Books


February 15, 2011

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.


February 2, 2011

As we watch Egypt rising, questions such as "who has the right to hold power?" come to mind.

Four hundred years ago, Shakespeare addressed this issue in his "Historical Plays." I had the opportunity to interview IU Department of English Professor Linda Charnes on the WFHB Interchange show on Feb. 1, 2011, and we discussed Shakespeare.


December 16, 2010

Wendell Potter, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010, 277 pages, $26.00

“About 45,000 people die in America every year because they have no health insurance. I am partly responsible for some of the deaths making up that shameful statistic.”

Those two sentences open a book by Wendell Potter called Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. Part expose and part memoir of the author’s experience in the health care industry, the book’s as dramatic and suspenseful as a good novel.

An interview with Scott Russell Sanders

October 4, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS -- In his capacity as the 2010 national winner of the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, Scott Russell Sanders spent the day here recently, making the rounds of media outlets. Over lunch, the professor emeritus of English at Indiana University talked about retirement, the culture of books, real wealth and the common good.

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TPH: Which library did you pick to be the beneficiary of the award? [In addition to receiving a $10,000 personal prize, Sanders gets to select a library to receive $2,500.]

SRS: Monroe County Public Library. It’s a great dimension of the award in that it explicitly recognizes the importance of public libraries, the culture of books and what’s involved in nurturing a society where the reading and writing of books is taken seriously. And by books, it doesn’t really matter to me what medium people read in. I distinguish between the nature of the delivery system and what it is that’s being delivered. I will always prefer reading a book to reading something that’s on the screen. But I’m perfectly willing to believe that another person can get as rich an experience from reading the screen -- maybe prefers the screen.

Age of Autism book explores history of mercury and mental disorders

August 15, 2010

Four researchers from government and academia told a panel of U.S. senators on Aug. 3 that exposures to environmental toxins are a likely cause of autism in genetically predisposed individuals.

"ASDs [Autism Spectrum Disorders] could result from a variety of factors, including combinations of genes, environmental exposures and gene-environment interactions," EPA's Assistant Administrator for Research and Development and Science Advisor Paul Anastas said in a written version of his remarks to the Senate Environment and Public Works' Subcommittee on Children's Health.


August 8, 2010

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.


May 23, 2010

After having endured multiple viewings of the PBS documentary "The Vaccine War" and reconstructive surgery on my right knee in recent weeks, I can't say emphatically enough what a breath of sweet, clean oxygen it was to find a copy of Philip and Alice Shabecoff's book Poisoned for Profit in my P.O. box when I got out of the hospital.

The book, the subtitle of which is How Toxins Are Making Our Children Chronically Ill, is no feel-good read, to be sure. Not by any stretch. But it serves as a reminder that there are honest, truth-telling journalists out there who engage their craft the way it's supposed to be engaged.

The Shabecoffs are not stenographers to power, a role the FRONTLINE documentary on vaccines and autism and the mainstream media play so well and so profitably. They're don't regurgitate what experts or focus groups say and call it journalism. No, they seek out, recognize and tell the truth as they find it, as the facts and common sense dictate, despite the fact that their message is one that few humans understandably can, or want to, wrap their heads around.


September 20, 2009

Music and culture critic Jessica Hopper -- consultant for the revered public radio show, This American Life and whose work is regularly featured in publications such as SPIN and LA Weekly -- indulged a diverse Boxcar Books audience on Aug. 28 with readings from her new book The Girls' Guide to Rocking.

A meaty manual on creating, recording and performing music, The Girls' Guide to Rocking is garnering across-the-board praise for its painstaking nuts-and-bolts approach to music and for its expediency to anyone -- not just the adolescent girls it targets -- interested in making it.

Though written in direct, accessible language, the book is impressive in its breadth and scope, and Hopper, a musician herself since age 15, explained that in writing it she drew from her own experiences. "I wrote this book on how to start a band and play and pursue your own interest in music, and a lot of it is culled from my own experiences from being a teenager in a band and growing up as a girl in a band."


August 9, 2009

Gay teens -- gay males, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people -- are four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers. For all youths, those aged 16-24, suicide is the third leading cause of death.

Gay teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual teens. Young gay people in grades 7-12 are twice as likely as straight young people to plan suicide and four times more likely to make a suicide attempt that requires medical care.

Growing up gay is very, very difficult for most people. As Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America reports, gay teenagers are at high risk of developing mental illness because of the "hatred and prejudice that surround them, not because of their inherently gay or lesbian identity orientation." That is the crisis referred to in the book's title.


May 31, 2009

The military is the most sexist institution in the United States.

Helen Benedict's The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq exposes the oppression of women in the armed services.

Women constitute 11 percent of GIs serving in the Middle East today. When The Lonely Soldier went to press, 160,500 women had served in Iraq. Women serve in combat, though not officially. Not since World War II have as many women soldiers died while serving in the armed forces.

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