Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day12Fixed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

A Novel of Football

From Liverpool to Olympus

by RON JACOBS

Last year the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. A team of superstars, castoffs, youngsters and a couple dozen bench players and rookies who stood in when members of the first team were injured, the Red Sox won the World Series. If you don’t like the Red Sox or baseball or sports, please don’t stop reading. This piece isn’t about the Red Sox; it’s about British novelist David Peace’s latest masterpiece, Red or Dead.

I watched or listened to virtually every minute of every Red Sox game in 2013. My fandom consumed three or more hours every day. My housemates, realizing they couldn’t fight it, became fans, too. The story of this team that was supposed to go nowhere became a tale of a team that won it all. Sometimes they won by several runs. Sometimes they won in their very last at bat. The ride up and the ride through the season and the magical period that comes afterwards for those teams good enough, lucky enough to make it–the postseason–was riveting, consuming stuff.

David Peace’s new novel is not about baseball. It’s about a football club in England. Soccer to us Yanks. And, just like he has done with the subject of the 1984 British miners’ strike or murders in the county of Yorkshire and the prefecture of Tokyo, David Peace has captured the emotion, the passion, and the compulsion similar to that which Red Sox fans experienced in 2013. It is the story of a coach, Brian Shankly, whose reputation in British football history exceeds his magnificent record as manager of the Liverpool football club.

It is also a novel about obsession. To be specific, about the obsession sports enables. It is a novel about a manager obsessed with his sport and his team. It is a novel about a city obsessed with its sports team. It is also a testament to the author’s own obsession with soccer and the passions it breeds. A passion that in its best moments provides an exhilaration and joy unlike any other. A passion that can, in its worst moments, provoke violence and hatred. It is a passion perhaps only imitated by the passion war can provide; although it is without the unreasonable sacrifice war requires from those citizens sending their children to fight one.Red or Dead

The time period Red or Dead encompasses is a time that saw the dying British Empire fade further into the dustbin of history. The reality of the changes wrought by World War Two was part of British daily life. Although Labor was still a working person’s party, the Tory influence was well on its road to taking over; it was also on its way to taking British politics in a rightward direction destined to destroy any hope working people might have of maintaining their unions and their power. The election of Edward Heath midway through the story of Liverpool Football Club told in these pages was but a hint of that future. Maggie Thatcher (who wins her first election near the book’s end) and her ilk would propel the rise of the ruling and corporate elite forever to the top in the decades to come, destroying the British working class in the process. Tony Blair would merely put a Labor Party face on Thatcher’s farce.

Mostly, Red or Dead is the fictionalized biography of one of Liverpool Football Club’s greatest managers. His name was Bill Shankly. Like Brian Clough, the subject of Peace’s other sports novel The Damned United; Shankly’s story is closer to legend than to mere biography. It is fitting that a novel would be the best vehicle to tell the man’s story. In a time when heroes are rare–and untainted ones even rarer–Shankly is one such man. According to Peace’s fiction, he managed his club for the fans, not for money. Furthermore, he insisted his players play for the team and for the club’s supporters, not for the gold. In a time when British football was quickly transitioning from a reasonably paid profession into a well-paid profession, Shankly kept his mind on the team and not on his bank account. Like the capitalist world itself, football players were considering their worth in Pounds Sterling instead of goals scored or goals prevented. One only wonders what Shankly’s ghost thinks of the entire sporting world today, where millions of dollars are paid out to athletes and managers—whose only allegiance is to the gold owners throw at them. Shankly was repelled by the greed shown in the game during his tenure, having always considered himself a socialist who played for love of the game and a decent paycheck, but never just for the riches that many believe have poisoned the very essence of sport.

David Peace’s prose reminds me of an album by The Clash. There is a spareness of language combined with a simplicity of language. This composite creates a rhythm that sometimes dances and sometimes pounds. When absorbed from the page or record album, the reader or listener becomes wholly engaged with the creation these elements have become. David Peace’s novels push the idea of the novel to a place only the best novelists reach. Red or Dead is a prose poem to football, to the contests we engage in; to those who live and die with the fates of the games those contestants play; and to the men and women who manage and coach these athletes because their lives depended on their success. His writing takes a simple game, the egos and effort that go into playing that game, the men who play it, and lifts the entire enterprise to the heavenly place populated by the heroes of Olympus.

Ron Jacobs is the author of the just released novel All the Sinners, Saints. He is also the author of  The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden.  His third novel All the Sinners Saints is a companion to the previous two and is due out in April 2013.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press.  He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.