Reviews - What do customers think about No Retreat: The Secret War Between Britain's Anti-Fascists and the Far Right?
An interesting insight into an unknown part of British history Sep 16, 2007
This book covers a little know period of British history. While many are aware of the 'battle of Cable Street' when London's Jewish community and left wing groups prevented the fascist blackshirts from marching few know about a dedicated group who were determined to continue this tradition with a simple message. No marches, no paper sales, no quarter to fascism.
The book begins with the groups origins in the late 70s during the fight against the Neo-Nazi National Front. How they were expelled/left the Anti Nazi League due to them being thought of as 'squadist' and for some, no better than the Fascists themselves in their use of violence and how they went on to form Anti Fascist Action.
The book mostly covers their battles with the National Front in the North West of England in and around greater Manchester (where the author comes from) How they took on Fascist supporters amongst the Manchester City supporters (Though it does point out that there were many amongst City who supported the Anti Fascist cause and it was black members of City's firm who eventually took sides with the Anti Fascists to take out the far right on their terraces) to later protecting left wing and republican protests in London.
It also covers some dramatic battles with both Combat 18 (exposing the myth to a large extent about them being some kind of invincible force) blood and honour and Skerwdriver, the musical mouthpiece of Neo Nazis. Some of the most dramatic events are the 'main event' and the battle of Waterloo where AFA broke the back of the far right on UK streets. It is also worth noting that it points out the overwhelming support that the hooligan firm the Chelsea Headhunters gave to the far right (It also mentions members of other firms such as the Oldham irregulars who were Neo Nazi supporters, something that was later proven during the Oldham riots)
While the book at times does have a hint of typical 'hooligan books' popular these days (Soul Crew, Terrace Legends etc) The book is well written though covers little of AFA political beliefs (aside from support for republicanism) The fact that they were prepared to put themselves on the line for something they believed in (not least in defence of minorities and some may say, democracy itself) is something to be commended.
This would be an excellent book to go along with "When We Touched The Sky" Which covers the history of the ANL in the late 70s. This book is something of a continuation where they left off.
Exaggerated, and at times tedious, but occasionally fun! Mar 14, 2006
The book follows two generations of Trotskyite activists in the North West of England as they travel round the country merrily booting the hell out of any fascists they come across.
I'm not normally a fan of hooli-fan literature. But the protagonists in this one don't smash up continental town centres for a laugh. They confine themselves to beating up their enemies whenever and wherever they can. While I don't condone these activities in any way, or support the politics of the authors, it's hard to feel any sympathy for NF thugs getting ambushed while trying to stir up trouble by marching through a mainly black estate. If you need a bit of blokey adrenalin in your life, but can't stand the thought of ever sympathysing with the Chelsea Headhunters, you'll probably enjoy this.
The big upside: it does give some interesting first hand accounts of the undercover work behind Red Action. The downsides: it can get a bit tedious - "I was jumping on a fash's head while Nads wrapped a bicycle chain round some bonehead's crotch" repeats after a while. And at times they undoubtedly do talk up their "victories" - but that's only to be expected. And at times like Lewisham in 1977 and Waterloo in 1992, they really did have big victories.
Of course, as the BNP are back bigger than ever they didn't win the war.
All in all, I've read a lot worse, but it's not going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.