Monday 7 November 2011

Quotation Station 7 November 2011 - Stephen L Carter on Books

Quotation Station was a series of occasional postings I began elsewhere which, as the name implies was just a place to post various quotations which I though were interesting, humorous, apt or, mainly, just thought-provoking.

I think it`s time to re-incarnate Quotation Station, so here`s one I found earlier today  ;

"Have you ever thought about the importance of books to democracy ? I have in mind not just literacy, or reading, but actual, physical books. I have been giving the matter a lot of thought lately, trying to understand why democracy spread as books spread, not as literacy spread; and why, as books decline, the respect for the opinions of others that lies at the heart of the democratic process also seems to be dying..."

Stephen L Carter , found at , 19 June 2009.

Stephen Carter sounds an interesting figure. An African American academic and expert on American constitutional law, he is a noted newspaper/magazine columnist and social commentator. He is also a best-selling novelist and writes a blog about sport for the Washington Post.  A Christian of liberal leanings, his non-fiction has attracted praise from across the political spectrum.  He has commented "I believe in words. I believe in books. When I write non-fiction I am hoping to persuade. When I write fiction I am hoping only to entertain."

I must admit I know little else about him, but I like his style - I like anyone who refuses to be pigeon-holed and I would applaud him for that alone !

Wednesday 2 November 2011

The Big Hoonaloon Books Bonanza

The Hoonaloon Books 2011 pre-Xmas sale has just begun.

From 1 November 2011 - 27 November 2011, all the books in our listings on ABE  will be discounted by a massive 20% !

During the period in question we will continue to add new titles regularly in the normal way and these also will be discounted.

Please note that this discount only applies to books bought from us via one of the ABE sites (, etc) during the period 1 Nov - 27 Nov 2011, and that the prices currently shown on ABE are already discounted - all you have to do is find the book you want and place you order !

As always, if you have any questions, just ask.

Friday 28 October 2011

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Live and Local - Derbyshire

If anyone wants to read my recent review of a stage adaptation of Robert Tressell`s `The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists`, it was posted earlier today at .

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Bana Congo Review

If anyone would like read my review of a performance by Derby-based Congolese band Bana Congo, it can be found at and was posted earlier today.

Friday 21 October 2011

Commercial Break

I`d be the first to admit I`ve not really been doing this blog justice in recent times. It`s like with so many things, you set off with the best intentions and then real life gets in the way ! I`ll return to updating this blog in the not-too-distant future, but in the meantime, here are a few items from our online shop that may be of interest. We also have a number of related items including books on the anti-apartheid movement, and some publications from MRG, Anti Slavery and Race & Class/Institute of Race Relations.

Hopefully, I`ll find some spare time soon to do more postings.

Saturday 27 August 2011

W E B Du Bois (23 Feb 1868 - 27 Aug 1963)

Once again we come to the anniversary of the death of W E B Du Bois and once again I`m a touch unprepared.

For the moment I think I`ll just take this opportunity to mark the passing of one of the world`s great flawed heroes, and I`ll try to add in a few comments of more substance as soon as I can.

It is, of course, worth noting that The Crisis, the magazine of which he was founding editor, is still going strong after all these years. and can be found at .

Friday 19 August 2011

Exploring Ethiopia In Eastwood

The Rainbow Gallery at Durban House Heritage Centre, Eastwood, Nottingham is currently playing host to an exhibition of photographs of Ethiopia by Alan C Clayden FRPS.

For a review, see my article `Exploring Ethiopia in Eastwood` , posted earlier today at

Monday 27 June 2011

Libraries and Democracy

Staying with the theme of libraries,  here are a couple of articles that I found interesting on the question of libraries ad democracy ;

Ian Clark - Libraries : The Foundation for a Democratic Society, 22 Sep 2010 at .

Anita Sethi - Dispatch from Iraq, 23 May 2011 at

There are, of course, many online sites providing information relating to the future of libraries in the UK and elsewhere, including and  the newly-relaunched .

