Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen, Nawara Mahfoud - book review: A moving testimony to dissidents fighting for democracy

Can finger-puppets strangle a bloodthirsty dictatorship? The dissident artists of the Masasit Mati group began to use the tiny caricatures who populate their satirical series Top Goon because they were easy to transport, and therefore to smuggle. An internet cult after the Syrian uprising started in earnest in 2011, with more than a million YouTube and Facebook hits, Top Goon mocked Bashar al-Assad and his henchmen in merciless Spitting Image style, with episodes such as "Who Wants to Kill a Million?" and "Skyping Putin".

Assata: An Autobiography, by Assata Shakur, book review: Revolutionary from a different time, a different struggle

The revolutionary Black Liberation Army of the 1970s rose out of the ashes of the Black Panther Party to free black people in the United States, this time through armed struggle. The peaceful civil rights movement of the sixties had eliminated segregation but not the racism still endured by African Americans. The United States responded with its white institutional might to bring down the revolutionaries, most notably Assata Shakur.

The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking by Brendan I Koerner; book review

Between the years 1961, when the first plane ever was seized in US airspace, and 1972, the year Roger Holder, an emotionally-ravaged Vietnam deserter, and his loved-up partner in crime Cathy Kerkow seized control of Western Airlines Flight 701, some 159 commercial planes were hijacked in the United States. The Skies Belong To Us is the culmination of four years' research by journalist Brendan I. Koerner, and explores this dramatic and politically embarrassing period of history in vivid detail.

Invisible women: striking gold miners at Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, circa 1855

The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright; book review

‘I had an offer a few days after landing from a gold digger, with £600-700. Since that I have had another from a bushman with £900,’ So wrote a young British serving girl, just arrived in the gold fields of Victoria in the 1850s. She meant offers of marriage, rather than work. There was a shortage of women, so a young, single girl could do much better on the marriage market than she ever could in Britain. As she put it, ‘I have so many chances’.

Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar, book of a lifetime: 'The deadpan formal playfulness still thrills'

In Fort Lee, New Jersey, there used to be a shop called The Book Cave. It was run by two women, one of whom was maybe in her twenties and the other in her thirties, but I can hardly be sure of that because, in my time as a customer at The Book Cave, I was between the ages of 12 and 14 and my perceptions of many things were unreliable, including the ages of women.

The Last Lover by Can Xue, trans. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, book review

While his wife Maria weaves intricate tapestries whose design feels like "dropping into an abyss", Joe manages the Rose Clothing Company in a Western nation known as "Country A".

Implausibly dramatic: Glenn Close from the film 'Fatal Attraction', to which this book is compared

The Disappearance Boy by Neil Bartlett, book review: A world of illusion and self-delusion

Reviewing his first (non-fiction) book Who Was That Man? back in 1988, Edmund White remarked that, "Neil Bartlett has grabbed history by the collar and made bitter love to it." It's been a tendency of his ever since.

Mother Island by Bethan Roberts, book review: Tale of jealous mind makes for gripping thriller

There's little more engrossing than a top-notch psychological thriller. Bethan Roberts's latest novel doesn't disappoint – it's satisfyingly creepy and stimulates that delicious paradox: goose-pimples in summer.

Conversations with My Agent by Rob Long - book review: Recollections of a comedy writer raise a cheer

In 1963 Mel Brooks's comedy partner Carl Reiner wrote the autobiographical Enter Laughing, about being a young TV scriptwriter working on live TV comedy for a showrunner described as "the Ulcer That Walks Like a Man". Forced to write up his ideas just minutes ahead of the performers going in front of the cameras, he found the experience terrifying and exhilarating.

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap By Matt Taibbi - book review: Rich pickings in a captivating tale of two Americas

In Michael Lewis's latest inevitable bestseller, Flash Boys, Lewis tells the sorry tale of Sergey Aleynikov, a talented programmer who was pretty much the only person on Wall Street to go to prison in the wake of the great crash. Aleynikov, Lewis reveals, was helped into custody by former employees Goldman Sachs for emailing himself computer code. His sentence was overturned.

Stags, Hens, and Bunnies, By Dougie Wallace, book review

Blackpool has an unenviable reputation for its stag and hen parties. Every weekend, marauding packs of prospective brides and grooms fill its streets on a mission to consume dangerous levels of alcohol.  Here, Dougie Wallace captures a town heaving with everything from bunnygirls to banana men.

The Planner, By Tom Campbell, book review: A rake’s sketchy progress

Hardly anybody has a good word to say for planning in London. The city is ugly and overcrowded, with dire infrastructure and depressing extremes of wealth and poverty. No wonder Londoners are so often angry.

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