Born OTD in 1925, American Muslim minister & human rights activist who was a popular figure during the civil rights movement, Malcolm Little, AKA Malcolm X. His remarkable autobiography, completed just before his murder in 1965, ranges from Omaha & Michigan to Harlem & Mecca, & tells of a young, disenfranchised man whose descent into drug addition, robbery & prison was only reversed by his belief in the rights struggle for black America, & his conversion to the Nation of Islam. Celebrated & vilified the world over for his courageous but bitter fight to gain for millions of black men & women the equality & respect denied them by their white neighbours, Malcolm X inspired as many people in the United States as he caused to fear him.

They called him the ‘angriest black man in America’ . . . Not only is this an enormously important record … More

Born OTD in 1944, German essayist, writer & academic, W. G. Sebald. At first The Emigrants appears simply to document the lives of four Jewish emigres in the 20th century. But gradually, as Sebald’s precise, almost dreamlike prose begins to draw their stories, the four narrations merge into one overwhelming evocation of exile & loss. Written with a bone-dry sense of humour & a fascination with the oddness of existence The Emigrants is highly original in its heady mix of fact, memory, fiction & photographs.

A concomitant theme is the impact of World War II and the Holocaust on German nationals, particularly on those of … More

Born OTD in 1907, English author & playwright, Daphne du Maurier. Jaded by the numbing politeness of Restoration London, Lady Dona St. Columb revolts against high society. She rides into the countryside, guided only by her restlessness & her longing to escape. But when chance leads her to meet a French pirate, hidden within Cornwall’s shadowy forests, Dona discovers that her passions and thirst for adventure have never been more aroused. Together, they embark upon a quest rife with danger & glory, one which bestows upon Dona the ultimate choice: sacrifice her lover to certain death or risk her own life to save him.

Frenchman’s Creek is the breathtaking story of a woman searching for love and adventure who embraces the dangerous life of … More

Born OTD in 1945, keyboardist best known for his work with the Small Faces & the Faces, Ian McLagan. The band is remembered as one of the most acclaimed and influential mod groups of the 1960s. With memorable hit songs and one of rock’s first concept albums, they later evolved into one of the UK’s most successful psychedelic acts before disbanding in 1969. Lane, Jones and McLagan would later form The Faces with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood.

From the Beginning was the (unofficial) retrospective album released in June 1967. It’s a mix of A-sides, first album outtakes … More

Born OTD in 1904, Spanish Surrealist artist, Salvador Dalí. Genius, eccentric, exhibitionist: there is no shortage of adjectives to describe the great surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Yet this iconic artist and controversial thinker remains a figure shrouded in mystery. Plunging into the Spanish painter’s unbridled, fantastical universe, graphic novelist Edmond Baudoin guides us on the trail of a man known as much for his talent for self-promotion as for his bold and extraordinary work.

He emerges with a convincing personal vision of the man behind the artist. Commissioned by the Pompidou Centre, Paris, Dali … More

Born OTD in 1970, Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker known for her political analyses and criticism of corporate globalization and of capitalism, Naomi Klein. Klein – award-winning journalist, bestselling author of No Logo, The Shock Doctrine & This Changes Everything, scourge of brand bullies and corporate liars – gives us the toolkit we need to survive our surreal, shocking age. ‘This is a look at how we arrived at this surreal political moment, how to keep it from getting a lot worse, and how, if we keep our heads, we can flip the script.’

No Is Not Enough reveals, among other things, that the disorientation we’re feeling is deliberate. That around the world, shock … More

Born OTD in 1818, German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary, Karl Marx. Marx’s Das Kapital cannot be put into a box marked ‘economics’. It is a work of politics, history, economics, philosophy and even in places, literature. This illustrated introduction to the Marxist critique of capitalist production and its consequences for a whole range of social activities such as politics, media, education and religion.

  Das Kapital is not a critique of a particular capitalist system in a particular country at a particular time. … More

Born OTD in 1926, American novelist, Nelle Harper Lee. Lee only published two books, yet she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 for her contribution to literature. The plot and characters of To Kill a Mockingbird are loosely based on Lee’s observations of her family & neighbors, as well as an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936 when she was 10. The novel deals with the irrationality of adult attitudes towards race & class in the Deep South of the 1930s, as depicted through the eyes of two children. It was inspired by racist attitudes in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.

Scout, Jem, Boo Radley, Atticus Finch and the small town of Maycomb, Alabama, are all captured in vivid and moving … More

Born OTD in 1759, English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights, Mary Wollstonecraft. Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft’s life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships at the time, received more attention than her writing. Today Wollstonecraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, and feminists often cite both her life and her works as important influences.

Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th century who believed that women should not receive a … More

Born OTD in 1954, political activist and journalist, Mumia Abu-Jamal. Beginning at the age of 14 in 1968, Abu-Jamal became involved with the Black Panther Party & was a member until October 1970. After he left the party, he completed his high school education, & later became a radio reporter. He eventually served as president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. He supported the MOVE Organization in Philadelphia and covered the 1978 confrontation in which one police officer was killed. The MOVE Nine were the members who were arrested and convicted of murder in that case.

Produced under the auspices of Amnesty International, this is a compact analysis of the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal who had … More