Monday 13 June 2011

Mr Kennedy Goes to the Library

American Channing Kennedy has attracted some attention with his recent online article, `Libraries Are Part of the Safety Net...`, which appeared online at recently. Colorlines*, which is a new name to me, is a Civil Rights-type organisation and is Mr Kennedy`s employer ( ).

A large part of the reason for the attention his article has attracted is the fact that he has included an interview with his mother, Barbara Jean Walsh, who spent two decades running libraries in small-town America. Her experiences and reminiscences, he argues, have "stark parallels" with the campaigns going on today.

His mother emerges as a very strong person.  I don`t think it would be excessive to describe her as an inspiring person, one  who had to deal with some harsh realities ; she cites the case of one woman attending literacy classes at the library whose husband beat her because he didn`t want her learning to read and write.

In fact, Mr Kennedy  has contributed two articles about libraries to the Colorlines site, `Libraries are Part...` (2 June 2011) and `Is Anyone Fighting for your Town`s Library ?` (5 June 2011).

`Libraries are Part...` has been reproduced at (posted by Lindsay Spangler 7 June 2011 in `education blogs`), and is quoted with an accompanying link by British author Alan Gibbons under the heading `Is This Why Governments Hate Libraries ?` ( 7 June 2011 ) at .

I gather Mr Kennedy`s local library campaign is , whose site is well worth a visit.

I like Channing`s article and, while he doesn`t really seem to need my help, I`m only too happy to bring him to a wider audience to the best of my limited ability.

Should you be interested in other issues affecting Oakland, or campaigns concerning library provision in the UK, you might like to visit You might need to search around a bit, but you should find what you`re looking for if you persevere.

* The phrase `color line` is one associated very much with W E B Du Bois, who popularised the phrase in his book The Souls of Black Folk (1903). For an interesting explanation of his uses of the phrase you might like to search for `color line (civil rights issue)` on Wikipedia. The  very interesting article that appears there shows that Du Bois actually used the phrase three times in that one book, each time with a different meaning, according to context.

Victor S Weeks Okrafo-Smart - Okrafo - Palm Tree Publishing, Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire - 2006 - Signed Copy

Victor S Weeks Okrafo-Smart - Okrafo : Over a Century in the Lives of a Liberated African Family, 1816 - 1930 - Palm Tree Publishers, Cotgrave, Nottingham - 2006

An inhabitant of Nottingham, UK, Victor S Weeks Okrafo-Smart began work on this book after taking early retirement from the Queen`s Medical Centre, even going so far as to take a Master`s Degree in history to learn the skills of historical study.

 He benefited from the advice of Christopher Fyfe, at that time Reader in African History at the University of Edinburgh, who has contributed an introduction to the book. Fyfe states that the book is notable for "bringing to life  the ideas and activities of his family members and, in addition, making a valuable contribution to the historiography of Sierra Leone."

The book can be found at 4077 in our listings.Please note that the title on the cover is given as `Okrafo`, but internally it is given as `Okrafo-Smart Family`, which is the title the way it tends to be refered to within the book trade.

Any questions, just ask. 

Why `webdub` ?

This blog began life as an online tribute to W E B Du Bois, "an eccentric fan`s labour of love" as I called it at the time.

As it happens, my life has changed a lot since I started it and it`s become obvious that I can`t really do justice to the original idea, due to work and family commitments.

I`m a bit reluctant to give up on it altogether, so I`ve decided to go with a slightly different approach, a `wider interests` sort of thing which will sometimes look at the life and times of Du Bois, but will also carry more general articles likely to be of interest to anyone who is also interested in Du Bois. Articles will tend to be shorter and I`ll be making more use of links.

As a general thing, my approach to more topical matters is that I`m not someone who seeks out controversy - there are few things more tiresome than intentional `controversialists` - but I don`t shy away from it either. I may occasionally touch on what I call `real politics`, but I won`t be involving myself in party politics as such, for the simple reason that I`m British and, as is well known, we don`t tend to be fond of politicians !

