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A Climate of Crisis: Been meaning to read Alperovitz's America Beyond Capitalism: Daly wrote a short book, God and the Welfare State, on Bush's faith-based initiative. Not sure what their analysis is, but my own take is that the rich are mostly lucky beneficiaries of market imperfections -- unwanted inefficiencies.
They may be impossible to eliminate, but basing a social system on their self-perpetuation is a formula for disaster. What Then Must We Do? Historian -- the first to take a look at what the Hiroshima bombing meant for US-Soviet diplomacy -- but by now perhaps even better known for exploring the limits of conventional capitalism in America -- cf. Especially interested in worker-owned companies, cooperatives, etc.
The Age of Oversupply: Contends "the invisible hand is broken" by an "oversupply of labor, productive capacity, and capital relative to the demand for all three.
Not sure what an investment banker like Alpert wants to do about that, but demand could be increased by more equitable income distribution, and oversupply of labor can be reduced by increasing leisure time which, if adequately supported, would also help out on the demand front.
Something to bone up on: Paul Krugman has argued how important it is for a Democrat winning the election to push critical legislation through in the new administration's first days. I suppose someone could do a comparative analysis for Democrats -- Clinton sure blew his first days, digging a hole that he never climbed out of. In any case, this year is the best prospect we've had in a long time for a Roosevelt-level tsunami. In any case, the history should be inspirational.
Author wrote a previous book on FDR's first days amidst tough times, so it must have seemed like a good idea to see how Obama fared under comparably difficult circumstances.
There are too many differences to make the analogy work -- FDR came to Washington determined to try all sorts of things and both parties were in such a state of shock that he met with little opposition, while Obama came seeking only to fix what used to work and ran into a buzzsaw of partisan rancor and Tea Party nihilism.
Thought this might be one of those "centrist" tomes that balances loathing for the left against a few nitpicks with the right, but turns out this is just a campaign book, a recap of the election, where Obama's centrism worked because the right went crazy. Alter's previous books were on FDR's days and on the days he hoped Obama would have inso figure he's been disabused of some illusions.Neither You or I - Tom Appleman
Barack Obama paperback,Nation Books: Liberal columnist, tries to present a case that Obama's post-election turn to the right is the fault of a system that is deeply and intractably conservative. That may be true, to a point, but it isn't very reassuring: One of the few political writers who remains an unapologetic, unreconstructed, proud liberal -- cf.
One problem is that so many of his exemplars, not least the current president but also his first, have a checkered history, sometimes a mix of illiberal beliefs, sometimes just a willingness to chuck principle for political opportunism. Focuses on Bush's tax cuts and efforts to trim programs like social security. I wouldn't bother mentioning this futuristic speculation except that Altman previously wrote Neoconomy: I'm not sure what else you can call it but insane.
They cannot grasp that eight years or conservatives in the White House and sixteen in command of Congress created one disaster after another; they can't imagine ever losing; they especially can't imagine losing to Obama. Inside the Government Secrecy IndustryWiley: Several obvious questions here: And how much of what they knew has been obsoleted by Snowden's revelations? I don't doubt that anyone who cared to look could have found various pieces of what the NSA has been up to, and this may help to understand it all.
But most likely we're still far from understanding it all, so this and similar books are far from definitive. I notice that Amazon wants to bundle this with Mark Mazzetti: The World Is a Battlefield -- two other key pieces to the puzzle. The Health Care Revolution: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: A history of random massacres in the American workplace, symptomatic of something more than the occasional loose hinge.
A bit dated, especially at the post pace, which doesn't make it any less relevant. Focus here is on how the US changed from a relatively benevolent source of development aid "heaven" to a considerably more malign one "hell". I'm curious about how that maps to the political and economic changes within the US. Curious but not likely to be very surprised. Big picture history of America, strikes me as like one of those creative writing assignments meant to let your imagination run wild -- probably helps that the author has a couple of novels to his credit.
