Books


April 21, 2012

Van Jones said in Rebuild the Dream, "For millions of people the thrill of seeing Barack Obama beat the odds to become president of the United States was one of [the] most exciting and uplifting experiences of our lives. The feelings of joy, hope, and anticipation were heady and unforgettable."

If he's going to win the 2012 presidential election, Obama will have to win back the support of many of his 2008 followers who became disgusted by his policies and actions, many of which have flouted promises he made as a candidate. In the 55 brief chapters in Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion editors Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank list some of them. They include his:

Former Obama advisor outlines grassroots strategies in Fox News era

April 7, 2012

Anyone whom Glenn Beck considers an anarchist radical, a black liberation theologian, a black nationalist and an avowed communist is clearly someone with a story worth hearing. And former Barack Obama advisor Van Jones, whom Beck drove from the White House with relentless, racist, red-baiting attacks in 2009, is telling his now.

Obama's former "green jobs czar" has written a new book titled Rebuild the Dream and took his message to MoveOn and Democracy Now! audiences on April 3, the day before the book's release, the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination.

"Ultimately, this book is just the prologue to what comes next," he wrote in an email to MoveOn members. "… America is not broke. We are a rich nation, and we can do much better than we are doing. We need a game plan for victories now and in the years to come."

ACI, NCS represent Big Pharma's interests, not the public's

March 17, 2012

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.

Author Hoerger discusses plots against Castro, Hampton, Rosenbergs

March 15, 2012

The CIA has made 638 attempts on Fidel Castro's life since the beginning of the Cuban revolution. One entailed poisoning a chocolate milkshake with a cyanide pellet.

The milkshake attempt on the Cuban leader's life is but one of the incidents that author Michael Hoerger reported in a presentation called "Edible Secrets: A Food Tour of Classified U.S. History" at Boxcar Books in Bloomington on March 7. The basis of the presentation is a book by the same name that Hoerger wrote with Mia Partlow (Bloomington, Ind.: Microcosm Press, 2010, 127 pp., $10, ediblesecrets@gmail.com).

November 18, 2011

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.


August 5, 2011

Imprisonment in this country means “systematic torture, endemic corruption, pervasive racial and class bias, the failure of the war on drugs, and the massive economic and social devastation it wreaks upon entire communities,” in the words of Black Agenda Report managing editor Bruce A. Dixon, writing on July 20.

Imprisonment can be a collection of abstractions to someone who hasn’t spent time incarcerated, but a new memoir describes the day-to-day, and sometimes minute-by-minute, existence of the incarcerated: Marshall “Eddie” Conway and Dominique Stevenson, Marshall Law: The Life and Times of a Baltimore Black Panther (Oakland: AK Press, 2011).


July 18, 2011

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.


July 4, 2011

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.


June 10, 2011

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.


April 25, 2011

Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance is a book about the power struggle between humans and nonhuman animals in captivity. Only when humans succeed in dominating the animals totally – sometimes by killing them -- does this struggle end.

But according to Jason Hribal, author of the book, the animals fight back.

“[T]rough my research,” Hribal writes, “the resistance became ever more evident. Captive animals escaped their cages. They attacked their keepers. They refused to perform. They refused to reproduce. The resistance itself could be organized.”

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