Jeff Sparrow

Jeff Sparrow

is the former editor of Overland.

About Jeff Sparrow

Jeff Sparrow is a writer, broadcaster and editor. His books include No Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson,  Killing: Misadventures in ViolenceMoney Shot: A Journey into Porn and Censorship (2012) and Communism: A Love Story(2007). He is the immediate past editor of Overland; he writes a fortnightly column for the Guardian and works for Melbourne’s 3RRR.


Articles about Jeff Sparrow

No Way But This by Jeff Sparrow book cover

What Ghosts We Might Rise: No Way But This

In writing No Way But This Sparrow seeks to reanimate not only the ghost of Paul Robeson but those of his family, friends and comrades. In other words, this book has an avowedly political goal. It revives Robeson as a model of integrity and bravery – someone who, despite the precarity of his social position, risked his life and career for the ideas of workers’ rights, black liberation, anti-colonialism and international socialism.

Articles by Jeff Sparrow

Book cover for 'How Labour Built Neoliberalism: Australia’s Accord, the Labour Movement and the Neoliberal Project' by Elizabeth Humphrys

Goodbye to All That:
The End of Neoliberalism?

‘Yet labour’s role in the establishment of neoliberalism in Australia marked both the union movement and the ALP, leaving both of them as hollow shells of their former selves.’’

Fascist Creeps

‘For once, the person that will be called a fascist is an actual fascist.’ In the manifesto disseminated before his murderous attack on Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, Brenton Tarrant proclaims openly the political tradition to which he belongs. But what, precisely, does it mean to be an ‘actual fascist’ in the second decade of the twenty-first century? We might tease out an answer through a selection of recent books, most of which take as their key reference point the US presidential election of 2016.

No Friend but the Mountains by Behrouz Boochani

A Place of Punishment: No Friend But the Mountains by Behrouz Boochani

'pro-refugee sentiment within Australia has tended to find institutional expression in particular pockets of liberal sentiment – one of which has been the infrastructure of Australian literature. That’s the context for Boochani’s book, a text that emerges from a scaffolding of literary activism that it itself helped facilitate.'

Paul Robeson The Artist as Revolutionary cover

The Artist as Revolutionary: Remembering Paul Robeson

In this excellent new book, [Horne] identifies Robeson as a neglected precursor to the modern Civil Rights movement.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates Cover

Racism and the Dreamers: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

'Between the World and Me brings a deep engagement with an African American canon usually entirely excluded from the (white) public debate.' Jeff Sparrow reviews Ta-Nehesi Coates’ new book on contemporary America and the visceral experience of racism.

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Moon Made of Cheese: Seveneves
by Neal Stephenson

Jeff Sparrow reviews Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Not entirely innocent: Inside Australia’s Anti-Terrorism Laws and Trials

In its initial response to 9/11, the Australian parliament passed the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2002, creating the offence of ‘engag[ing] in a terrorist attack, a crime punishable by life imprisonment’. It is easy to forget that, at the time, the deeds most commonly associated with the word ‘terrorism’ were already illegal. Bombing, hostage taking, beheadings and the rest of it: prior to 2002, these were all, of course, crimes. But the Terrorism Act 2002 did more than rebrand old offences with the post 9/11 lexicon.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

If it no go so, it go near so: A Brief History of Seven Killings

Understandably, James wants to rescue Marley from the kitsch images of bong hits and tropical holidays, re-situating him as a political player emerging from a particular historical setting. But Marley’s social significance cannot be disentangled from his art. If, as A Brief History of Seven Killings suggests, Marley came to embody a sense that ‘there was this once time when we could’a do it’, it was, first and foremost, through his music.

Dirty Secrets: Our ASIO Files by Meredith Burgmann (editor)

Conceptual slippage: The Spy Catchers & Dirty Secrets

In 1950, ASIO’s Canberra office could record only two telephone lines from the Soviet embassy at any time. By contrast, in a single month in 2013, according to Edward Snowden, the US National Security Agency acquired data from more than 3 billion calls and emails. Perversely, the staggering gulf between then and now makes ASIO’s history more relevant than ever. We do not (and cannot) know what the secret organisation does today, but its record allows us to extrapolate.

Collected Poems: Lesbia Harford by Oliver Dennis (editor)

Render it barely: Collected Poems: Lesbia Harford

Bringing so much writing by an important but under-appreciated Australian poet into the public arena is a major achievement, for which both editor and publisher should be congratulated. It is, however, regrettable that the new volume diminishes Harford’s work with an editorial framing that feels unpleasantly gendered.