Still, shouldn't be hard to fill up pp. Nor has the election and regime of Donald Trump given us reason to doubt that we're living in a Fantasyland. Trump A So-Called Parody. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism Verso, paperback. Flips the tables on complaints of "black rage" in response to recent police shootings of unarmed blacks to point out the long history of intemperate rage and resistance of whites at every advance of civil rights since the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery.
The Dominion of War: Michael Lind's Made in Texas: George W Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics is probably the most convincing Bush book I've read thus far, and this seems to be along those lines. Bush and his Texas political cronies managed to take over the Republican national machine, suddenly pushing the country far right.
The more behind the money behind the better. The New Old WorldVerso: New Left Review editor and historian, surveys Europe after the Cold War, a time when Europe is widely presumed to have come into its own, but still habitually follows US foreign policy, no matter how benighted which under Bush, in particular, was pretty far gone.
Every decade or two someone returns to T. Lawrence for further confirmation of the insights they've finally tuned into after further mayhem in the Middle East, yet they always miss the basic point: Bush's WarsOxford University Press: An attempt at a big view synthesis of Bush's seven-year war path, plus a bit more on Obama's prosecution of same, but at pp he'll also have to boil a lot down.
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Billed as a "balanced history," that also means he'll have to tidy up the manifest failures of policies that could hardly have been more deranged. New York Times economics writer, but mainly qualified for wiping his savings out by buying into a mortgage he couldn't afford. Could be a cautionary tale about the fickle press, but doesn't seem to be that smart, even in retrospect.
Natalie Angier, The Canon: A general book on science and what it means to think about. I bought a copy of this recently as a gift for a niece who asked me for recommended readings on science. I was impressed, delighted even, by the few pages I read in the store.
A journalist surveys the surveillance nation -- not just the NSA but your phone company and Google too -- senses that the response to surveillance will be self-censorship to the point of losing freedom, and tries to figure out ways to cope, even to carve out some measure of privacy. The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth paperback,New Society: Asks why people aren't happier given the amount of economic growth that has occurred since the s.
Economists are good at promoting growth because they have some idea how to measure it. If they could only measure happiness, they might be able to promote it as well.
This is an idea that's been floating around for a while, even showing up on the political right in Arthur C Brooks: I'm not sure that happiness, even if you can somehow quantify it, is the right measure, but we need something more than money, because there is more to life than just money. The Conservatives Have No Clothes: Not sure if this passes my criteria -- I have a copy on my desk, and meant to get to it next until a couple of other books got in the way -- but it deserves a mention anyway.
The right spent all that time market testing ideas to use as tools to seize power and came up with a bunch of things that sound good but just flat out don't work. This is a catalog. Looks like a fairly straightforward history of Islam, occasionally glancing out at the other world, which becomes more problematic when the other world encroaches. Princeton philosophy professor, originally from Ghana, sketches out four cases where widely held moral views shifted over time, tied to changing codes of honor: General history, touting the culture of capitalism as well as the economics.
Big general history of capitalism, going back to early industrialization and up to the financial crisis, attributed to deregulation. In the s we were brought up to believe that America was a force for good in the world. The Vietnam War destroyed that self-conception -- at least it did for me and for many of my generation. Appy's brief history reminds us of how dirty the war got -- he starts with a story of GIs playing "gook hockey" using Jeeps to run down Vietnamese children -- and reminds us how even LJB but especially Nixon and Kissinger extended the war beyond any hope of success, just to show the world their resolve, to demonstrate how much punishment we could inflict even in defeat.
The book goes on to look at how the postwar memory has been sanitized, not least the propagation of a myth that the war was lost not by our brave soldiers but by the cowardly antiwar movement -- America's own Dolchstosslegende as with Germany's, a license to resume further wars.
Worse than defeat, America seems to have learned nothing from Vietnam. With this book, at least, you might learn something. Appy previously wrote Patriots: Interesting question, but this sounds like a piece of economic rationalization in service of the status quo. I have several rough theories, but not enough facts to judge them against. Design Like You Give a Damn: Orange County Weekly columnist, fields questions, sprays them to all fields. No idea how useful or informative or, for that matter, funny, this is, but what do I know?
