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What We Are Reading

August 2, 2010

Below is a list of books that we have read in recent weeks. 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 Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession With Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health – And a Vision for Change, by Annie Leonard. This book is a more detailed investigation than the animated video that Annie Leonard produced called the Story of Stuff. The author provides a great deal more material to make her case about the human and environmental cost of consumerism. During the process of researching and writing this book Leonard came to the conclusion what she was ultimately critiquing was Capitalism. Well written, good documentation and excellent examples of people and movements that are challenging our current economic model.

The Bomb, by Howard Zinn – This short book consists of two essays from radical historian Howard Zinn on the realties of modern warfare and dropping bombs on civilian populations. The first essay is Zinn’s investigation into the US bombing of Hiroshima, with the second essay looking at the bombing of the French town of Royan. These two essays were not just academic exercises for Zinn. He flew planes during WWII and was on the mission that dropped bombs on Royan and his time in the military was ended because of Hiroshima. Zinn not only excavates for us the truth of these bombings, he offers a confession of sorts for how these experiences radically changed hi life.

The Citizen Machine: Governing by Television in 1950s America, by Anna McCarthy. The Citizen Machine is a fresh, new look into the role that powerful sectors in US society played in determining the use of TV during the 1950s. McCarthy looks at how the DuPont corporation, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Ford Foundation and the AFL-CIO all used TV as a meaning of trying to influence public opinion and develop “citizens” in a narrowly constructed sense. By sifting through TV shows and documents from the 1950s, McCarthy provides us with an insight into how elite sectors of society wanted to use TV to fashion how Americans would see themselves and even how the world might view this country.

Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love, by Dave Zirin – Left sports writer and host of the radio show Edge of Sports, Dave Zirin, has done it again. Bad Sports is an excellent analysis of modern sports owners and why anyone who cares of social justice should care. Zirin not only appeals to sports fans whose teams have been transformed by greedy owners, he appeals to people who care about how corporate greed, the misuse of public tax money and urban development impacts us all. This collection of essays examines specific professional sports team owners in cities across the country, including a chapter on the owner of the NBAs Orlando Magic, Richard DeVos. Zirin concludes the book with a refreshing essay on the Green Bay Packers since the community owns the team. This powerful contrast of ownership demonstrates that public ownership is far superior to private ownership and can act as a model for how we deal with things like energy and transportation.

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