Crusade 2.0: The West’s Resurgent War on Islam, by John Feffer – This is the most recent book by the co-director of the Institute for Policy Studies, John Feffer. Crusade 2.0 provides invaluable analysis of US policy towards the Muslim world, both abroad and in the US. However, the author also gives readers a solid foundation on the history of the European Christian Crusades and the justifications for slaughtering Muslims during those crusades. Feffer says that the myths about this history are still used to justify policies towards Muslims, that they are violent and that they want to rule the world. Feffer then covers the period from the fall of the Ottoman Empire through the Cold War and the post-Soviet era. The book also spends some time looking at Europe’s growing Islamaphobia and how it moved from the margins to core aspects of state policy. This point is the most important of the book, in that it is not just the far right that promotes Islamaphobia, but liberals, both in government and in academia who justify a war on Islam.
Food Movements Unite!, edited by Eric Holt-Gimenez – With more and more attention given to eating local and organic, this volume of essays is an important contribution to the issues faced by organizations working with the current food movement. The authors of these 20 essays agree that the neoliberal and reformist approaches to food justice are not only inadequate, they perpetuate the current inequities in food access and lack of food justice. The book makes it clear that a more radical approach is necessary to both dismantle the current corporate food system and create a new democratic food system where humans and the land are not exploited. There are contributions from individuals and organizations around the world providing both a critique and best practices on the growing and distribution of food. The contributors also agree that the various entities – women’s groups, urban agriculturalists, small farmers, youth, farm workers and minority movements need to unite or at least find more common ground in responding to the current food crisis.
Free Land: A Hip Hop Journey from the Streets of Oakland to the Wild Wild West, (curriculum & DVD) by Ariel Luckey – How does one deal with racial privilege? This is a question that Ariel Luckey not only asks, but one he answers with passion and clarity, he answers that question by sharing with us his own journey in coming to terms with privilege and working for racial justice. Free Land is part performance art, part spoken word, part testimonial and part history lesson. Luckey uses Hip Hop as it was meant to be used, as a tool for speaking truth and for challenging business as usual politics. The DVD is informative and entertaining, but add to it the curriculum guide and you have both creative and constructive means to engage people into looking at how they benefit from racial privilege, how we need to learn from people’s history and enter into solidarity with communities of color that continue to be confronted by institutional racism. A great resource and a model of how we can do popular education.
Ned Ludd & Queen Mab: Machine Breaking, Romanticism and the Several Commons of 1811 – 12, by Peter Linebaugh – Peter Linebaugh is not only a fabulous historian, he is a fabulous writer. This short booklet that examines the rumblings around the notion of “The Commons” at the end of the 18th Century and the early years of the 19th Century. Linebaugh not only looks at those who identified themselves as Luddites, but other insurrectionary movements around the world that embraced the Commons and rejected technology that displaced creative work and disregarded nature. Linebaugh looks at the Mexican Revolution of 1810, several Native communities in confederation, Ireland and England. The author doesn’t spend a great deal of time discussing the political philosophy of those who called themselves Luddites, but he does provide insight into how people were influenced by them, both in practical terms and in literary terms. This is why Linebaugh looks atQueen Mab, written by Percy Shelley and other poems and novels of the day that spoke passionately about the theft of the commons and the early stages of the industrial revolution. An important contribution for those who are struggling to make sense of living in a high tech and ecocidal world.
The Case for Sanctions Against Israel, edited by Audrea Lim – The International Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli aggression has been growing for several years. This book is a great resource for those interested in expanding this campaign. The anthology of writings in this book include essays on history, interviews, personal testimony, comparisons to Israeli and South African Apartheid and statements of solidarity, such as the one from Indigenous and Women of Color Feminists. Other contributors include John Berger, Naomi Klein, Ilan Pappe, Omar Barghduti, Marc Ellis and Noura Erakat. An excellent recourse that will both inform and inspire. After reading The Case for Sanctions Against Israel one can not help but want to be part of this historic campaign for justice with the Palestinians.
It Started in Wisconsin: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Labor Protest, edited by Mari Jo and Paul Buhle – In this collection of essays and political cartoons readers come face to face with the passion, courage and power of the movement that began in 2011 in Wisconsin. The authors provide for us some background on radical politics, but more importantly each chapter tells the story of how thousands of people in Wisconsin fought to brutal policies implemented by Gov. Walker, policies that targeted public employees, unions and teachers. Readers will learn about how Green Bay Packers fans brought their passion for football to the protests against privatization and the austerity measures being funded by the right. It was in Wisconsin that we first saw solidarity expressed in the US for the struggle in Egypt and around the Middle East it what was becoming the Arab Spring. It Started in Wisconsin is a fabulous re-telling of the power of popular movements and an inspiration for what is possible. It is true that the Recall campaign against Gov. Walker failed, which makes the vision of a grassroots effort to confront power all the more relevant. Highly recommended.