Book shows up in economics sections, where its critique of rational actors can do the most damage. Don't know how predictable they are, or what to make of it. The FreedomWorks astroturfers come out of the shadows to stake their claim on the tea party movement. They certainly feel entitled, although there are other pretenders to the throne, like Joseph Farah: Official Tea Party Handbook: Paying for the Party: Focuses on women, tracking their various paths through higher education, where they find that "the dominant campus culture indulges the upper-middle class and limits the prospect of the upwardly mobile.
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A History of God: The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism paperback,Ballantine. Karen Armstrong, The Great Transformation: About the only writer I trust when it comes to sorting out the historical roots of religions. I have a rough idea of how The Bible was put together over hundreds of years, especially the New Testament, but this should be the essential reference to settle, or at least frame, it all.
Short discourse on how the book came to be. The Case for GodKnopf: Probably the best recent writer on the history and historical abuse of religion, she's long hinted that she sees religion as a deep-felt human need.
Most likely that's her case, and the history will, once again, be impeccable. Religion and the History of ViolenceKnopf: One of the better writers on the history of religion, a Christian but not limited thereby.
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Her thesis in The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions was that the religions that emerged in the first millennium BCE as well as Greek rationalism were developed primarily to limit and control violence, so it isn't surprising that she argues that wars today are not driven primarily by religion. I see the point, and recognize that religion provides a framework that supports many pacifists, but I doubt that would be my conclusion. Mills was the most influential sociologist of his generation, at least on left-oriented students of my generation, so Aronowitz is well positioned to look both at what Mills did and what we made of him.
The Death and Life of American Labor: The "death" part is an old story, so what about the "life" part? Or the "new" bit? Why America Needs a New Kind of Labor MovementNew Presswhich has some specific ideas on things that can be done to breathe new life into the labor movement, but I don't see what Aronowitz has up his sleeve.
I do recall his early book, False Promises: The Shaping of American Working Class Consciousnessand know that he's been working this issue for most of his life, both as scholar and activist. After the Spanish-American Warafter the long bloody fight to put down the Filipino independence movementa group of Muslims fought on against the American colonizers. This is their story.
The Logic of WithdrawalHenry Holt, paperback. Originally published innow "fully updated and with a new introduction": Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century paperback,Verso: Substantial pp book on China's tryst with capitalism, from a late Italian Gramscian who takes the long view -- another recently reprinted book is called The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power and the Origins of Our Times.
Too Good to Be True: Author reportedly wrote the first critical article on Madoff. Anatomy of a City paperback,Penguin: Textbook on materials science.
I used to buy things like this just for occasional reference. This is a subject that still fascinated me, and looks like a good one. Water and Life on the High Plains paperback,Countryman. No Got but God: How to Win a Cosmic War: Author previously wrote No God but God: Not sure how that plays out here where Jihadism is one aspect both of Islam and politics, and the US anti-terror warriors have trouble understanding either.
Wrote one of the more accessible histories of Islam, No God but God: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization. Here he attempts a historical inquiry into the life of Jesus. Long ago I read Marcello Craveri's The Life of Jesus, a similar attempt to flesh out a historical character about whom little is known and much is imagined.
Aslan must know this as well as anyone, but judging from the cover, I have to wonder whether the association of Jesus with the Jewish zealot movement isn't imposing something from the modern mind's must justified fear of violent fundamentalism. A big chunk of data from leaked US diplomatic documents inedited, indexed, with notes on context -- I've seen this described as an "executive summary" to an Internet-searchable cache of 2.
People went to jail, or were otherwise harassed, to make this information public. Other people should go to jail for what it shows. What Can Be Done? Economist, published his first paper on the subject back in when the problem seemed less dire, not that there was nothing to study then. Most likely an important book on the subject, not least for a lifetime's thought into how to overcome it.
The Burden of White Supremacy: From to Israeli-born, UK-based saxophonist writes a polemic about Jewish identity and the reflexive identification of so many Jews with Israel.
Deception and Abuse at the Fed: Gonzalez is a D-TX congressman who chaired the House Financial Services Committee, one of the few politicians who ever tried to exert any oversight on the Fed.
