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Books US ‘back-yardism’ scrutinised

A good old-fashioned spy yarn in the tradition of Graham Greene’s classic Our Man in Havana, opines ROGER McKENZIE

With One Hand Waving Free
Ken Fuller
Independently published, £12.99

 

KEN FULLER’S book With One Hand Waving Free is a good old-fashioned spy yarn in the tradition of Graham Greene’s classic Our Man in Havana, but with a clear left-wing bias.

The story revolves around the fictional Caribbean island of Arawak. As someone who has a lineage to the region, after my ancestors were stolen from Africa, the choice of name by Fuller is significant.

The Arawak were the aboriginal people of Jamaica and many other parts of the Caribbean. They are thought to be the first native group that the pirate explorer and murderer Christopher Columbus encountered during his invasion of what has now become known as the US. The Arawak were enslaved before being virtually wiped out by the invaders.

The hero of the story, Roger Drummond, is drawn to the island and then, into what seems to be normal for this genre, a torrid love affair while surrounded by spying skulduggery.

Babylon central’s Central Intelligence Agency provides the spying villainy. As always the CIA is intent on bringing down the democratically elected left wing government that has just been elected in Arawak.

While there are definite shades of the US campaign to bring down the New Jewel Movement on the Caribbean island of Grenada, it doesn't really matter because the book stands on its own about how a revolutionary movement struggles in America’s “backyard.”

The book is littered with strong left-wing messages throughout and maps the political development of Drummond as he reads works such as Kwame Nkrumah’s Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism.

A growing attraction to left-wing politics might be OK for most people but Drummond was working for a company seeking to make lots of money out of selling medical equipment to Third World countries.

The plot twists and turns as the US attempts to overthrow the newly elected Arawak national government and the way they persuade Drummond to help them do it are straight from the playbook of the CIA.

Importantly Fuller cites veteran Jamaican socialist Trevor Munroe and his criticisms of the “constitutional decolonisation” in the Caribbean rather than the actual severance of control by the former colonial powers.

This is a question which has dogged Third World or Global South nations attempting to throw off the yoke of colonialism, and it is ironic that the book title appears to be taken from the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s Mr Tambourine Man.

If you are a fan of spy fiction and want a good read that approaches the genre from a left viewpoint and doesn’t try to hold the US up as some sort of beacon of goodness and light, you will enjoy this book.

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