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What We Are Reading

January 29, 2010

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 in the struggle for change. All these books are available at The Bloom Collective, so check them out and stimulate your mind.

The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution That Will Begin the World Again – This is the most recent book that journalist John Nichols and media scholar Robert McChesney have written together. The Death and Life of American Journalism looks both at the history of news media in the US and the current “crisis” facing news media.

The authors argue that there has always been state intervention in media, like subsidies for mailing newspapers, and that some state intervention is still necessary if we are to have a viable news media in the US. In addition, Nichols and McChesney provide some interesting analysis of the current crisis in news media as well as some well thought out ideas about how to make journalism sustainable and not market driven.

The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy – This is Raj Patel’s second book, and like the first one, he has given us a thought provoking work. In The Value of Nothing, Patel revisits all the standard economic argument for capitalism and concludes that such a system is inherently flawed. The book doesn’t read like a classical Marxist critique, but is part of a growing body of anti-capitalism literature, which challenges the current economic models. Patel also provides concrete examples of movements globally that are forging new economic models, models based on cooperation. The Value of Nothing is both challenging and inspiring.

Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer – This is the fourth in a series of political primers that Phyllis Bennis has put together in recent years. In Ending the US War in Afghanistan, Bennis provides readers with a framework in which to understand the complex history of US relations with Afghanistan and great analysis of the more than eight year US occupation of Afghanistan. Highly recommended if you want to both understand what is happening in Afghanistan and have a solid intellectual foundation in which to organize against the US war in that country.

The Food Wars – Walden Bello is the founding director of Focus on the Global South, which works on challenging corporate globalization from the perspective of people in countries being exploited. The Food Wars is an excellent investigation into how the capitalist driven economic model imposed on the poorer countries of the world has devastated food production and created an unsustainable food system. Bello provides case studies like Mexico, the Philippines, China and several African nations. An important contribution to our understanding of what the consequences are of putting profit over people.

The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s Most Powerful Industry – and What We Must Do to Stop It – Antonia Juhasz, author of The Bush Agenda, has given us one of the best books ever written about the oil industry. In the tradition of Ida Tarbell, The Tyranny of Oil exposes the insidious inner workings of the global oil cartel. Juhasz begins with an overview of Big Oil’s origins and how they have evolved into what they are today. The author looks at how Big Oil buys politicians, causes major health problems and devastates eco-systems around the world. The Tyranny of Oil is an important contribution for anyone interested in a world that respects people and the planet.

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