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Author has written extensively about software and telecom industries, including critically about Microsoft, but he seems to have found something even more alarming in Google. I doubt that, but I do believe that the price we pay for advertising-sponsored services is much higher and far more perverse than we can imagine. I think Google tries to look at this pact benignly, asking how much useful service we can provide based on its advertising revenue stream, but I don't think it is so benign.
Still, none of this exculpates Microsoft. The Fearful Rise of Markets: Focus on global linkages which allow bubbles to have effects propagated throughout the financial system. The Wealth of Humans: The Pipeline and the Paradigm: On Alberta's tar sands and why they represent such a threat to irrevesibly amplify global warming. Stupid to the Last Drop: If you want to explore the other side, there's Alastair Sweeny: Herzl wasn't the first Zionist, but he headed the World Zionist Organization until his early death and wrote two books The Jewish State and The Old New Land, the latter a novel articulating his vision for what became Israel in He was notable during his life for appealing to imperial powers to adopt the Zionists as a colonization project, and he painted a much more starry-eyed picture than what actually transpired.
But then don't all imperialists start out starry-eyed? I recently picked up Avishai's The Tragedy of Zionism: Revolution and Democracy in the Land of Israel reissued in with a new subtitle, How Its Revolutionary Past Haunts Israeli Democracy because it seemed to have a sense of how Ben-Gurion's ostensibly pragmatic tactics locked Israel into an untenable prison of myths. Looks like he has a critical analysis of Israel's internal divisions and how they prolong the conflict, and a fanciful solution that thinks Israel can correct itself and become a normal nation.
Still, for all the author's deliberate centrism -- his previous book was called Independent Nation: How Centism Can Change American Politics -- an Amazon reviewer slams the book as "leftist trash; he's just another socialist who hates the constitution, distorts the truth, and fawns over progressive elitists. First English translation of two books by Avnery published He is now known as one of Israel's most courageous and consistent peaceniks, but back in the day fought in the far-right Irgun.
That the war was blood is no doubt something he remembers better than most. I've no doubt read most of this already. He never misses a beat or falls for a scam. A New Look at the PastSterling: Despite the title, this looks like a high school textbook, a nicely organized and illustated compendium of what everyone knows, with little or no additional insights. A New Look at the Past, just a year ago.
Revised paperback edition of an older book. Not sure exactly what this is -- game theory, maybe. Author has another book, The Complexity of Cooperation.
Important subject, the bedrock of civilization. Until Bernanke most of what the Fed did was diddle with the money supply, taking the punch bowl away when parties started to get going unless you're Greenspan and the party is Republican, of courseand this briefly pp surveys that side, from a long time insider's perspective. Big page book on Wikipedia. We've been needing some kind of book to provide an intro to the mechanics and conventions of contributing. I've put a couple of little things in, but have generally been inhibited.
I bought John Broughton: The Missing Manual, but haven't read much yet. Also Mark S Choate: Professional Wikis, which is more about how to set up your own MediaWiki-based site, which may be the hardcore way to do it. Relatively optimistic approach to Africa's future, positing a fresh restart from the chaos and depredations of the past. Author, an economist from Ghana, previously wrote Africa in Chaos: Abridged from a much larger book in Hebrew, this is a theory-heavy structural analysis of Israel's occupation -- how various legal and military regimes have been evolved to repress revolt and manage the Palestinian population both within the Green Zone and in the occupied territories.
They make no bones that the key is violence, sometimes naked their term is "eruptive"more often implicit what they call "withheld". Moreover, this violence is so much a part of Israeli rule that the only way to make peace is to replace the Israeli regime. From Palestine to Israel: A Political Ontology of PhotographyVerso. Author of The New American Militarism: This book singles out the post-Cold War period. Note that Bacevich has a new book coming out in August: The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.
The New American Militarism: Andrew J Bacevich, ed: Twelve essays, only a couple of people I've heard of, none other than Bacevich I particularly respect. Looks short, and may idolize Jimmy Carter more than is really decent, but not a bad idea as a corrective. I think the key to the sales burst has been the way Bacevich has avoided any partisan association with the Democrats, who he correctly recognizes are a little too trigger happy. Come election time we'll have to balance that off against McCain, who's easily the most trigger-happy presidential candidate since James Polk, maybe ever.
