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What We Are Reading

December 30, 2009

Below is a list of books that we have read in the past month. The comments are not a review of the books, instead sort of an endorsement of ideas and investigations that can provide solid analysis and even inspiration to struggle for change. We plan to do this on a monthly basis. All these books are at The Bloom Collective, so check them out and stimulate your mind.

Tree Spiker, by Mike Roselle – This book was a delight to read. Roselle recounts his own radicalization in the late 60’s and 70’s. He talks about being involved in the anti-war movement and then the early years of the environmental movement. Roselle, who spent years in Montana and surrounding states, felt that mainstream environmental groups too often sold out the protection of wilderness. He eventually became involved in the radical environmental group known as Earth First! Since the 1980s, Roselle has been tirelessly defending the planet and is currently involved in anti-coal direction action with the group Climate Ground Zero.

Smash the Church, Smash the State: The early years of Gay Liberation – This collection of essays by a variety of authors was not only enlightening but very inspiring. These early gay liberation activists not only had an amazing analysis, they challenged the very core of what many of us hold sacred in society.

Violence Over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West, by Ned Blackhawk – I heard Ned Blackhawk speak at a conference in Grand Rapids a few months ago and was very impressed by his scholarship. In his first book, the young Native scholar takes a look at both the policies of the US government towards Indians living in the western territories, he also provides an interesting assessment of how American writers of the last half of the 19th century portrayed these Indian nations.

Israeli Apartheid: A Beginners Guide, by Ben White – Taking on a little discussed topic, White provides readers with an excellent introduction and analysis of how Israel’s policies towards Palestinians can be called nothing other than apartheid. One of the best aspects of the author’s analysis was his comparison to South African Apartheid to see how Israeli Apartheid is similar and uniquely different.

The Old Man: John Brown at Harpers Ferry, by Truman Nelson – John Brown is one of the many misunderstood and misrepresented characters in American history. Truman Nelson’s book not only helps us understand what happened at Harpers Ferry in 1859, but provides readers with an important insight into the person of John Brown. After reading this book John Brown has now become one of my role models.

Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It, by Rick Wolff – There is still so much about the 2008 economic collapse that we do not understand and that is due in part to the tremendous propaganda that the news media, government and Wall Street foist upon us. In this collection of essays, the author not only provides important analysis of the collapse, but of the real cause…..capitalism. This is not an analysis you will find on talk radio or TV, but Wolff provides us with an important critique that will inform how we should respond.

The Taming of the American Crowd: Stamp Riots to Shopping Sprees, by Al Sandine – The content of this book is as fun as the title. Sandine explores the dynamic of crowds in American history and the factors that contributed to its evolution. What motivated people to take action against injustice and oppression before has too often led to crowds becoming docile consumers and spectators.

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