscow’s streets. And when they sang in public, protesting at a system they viewed as repressive, they were in danger of being arrested. Every time. They knew it and still shouted.

As protests grew in Moscow and the establishment worked on breaking them pussy riot felt it inevitable to make an appearance in a church sending a statement to both the authorities and the Catholic Church. Poland were made, video cameras were prepared and they stormed the altar. But not for long.

The capture and hunt of the culprits seems more like a spy tale or espionage thriller, more suited to those endeavouring to overthrow the state by force of weapons rather than words. Finally pussy riot are caught and after being in hunger strike get put on trial for “committing an act of hooliganism, which is a rude disruption of the social order showing a clear disregard for society, committed for reasons of religious hatred toward a particular social group committed by a group of people as a result of conspiracy ”

In a supreme sense of irony during a trial of contradictions many world musicians came out in favour of this Russian punk band. People like Sting, paul mc cartney and U2 rallied on their behalf. The feeling was they just might make it through the trial bring found not guilty. On their final statements we three women all stood up proclaimed their innocence relating to the charges but still pressed home the point that the band are a political statement. Which certainly didn’t help set them free from a guilty verdict.

I’m not giving away any plot by letting you know the band were found guilty and given prison sentences. Words will break cement completed the take by talking about the bands incarceration post trial. It gives verbatim some of the transcripts and letters sent which, while painting the picture, can be a bit long winded in a 300 page book but it goes help paint that picture. If you were to draw out a picture of prison life it would be very much monochrome. Grey buildings cold and depressing under grey skies that never clear. Prison life is very much for punishment purposes. Rehabilitation doesn’t seem to be on the agenda. Like the Russian soldiers sent to the Siberian front Pusey riot were trying to highlight the awful conditions try were living under in prisons where “Collective punishment is employed: you complain about the lack of hot water and they turn it off altogether”

All in all a captivating story and a good enough read considering the author didn’t get a chance to talk to the party involved but had their complete permission to tell their story.


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