America's bestselling anti-militarism author, possibly because he set his roots down in the military, academia, and the conservative press before he turned against the perpetual war machine, but also because he's open to ideas from all over the map. Bush set such a low bar that Obama thinks he can play the same game and come out on top, a conceit that Bacevich is singularly skilled at debunking.
The Short American Century: A PostmortemHarvard University Press: Collection with eight other contributors, including Walter LaFeber -- one of the first to document this century of hubris and folly. Continues the author's critique of American militarism -- cf. America's Path to Permanent War -- all useful books. Still, I think his argument here, that Washington has found it too easy to use and abuse the all-volunteer Army can be countered by restoring the draft, is misplaced.
He surely recalls that having "citizen-soldiers" in Vietnam did little to prevent the politicians and brass from abusing them. Nor did the Army's later scheme to make itself unable to fight wars without calling up the reserves deter the Bushes. I don't doubt that the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have done immeasurable damage to the troops, but you're never going to end American militarism by fetishizing the troops -- they ultimately have too much stake in perpetuating the system to buck it, even if many wind up its victims.
America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military HistoryRandom House: Vietnam veteran, conservative critic of America's imperial overreach, especially since his important The New American Militarism: That book helped explain why American politicians lost their fear of getting trapped in foreign quagmires. Here he moves from the toxic effects militarism has had on American civil society to the endless chain of disasters US entanglement in the Middle East has caused going back to the s.
Very likely another important book. A Military History ; paperback,Random House: A self-styled conservative, but a useful critic of militarism in post-Vietnam America see 's The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War. A Wall in Palestine paperback,Picador: More like the wall in Palestine, cutting through the West Bank, less for security than to impose a new partition on the landscape, and not much about that either given the Israelis show every intent to keep both sides.
Journalist, former labor organizer, on both carrot and stick: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation is a newer and longer book on same subject. One reason these books are of current interest is that they suggest that all occupations are flawed -- I've seen reports of Young Republicans boning up on the US occupation of Germany and Japan during their flight to Baghdad. History could have served them better not that they cared. The Communist HypothesisVerso: A manifesto for a new way following the self-destructions of soviet communism and neo-liberalism.
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Probably not the best PR strategy to package this as yet another communism, but it makes sense to me to project some sort of "third way" out of the current dead end ideologies.
Badiou has a stack of books, most recently The Meaning of Sarkozy. Dealing With the New Iranian Superpower Deer Hunting With Jesus: A Redneck Memoir paperback,Scribe: Previously wrote Deer Hunting With Jesus: Might seem presumptuous to write a memoir, but he got cancer and died already, so quit bitching.
The First War of Physics: The secrets presumably come from recently declassified documents, especially from Russia. Otherwise it would seem that this story has been told many times over, perhaps best by Richard Rhodes' trilogy: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race. Focuses on BlackRock as one of the more spectacular busts of the banking collapse. The Pirates of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden WorldPantheon: Journalist, went to Somalia and worked his way into the pirate havens, met people, talked shop, managed to get out and write a book about it.
Probably knows more about the subject than any of us ever will, although I've seen at least one more book that makes a similar claim: Could be that this is just a pissy attack on web-oriented Democratic Party activists, in which case it's not an argument I much care to get into -- I'm more concerned with what's wrong in the real world than I am about nitpicking people trying to change it.
The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations,Knopf: Should as much be the story of the de-peopling of North America, as the native population died off while surrendering land to European and African newcomers.
Especially in the early years, the population balance was treacherous. Bull by the Horns: A Kansas Republican, appointed by Bush to head the FDIC inBair distinguished herself as damn near the only government official who attempted to do something about the financial collapse before the bottom fell out. Not specifically about banks, but the author could write a sequel that is. For starters, the custom of treating fines for illegal activities to cost-benefit analysis is sociopathic.
Short survey of the economic fruits of the right-turn following Reagan's election. Baker has been a pretty sharp observer, especially of the housing bubble.
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