Previews & Reviews
In the United States today, one in two men and one in three women develop cancer. It's no exaggeration to say that we're in the midst of an epidemic. As of 2003, about 1.3 million people developed cancer each year, and 550,000 of them died of it.
In recent decades the number of Americans developing cancer has risen, while the ability to treat and cure most common cancers has remained pretty much the same.
National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society: Criminal Indifference to Cancer Prevention and Conflicts of Interest, by Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., (Bloomington, Ind.: Xlibris, 2011, 189 pp., paper, $19.99) is a blistering polemic against those two venerable institutions. The ACS and NCI do good work, but they have a seamy side that Epstein exposes in the book.
After years of writing histories and biographies for young readers, Tricia Shapiro found herself in the summer of 2005 in the thick of a direct action campaign against mountaintop removal. She tells that story in Mountain Justice, a compelling close-to-the-ground account of how an unlikely coalition of anarchists and people who live in the Appalachian coal country came together to try to protect these mountains. She lives now on a small farm in the mountains west of Asheville, N.C., and we talked in Asheville one morning in late fall. – cp
So how did you get involved with the Mountain Justice Summer campaign?
Before that campaign began, back in 2004 for something else I was writing I had come across the topic of mountaintop removal and was going to write a small piece about that in another book. And what I was reading about, I could just not quite make sense of, because I grew up in Appalachia – in the northern end of the coalfields in Pennsylvania, and the mountains aren’t huge – and I was reading about these huge mine sites, so I just went down to see if I could make sense of it.
It was the early ‘90s; a friend had encouraged me to come by Bear’s Back Room to hear Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings from Nashville, Tenn. They were on the road, playing their first gig in Bloomington and had yet to make a record. I came late, halfway into the evening. Before I had time to find a seat, I was stopped in my tracks and spent the rest of the night standing in the doorway at the precipice of another time and place in what felt like the early days of country music.
They had it all, the writing and musicianship, and on stage they looked like a Dorothea Lange photograph sprung to life. Gillian, with hair tied back, was wafer thin, in vintage attire. Dave’s shock of dark hair was anchored by sideburns, and he was wearing a dress coat and wrestling a calliope of sounds out of his guitar.
Global climate change is having profound effects on human health.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), by 2020 climate change-induced ground-level ozone, the primary component of smog, will cause millions of respiratory illnesses and thousands of hospitalizations for serious breathing problems, including asthma. The cost will be about $5.4 billion.
Changing Planet, Changing Health: How the Climate Crisis Threatens Our Health and What We Can Do about It, by Paul R. Epstein, M.D., and Dan Ferber (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), probes the topic of climate disruption’s effects on health in depth.
Let's just say that you live near Indianapolis, "the capitol of Big Pharma/the Hartford of the Midwest," and like it, and the people you work and hang with are a big reason why. If so, Ian Woollen's novel Hoosier Life and Casualty is a great read. If you aren't from around here, this is still a disarmingly charming dive through the duck weed of midwesternism. A corporate power struggle thriller, a family saga with love story and a double coming-of-age tale -- all in a tidy volume.
Woollen's lifelong study of the dark side of human behavior has taught him a good deal about the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, the deceitful machinations of ruling-class families and the silly stupidity of young punks. His research into the warmth of the human heart has taught him about the depth of friendship, the glory of love, the hazards of yoga and the satisfaction of singing in church choir.
Some years ago, at a tequila-infused gathering in Boston, an acquaintance recommended I read Don DeLillo's 1985 satire, White Noise. In the intervening years, a number of friends and colleagues have made the same suggestion. Given the novel's setting -- a bucolic but altogether dysfunctional liberal arts college in the American Midwest -- and its jaundiced view of media and technology, I was assured the book would have personal and professional resonance for me. It sure does.
Reading White Noise this summer has been nothing short of revelatory. DeLillo's critique of the dehumanizing effects of mass culture and post-industrial society is chilling, as it is prescient. It's also laugh-out-loud funny. Writing in those halcyon days before e-mail, personalized ringtones and salacious Twitter posts, DeLillo describes the unraveling of the nuclear family, if not the whole of American civilization, on the altar of conspicuous consumption.
Having read a few of Peter Dale Scott’s earlier books, I was looking forward to his new work, American War Machine. I was not disappointed. Published by Roman & Littlefield in late 2010, this book examines a wide-ranging number of covert U.S. operations since World War II and, among other things, demonstrates that many of these operations were intimately connected with, and dependent on, illicit drug trafficking.
Scott previously defined concepts such as deep events, deep politics and the deep state to refer to covert mechanisms that facilitate the strategies of the politically minded rich, a group otherwise referred to as the overworld. Deep events, which Scott defines as those that are “systematically ignored or falsified in the mainstream media and public consciousness,” can be seen as sharing certain features, such as cover-up of evidence and irresoluble controversy over what happened.
There will always be people who want to dam the Grand Canyon, divert the mighty Mississippi or use nuclear bombs to deepen a harbor or level a mountain. And there are people who see no end to the construction of transcontinental superhighways, like I-69. In opposition, there will be those who think these projects are bad ideas. How we decide these issues will depend, to a great extent, on the process that is used. Author Matt Dellinger’s Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway lays out the process by which I-69 became the last great American highway, or how it didn’t.
Dellinger’s history of the I-69 project sprawls from Canada to Mexico, from the late 1980s to the present. He takes an objective look at both sides of the issue with detailed characterization of many of the main players. It took him eight years and thousands of miles of travel from Michigan to Texas and interviews with average citizens, politicians, lobbyists, promoters and opponents of I-69 to compile this story of a dream highway and the nightmare behind that dream.
INDIANAPOLIS -- On Monday, June 21, just a few days shy of his 66th birthday, guitar legend Jeff Beck played a sold-out show at the Egyptian Room of the Murat Theater.
If the rare Indianapolis performance is any indication of how his world tour is going, it's safe to say that Jeff Beck is having the time of his life. And why not? He's on a roll.
In January, Beck won a Grammy Award for his instrumental version of the Beatle's classic "A Day in the Life." Since that time, he's toured with fellow Yardbirds alumnus Eric Clapton; released his first studio recording in seven years, Emotion & Commotion (Atco); and performed a tribute to Les Paul at New York City's intimate Iridium Room, on what would have been the guitar innovator's 95th birthday.
Beck opened Monday night's 90-minute set with a cover of the Billy Cobham's "Stratus." Propelled by Narada Michael Walden's explosive percussion, this number put the enthusiastic crowd on notice: "Fasten your seat belts; you're in for a wild ride."
Use as many low-energy lightbulbs as you like, turn down the thermostat and drive a hybrid car, but whatever you do as an individual -- indeed, the sum of what we all do for the environment --does almost nothing to alleviate the U.S. military's destruction of the earth.
In The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, Barry Sanders writes that like other capitalist institutions, "each military branch ... must grow larger and fatter each year; expansion is the life blood of imperialism." Further, Sanders asserts, "The military can brook limits of no kind whatsoever. ... The Pentagon conducts its business behind very thick and very closed doors. It writes its own rules and either follows them or violates them, depending on the situation."
Almost all "military numbers remain off of official reports, secret and out of sight." Sanders obtained the information he cites in the book by gleaning what he could from "arcane reports" and obscure Web sites belonging to the Department of Defense and Government Accounting Office, plus books and articles.