Tag: book review

Book Review: Brown and Garver’s Right Relationship

Recent events have made it somewhat evident that the current system of global governance is inadequate for the problem of abrupt climate change.  A suggestion that is slowly becoming more popular is that of a new system of global governance, and so this is a review of Peter G. Brown and Geoffrey Garver’s (2009) book Right Relationship: Building A Whole Earth Economy. Right Relationship is, to a significant extent, a “Quaker” outline for the reconcilement of economy with ecology; meaningfully, its transformative suggestions do seem quite apropos of the need for post-capitalist environmental design.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Foreign relations from the egg: Nomads, Empires, States

This diary is a book review of Kees van der Pijl’s (2007) work on “foreign relations,” Nomads, Empires, States.  Van der Pijl argues that the field of “foreign relations” must be rethought, and doing this will allow us to see why relations between nation-states are only one mode of foreign relations, and not necessarily the most important one in this era.  Rethinking foreign relations, then, we should be able to understand why the regime of “global governance” has failed to triumph in a world without endemic warfare between nation-states.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Book Review: Environmentalism in Popular Culture

This is a review of Noel Sturgeon’s (2009) Environmentalism in Popular Culture, an interesting book of feminist cultural criticism.  Environmentalism in Popular Culture offers the most readily-accessible critique of an American mythology of the environment that I’ve read yet.  Though it makes some rather quick connections between its identity politics categories and environmental analysis, it maintains the reader’s interest throughout.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Do the (Chinese) math: A review of Minqi Li’s “The Rise of China”

This will be a book review of Minqi Li’s “The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy,” a book which is important for its calculation of the rising contradiction between capitalist growth and ecological sustainability, and for its perspective on Chinese history.  

Li’s prose is clear and understandable, and his use of graphs and charts really drives his points home rather than (as is the case with some economic writing) confusing the reader.  In this review, I will look at Li’s book with one eye upon a conference I have volunteered with Focus the Nation to help organize.  Li will be the keynote speaker at the FtN conference at USC.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Book Review: A People’s History of the World

To celebrate the revolutionary spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I’ve decided to look at a newer volume; Chris Harman’s A People’s History of the World.  This newer book takes off from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, which indeed covered the particular impacts of people’s movements (including the one participated in by King) throughout American history.  A People’s History of the World, unfortunately, has to cover far too much ground far too quickly, and so Harman puts out a series of historical explanations which follow his script too closely, and thus misses a lot of the content of people’s history.

A People’s History of the World is nevertheless a fun read which ought to stoke some anti-capitalist fires in the hearts of readers, even if it doesn’t do so thoroughly.  My review will conclude by discussing the import, to activists, of the issues Harman brings up.

Sing C. Chew: ecology, history, and the future

This is, in short, a book review of Sing C. Chew’s new book Ecological Futures: what history can teach us.  Chew is important because he wants to incorporate ecological data into historical discussions of the rise and fall of civilizations; his most recent book attempts to use this “ecologized” version of history to make a solid (if somewhat scary) prediction about the future of the human race.  Chew doesn’t mean to scare us, however; what’s scary are the implications of his naturalistic point of view when it comes around to analyze the disastrous course our civilization has taken in its relations to the natural world.

I will end with a short set of prognostications of my own, related to reflections in the book review.

SING C. CHEW is Associate Professor of Sociology at Humboldt State University and editor of the Humboldt Journal of Social Relations.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Radical Teaching and NCLB: Hursh’s “High-Stakes Testing”

This is a short review of David Hursh’s High-Stakes Testing and the Decline of Teaching and Learning.  Hursh’s book is important because it achieves three important aims: 1) to detail how the personal and the political intertwine at the level of schools and schooling, 2) to show how standards-based reform is based on an economic agenda, namely neoliberalism, and 3) to show that alternatives to neoliberal schooling are possible in all respects and that such alternatives can be created by politically-organized parents and teachers.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

The Vermont solution: Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy

(crossposted on Big Orange)

This is a new review of Bill McKibben’s book of last year, Deep Economy, from a critical-theory perspective; it’s informed by a fair reading of McKibben’s opus, observance of a recent speaking appearance by the author, and a reading of his DKos diaries.

There are a lot of citations of Bill McKibben on DKos; kudos to hof1991 for an oh-so-brief review, and to Gmoke for his 350 ppm or bust diary.  And of course to Bill McKibben himself.

posted on Flickr by lollyknit

There is another way: “The Politics of Money”

This is a review of Hutchinson, Mellor, and Olsen’s The Politics of Money, a critique of the money system that contains lots of good material, especially insofar as the authors’ discussion of the money system can be used to debunk the Republican dross about the sacredness of capitalism, but also insofar as the authors suggest a number of alternatives to the money system we currently have.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Uprising of Hope: An Ethnography of Zapatismo

This is my take on Duncan Earle and Jeanne Simonelli’s (2005) book Uprising of Hope, an ethnography of the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico.  I conclude by suggesting that there are political lessons to be learned from Zapatistas, especially insofar as they go about their everyday lives.

(original photo taken by “Alma_Roma”, San Cristobal de las Casas, August 12, 2006.)

Zapatistas, Wikimedia public domain

(Now crossposted at Big Orange!)

Book Review: The Environmentalism of the Poor

This is a book review of Joan Martinez-Alier’s 2002 classic “The Environmentalism of the Poor.”  This is a book about the history of environmentalism that tries to fit the struggles of native peoples into that history.  

My last review was of a recently-published biography of Sup Marcos, the EZLN (Zapatista) figure; my next review will to a certain extent integrate the insights of Zapatismo into Martinez-Alier’s framework.  This, to a certain, extent, forms the knowledge background for my interest in people’s movements (centered on, but not exclusive to, peasant movements) as a counterweight to the environmental predations of the mainstream of capitalist industry.

(Crossposted at Big Orange)

“1 Dead In Attic…..

After Katrina” is a haunting, evocative chronicle by Chris Rose, through his Times-Picayune columns, of his own life and that of a New Orleans not only struggling to recover but to survive. Not in chronological order but arranged by theme, the columns start with Sept. 1, 2005 and end with Dec. 31, 2006.

As he often speaks for a Louisiana in pain, Rose eloquently describes not only the surrealness of her post-Katrina landscape but also some intriguing, often eccentric characters he meets in his beloved city and his own descent into the private hell of depression–and that of those around him. “1 Dead In Attic” should be required reading for anyone who wants to know what life in New Orleans after what Rose often calls “the Thing” was, and still is, like from the inside.

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