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What We Are Reading

November 21, 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.

In Deep Water: The Anatomy of a Disaster, The Fate of the Gulf, and How to End our Oil Addiction, by Peter Lehner – This is the first book that honestly takes a look at the BP oil disaster that continues to unfold since the underwater well exploded earlier this year. Lehner does an excellent job at providing readers with sufficient background information, how the oil industry functions at the federal level and what the long-term ecological implications are of the largest single oil spill in US history will have in the Gulf. Unfortunately the book has a weak ending on how “we” will end our addiction to oil. Lehner is operating on the assumption that the mainstream environmental groups do, which is that we can easily transition from oil to renewable energy, without challenging the current levels of energy consumption or the capitalist framework energy production operates in.

Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food, by Wendell Berry – Bringing It to the Table is a collection of the best of farmer/poet Wendell Berry’s writing over the past three decades. With growing attention to food production in the US and the emphasis on eating locally, people would be well served be Berry’s earth-based wisdom that comes from years of practicing sustainable agriculture. Berry not only provides practical information on the importance of farming, but provides honest table talk about the urgency for all of us to develop a stronger relational awareness with the food that we eat. Few writers have been able to bring practice and analysis on the topic of food like Berry and this collection of essays can serve as sort of a handbook or guide for how we move forward with what we eat.

Words & Money, by Andre Schiffrin – Words & Money is a refreshing look at some of the current trends within the media business, both in the US and Europe. Schiffrin, the publisher of The New Press, not only provides readers with a sharp critique of how the commercial media in the US has failed the public in recent decades, he provides some interesting models from outside the US on how media, particularly news media, could function so that the profit motive does not cast a shadow over news content. Schiffrin also offers up some new ideas and new models that are currently not being used abroad, but could lead to some interesting approaches to producing independent media that truly serves the public interest.

The Pornography of Meat, by Carol J. Adams – This book is a fabulous sequel to Adams’ first book The Sexual Politics of Meat, which she wrote in 1990. The Pornography of Meat continues the analysis from Adams’ first book by making the link between how we objectify the bodies of animals in order to consume them, which is the same thing we do to women’s bodies in advertising in order to “consume them.” Adams provides over 100 visual examples in the book which supports her analysis of how women’s and animal’s bodies have become commodities for us to consume and that that commodification is often sexualized. Adams makes a strong case for vegetarianism by looking at the harm done to animals through a feminist lens.

After the Greek Uprising – a documentary video by ZNet – In May 2009, Z staff traveled to Athens to talk with people about the December uprising and its implications for long-term organizing toward revolutionary change. They interviewed people in the large anti-authoritarian movement, as well as participants in the uprising, and members of a neighborhood occupation. The documentary includes footage from the uprising and various areas of political action around Athens. It also has scenes from a well-attended B-Fest conference, which focused on how to move forward. After the Greek Uprising provides an inspiring example of how revolutionary change can occur and would be a useful resource for those in the US in terms of what kinds of tactics and strategies were employed that made the uprising effective.


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