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What We Are Reading

April 1, 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.

Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field by Antonio Giustozzi – This book is a collection of essays by people who have done field work in Afghanistan in recent years. It is an excellent investigation into the history of the Taliban and its current manifestations throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan. One of the most revealing aspects of the book is that the Taliban is not a centralized, homogenous group of nationalist fighters, rather a mix of people who are responding to the US/NATO occupation for a variety of reasons. Decoding the New Taliban is an important text for those seeking to understand the current US counter-insurgency campaign.

We Will Return In The Whirlwind: Black Radical Organizations 1960-1975 by Muhammad Ahmad and Maxwell Standford Jr. – This book takes a serious look at several Black radical organizations from the 60s and 70s, such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), the Black Panther Party and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW). The authors provide important analysis of each of these organizations with a concluding chapter on their legacy and what radical organizations can learn for the struggle ahead.

How the Economy Was Lost: The War of the Worlds by Paul Craig Roberts – In this collection of essays Roberts, who was in the Reagan Administration, provides some important and scathing critiques of the US economy, Wall Street and how both the Bush and Obama administrations have responded to the current economic crisis. Many of these essays previously appeared on the left blog CounterPunch, but reading them together provided more continuity to the author’s analysis.

Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive? by David Ray Griffin – Much of the US War on Terror has been based on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, but what if he was no longer alive? The author explores in this short text both the US administration and media claims as to the whereabouts of the supposed “mastermind” to the 9/11 attacks in the US. Griffin looks at lots of sources and provides a compelling argument that Bin Laden may not be alive, but more importantly, the author explores the authenticity of the video messages the US government has used to base its claim that Bin Laden was responsible for 9/11.

The People Speak (DVD) – The People Speak is one of the last gifts that radical historian Howard Zinn gave to all of us. This DVD is a production of a years in the making project that began with Actor Matt Damon collaborating with Zinn to bring the statements, speeches, letters and proclamations of people and organizations that make up the rich history of social movements throughout US history. Numerous Hollywood Actors and noted musicians read and sing songs that make up this countries radical past. It is a moving tribute to the life and work of Howard Zinn.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Doug Burkholder permalink
    April 2, 2010 1:26 am

    The best way to change things in the present and future is to spend more time and effort in the now !!!
    Focus on the positive , not the negative !
    What can I do to make today better than yesterday ?

  2. Jeff Smith permalink*
    April 2, 2010 1:34 am

    Doug, I’m not sure why you put this comment here, unless you are responding to the content of the books and DVD I included here. First, I think that in order to create a better world we need to have a good analysis of the current situation. If we don’t honestly confront the current problems we face we will not have adequate solutions.

    Having said that I think that some of the items included here do advocate for improving the world. The People Speak DVD is incredibly inspiring with dramatic readings from the rich tradition of social change in this country. The book on the Black radical organizations is a detailed account of what these groups accomplished, amazing things, despite the forces arrayed against them.

    The other texts, while dealing with war and a failed economy, can provide us some insight on how we struggle against war and economic exploitation. For me, to do either of things things means making a bette world.

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