I will be using this blog periodically to plug books I have for sale, where relevant. I`d have preferred not to do that,  but in these are troubled times we`re living through and we all have to make our accomodations with the world we live in.

Lastly, the new `beyond left or right` tag - which I know is a bit of a cliche - just reflects my personal feeling about the modern world, given that the left has been in sharp retreat ever since I was a teenager (and trust me, it`s a long time since I was a teenager !), but also that, particulary in the OK, we`re living in a world in which the old rules don`t apply.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Manning Marable RIP

As many will be aware, Manning Marable, the author of `W E B DU Bois : Black Radical Democrat`  died recently at the age of 60.

Mr Marable, a noted US academic and campaigner on social issues, had many books and articles to his name. In the UK he had links with the Institute of Race Relations and their periodical Race and Class whilst in the US he was connected with a group known as the Movement for a Democratic Society and took a particular interest in it`s student branch, Students for a Democratic Society. Many of his works and particularly the titles he chose reflected an ongoing pre-occupation with the life of W E B Du Bois and, I suspect, a desire to continue that tradition ( one of his books was entitled `The Crisis of Color and Democracy` and his syndicated column was called `Along the Colour Line`).

Needless to say, I have a much-treasured copy of Black Radical Democrat in my own collection !

I will leave it to others to discuss his career and related activities in greater depth.

Instead, I would like to quote from one of his works, `Black America : Multicultural Democracy in the Age of Clarence Thomas and David Duke`, published in 1992 by Open Media in the Open Magazine Pamphlet Series (Number 16 in that series).

That pamphlet is necessarily dated and in my personal view is in some respects flawed, though certainly well worth a read. I have chosen this particular quote because, while it certainly reflects the author`s politics and to a certain extent his background in academia, it also reflects a deep-seated compassion and commitment that other self-styled radicals would do well to emulate. Dig beyond the slightly dated language and one finds a depth of experience and, in my estimation, an inner strength which seems to me to be wholly admirable. Without wanting to over-egg the pudding, notice how the passage in question comes to life when he draws on his own experiences. I mention all this in advance as I want to give Manning Marable himself the last word ;

"It is unfortunately true that people who are victimized by one form of prejudice or social intolerance sometimes fail to appreciate the oppression of other victims. There are blacks who are unfortunately anti-Semitic, and Jews who are racist ; there are white women who are racist and oppressive to sisters of colour ; there are Latinos who are homophobic and oppressive to gays and lesbians ; there are people of colour who are insensitive to whites who are physically challenged.

Yet for many of us, the experience of oppression gives us some insights into the pain and discrimination of others. I am a scholar of the civil rights movement, and I write about lynching, political franchisement and Jim Crow. But I also lived through this experience. I personally know what it`s like to go to the back of the bus. I know what it is like not to be served at a restaurant. I know what it`s like not to be permitted to sit inside a heated bus terminal, but to be forced to stand outside in the cold. I know what it is like not to be permitted to try on a cap or pair of pants because you are black. When you experience this you can never forget it.   

And I believe that the experience of oppression, if properly understood, can be universalized. Because I have felt the pain of oppression, I can understand and feel the pain of my sisters, victimized by violence, harassment, and sexist discrimination. I can understand the anger of my Jewish sisters and brothers who must confront the hatred and bigotry of the anti-Semite. I can express my sympathy and support for lesbians and gays who experience discrimination because of their sexual preferences."

I had intended to leave it at that, but on reflection, I will close with the words Manning Marable used in the closing paragraphs of `Black America : Muliticultural Democracy...` ;

"If we can believe in the vision of a dynamic democracy in which all human beings...coming (sic) to terms with each other, we can perhaps begin to achieve Martin Luther King`s vision when he said `we shall overcome`."