Born OTD in 1934, Cuban-born Jamaican ska & reggae trombonist, Emmanuel “Rico” Rodriguez. Rodriguez was born in Havana, Cuba, & at an early age moved with his family to Jamaica. He grew up there in Kingston, and was taught to play the trombone by his slightly older schoolmate Don Drummond at the Alpha Boys School. He recorded with producers such as Karl Pitterson, Prince Buster, and Lloyd Daley. He was known as one of the first ska musicians. Beginning in the 1960s, he worked with The Members, The Specials, Jools Holland, and Paul Young.

Behind Jamaica’s musical reverberation lies the unlikely story of a boarding school run by Roman Catholic nuns and a brass … More

Born OTD in 1854, Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. In Praise of Disobedience draws on works from a single miraculous year in which Wilde published the larger part of his greatest works in prose the year he came into maturity as an artist. Before the end of 1891, he had written the first of his phenomenally successful plays & met the young man who would win his heart, beginning the love affair that would lead to imprisonment & public infamy. In a witty introduction, playwright, novelist & Wilde scholar Neil Bartlett explains what made this point in the writer’s life central to his genius and why Wilde remains a provocative and radical figure to this day.

Included here are the entirety of Wilde’s foray into political philosophy, The Soul of Man Under Socialism; the complete essay … More

Born OTD in 1908, Canadian-born economist, public official, and diplomat, John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith’s international bestseller The Affluent Society is a witty, graceful and devastating attack on some of our most cherished economic myths. As relevant today as when it was first published over 60 years ago, this newly updated edition of Galbraith’s classic text on the ‘economics of abundance’, lays bare the hazards of individual and social complacency about economic inequality. Why worship work and productivity if many of the goods we produce are superfluous – artificial ‘needs’ created by high-pressure advertising? Why begrudge expenditure on vital public works while ignoring waste and extravagance in the private sector of the economy? Classical economics was born in a harsh world of mass poverty, and has left us with a set of preconceptions ill-adapted to the realities of our own richer age.

And so, too often, ‘the bland lead the bland’. Our unfamiliar problems need a new approach, and the reception given … More

Formed OTD in 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a revolutionary political organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in Oakland, California. “A crowd of onlookers gawked from the pavement as four young black men dressed in black leather jackets and berets leapt from a Volkswagen, each of them wielding shotguns with bandoliers strapped across their bodies. The young men surrounded two white police officers who had accosted a black man & had him spread-eagled against a building. The young men did not say a word as the police officers watched them nervously, their eyes fixed on the shotguns. One of the young men held a large law book in his hand…This was the Black Panther Party in ideal action. The real story – the whole story – was both more and less heroic.”

So begins Black Panthers for Beginners. The late 1960s, when the Panthers captured the imagination of the nation’s youth, was … More

Born OTD in 1906, German-American philosopher and political theorist, Hannah Arendt. A hero of political thought, the largely unsung and often misunderstood Hannah Arendt is perhaps best known for her landmark book, The Origins of Totalitarianism. Arendt led an extraordinary life. Having endured Nazi persecution firsthand, she fled across Europe, coming to live in a world inhabited by such luminaries as Marc Chagall, Marlene Dietrich, Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud.

She ultimately sacrificed her unique genius for philosophy and her love of a much-compromised man – the philosopher and Nazi-sympathiser … More

Born OTD in 1939, Australian investigative journalist and BAFTA award-winning documentary film maker, John Pilger. Pilger is a strong critic of American, Australian and British foreign policy, which he considers to be driven by an imperialist agenda. Pilger has also criticised his native country’s treatment of Indigenous Australians.

Tell Me No Lies is a celebration of the very best investigative journalism, and includes writing by some of the … More

Born OTD in 1927, Scottish psychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental illness – in particular, the experience of psychosis, R. D. Laing. Laing’s views on the causes and treatment of psychopathological phenomena were influenced by his study of existential philosophy and ran counter to the chemical and electroshock methods that had become psychiatric orthodoxy.

Laing’s radical approach to insanity offered a rich existential analysis of personal alienation and made him a cult figure in … More

Born OTD in 1947, rocksteady singer, arranger, and radio presenter, Hopeton Lewis. “Hopeton Lewis’ classic tune, ‘Take It Easy’, is credited with being the first to employ the rocksteady rhythm in 1966. The song featured Lynn Taitt on guitar and his band the Jets on backup”.

Operation Jump Up is the culmination of four years of research. The detailed historical narrative features dozens of interviews with … More

Born OTD in 1952, author and professor, feminist & activist, Gloria Jean Watkins, AKA, bell hooks. The focus of hooks’ writing has been the intersectionality of race, capitalism, and gender, and what she describes as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination. In this classic study, cultural critic bell hooks examines how black women, from the 17th century to the present day, were and are oppressed by both white men and black men and by white women. Illustrating her analysis with moving personal accounts, Ain’t I a Woman is deeply critical of the racism inherent in the thought of many middle-class white feminists who have failed to address issues of race and class.

While acknowledging the conflict of loyalty to race or sex is still a dilemma, hooks challenges the view that race … More

Born OTD in 1866, English author, writing dozens of novels, short stories, and works of social commentary; and often referred to the ‘father of science fiction’, H.G. Wells. ‘The War of the Wolrds’ is one of the earliest stories to detail a conflict between mankind and an extraterrestrial race. The novel is the first-person narrative of both an unnamed protagonist in Surrey and of his younger brother in London as southern England is invaded by Martians.

At the turn of the nineteenth century, a group of friends listen to the adventures of a man who claims … More