Windfall (DVD) – Wind power… it’s sustainable … it burns no fossil fuels…it produces no air pollution. What’s more, it cuts down dependency on foreign oil. That’s what the people of Meredith, in upstate New York first thought when a wind developer looked to supplement the rural farm town’s failing economy with a farm of their own — that of 40 industrial wind turbines. WINDFALL, a beautifully photographed feature length film, documents how this proposal divides Meredith’s residents as they fight over the future of their community. Attracted at first to the financial incentives that would seemingly boost their dying economy, a group of townspeople grow increasingly alarmed as they discover the impacts that the 400-foot high windmills slated for Meredith could bring to their community as well as the potential for financial scams. With wind development in the United States growing annually at 39 percent, WINDFALL is an eye-opener that should be required viewing for anyone concerned about the environment and the future of renewable energy.
American Insurgents: A Brief History of Anti-Imperialism, by Richard Seymour – As a sequel to his book The Liberal Defense of Murder,Seymour provides us with another important analysis of the history of anti-imperialism in the US. There are two important aspects of Seymour’s book. First, he makes clear that anti-imperialism resistance did not begin with the late 19th Century creation of the Anti-Imperialist League, it began in some ways during the revolutionary war and continued during the War of 1812, the US War Against Mexico in 1848 and the US wars against Native Nations that ended in 1890 with the massacre at Wounded Knee. The other important aspect of this analysis of anti-imperialism is how anti-imperialists and more often anti-war groups have been co-opted and undermined by partisan politics, particularly the Democratic Party. American Insurgents is not only inspiring, in that it acknowledges a rich history of anti-imperialism in the US, it provides important analysis around the significance of anti-imperialism since the onset of the so-called “humanitarian interventionism” of the Clinton years, which have carried over to the Obama administration.
Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare 2001 – 2050,by Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt – Remember the unmanned aircraft that hunted down humans in Terminator? Turse and Engelhardt remind of us of these Hollywood images as a way of framing the insidiousness of the current and future use of robotics in US warfare. Primarily focused on the use of drones, Terminator Planet provides us with not only a history of the use of drones, or what the Pentagon euphemistically refers to as “remotely piloted aircraft,” this collection of essays also frames for us the evolving nature of US warfare. Unmanned drones don’t vote, they don’t protest, they don’t have psychological issues, they don’t have compassion, they don’t get tired, they don’t frag their superior officers and they don’t have any emotion as they kill civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan or any other number of countries the US is deploying these weapons. Turse and Engelhardt bring their sharp analysis of US militarism and foreign policy to a book, which is essential reading for those committed to resisting US imperialism and the military industrial complex.
How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything, by Mike Berners-Lee – I have a major problem with how this book presents information. The author does not address the economic system in which consumption occurs, nor does he provide any meaningful historic context. The book is written in a very methodical fashion that simply lays out the calculated amount of carbon use for items that humans consume, beginning from small items to larger items. For example, since the author uses bananas in the title, he could have provided some history of the production of bananas in Latin America by US and European companies, and what impact this had had on humans and ecosystems in Latin America. To ignore or minimize this part of what our collective consumption of bananas on human and non-human life doesn’t provide an honest assessment of what our “carbon footprint” actually is. Think of it as a form of reparations that we must pay back to people and the planet, something that is not calculated into the carbon footprint model. Having said that the book does provide good data and information on the carbon footprint of everything from foods, travel, use of electronics, even a university. If the information is understood in its proper context, it can be a valuable resource.
The Big Fix: The Truth is Deep Beneath the Surface (DVD) – After two years of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, what do we know about the real consequences of that environmental crime? This is the question that the producers of The Big Fix seek to answer……and answer it they do. The feature length documentary takes us on a journey from the corporate origins of BP to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, from the corruption of state politics in Louisiana to the influence of oil companies at the federal level. This film not only looks at the human and ecological consequences of the 2010 BP crime, it looks at the larger economic system and how it corrupts the political process that not only allows these kinds of crimes, but encourages them. In addition, the film puts a human face on those who continue to suffer from the 2010 BP crime by giving them a voice on camera, following them to public meetings and taking a painful look at how their lives have been devastated by the power politics that collaborates with big capitalists who have no regard for the future. This film will both anger and inspire…….indeed it could be a catalyst for resistance.
We’ve also added the following fictional books, a first for the Bloom:
Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin