Top Book Choices for the Holiday and New Year
Give the Gift of Knowledge and Help Dissident Voice Too!
by Sunil Sharma and Dissident Voice Contributing Writers

December 21, 2003

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Editor's Note: Well it's that time again. You know, the time we're expected to be even more mindlessly consumeristic than the rest of the year. But if you can't avoid the holiday consumer impulse, why not give the greatest gift of all: the gift of knowledge and imagination . . . Books!


I and some of Dissident Voice's contributing writers offer here our book recommendations for the holiday season. Originally I asked the writers to list faves that were published within the last couple of years. Naturally, being dissidents, few actually followed that rule (bless them all), nevertheless almost all the books listed here are currently in print or available used.


You can order a book and help Dissident Voice newsletter at the same time by clicking on each book title link. A separate window will appear of a special page on Amazon.com where you can purchase the book(s). By ordering from this page, DV will receive a very modest referral fee, which will help cover this website's (growing) expenses for the coming year. DV will only receive this fee if you order a book from that linked special page.


I know some of you are saying, "why the hell is DV asking folks to buy from a big corporate megalith like Amazon?" The short answer is DV needs the help. We want to continue to provide a FREE resource people can access to escape the bullshit and blather of state/corporate propaganda, and get a more realistic picture of what's happening in the world. This is one of the few ways in our unfortunate system where we can make money to pay the bills. In each edition of DV, you get hard-hitting, thought provoking news and commentaries from voices you will rarely, if ever, find on the evening news or in mainstream print media. And we want to continue providing this valuable resource.


I personally prefer to support my local independent bookstore. And I would definitely encourage you to do just that if you have that option. Many folks, however, live in places where there are either no independent bookstores nearby. Most cities only have big chain book stores like Borders and Crown, etc. So, if you buy through our Amazon page, even though you're helping another big corporation, at least some of that money trickles down to us, which helps keep us afloat. The choice is yours. Support your local independent bookstores if you can, or help us out by buying through our special pages at Amazon if there are none in your neighborhood, or just because you want to help keep DV strong.

Finally, I had wanted to post this list a couple of weeks ago so people wanting to buy these books would have time to do so before Christmas, but alas a crazy schedule didn't make that possible. But hey, you don't need the excuse of a specially timed buying spree spurred by fairy tales of a fat white guy riding reindeers and trespassing down your chimney to give the important gift of knowledge. It's the best gift to give all year round.


-- Sunil



Sunil Sharma's Selections
Sunil is the Editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: editor@dissidentvoice.org


While books by extreme right wing apologists and cheerleaders of the Empire, like Bill O'Reilly and Anne Ku-Klux Coulter, litter the literary landscape, the last couple of years has especially seen an abundance of great books put out by leading alternative publishing houses like The New Press, Monthly Review Press, Common Courage, South End, Verso (whose cover artwork has been especially wonderful), AK Press, Seven Stories, and others. Here are some picks that I heartily recommend.


Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: The Politics of Nature by Jeffrey St. Clair


Jeff is co-editor of CounterPunch, one of DV's biggest inspirations. St. Clair is far-and-away the most keen observer of environmental politics, and one of the most gifted writers on the planet. Brown So Long is a work of startling beauty and passion that will piss you off, but is at the same time an inspiring call to action rooted in an optimism informed by St. Clair's portraits of heroic activist struggles. The late Edward Abbey and David Brower would truly be proud of this important collection of essays. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book, but more importantly, use it in struggle against the bipartisan, corporate plunderers that are threatening Life itself. (Read our extended review)


The Contours of Descent: U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity by Robert Pollin


An especially important read as we head towards the national election. In our degraded political climate, many look back with nostalgia at the state of the US economy during the Clinton years. Pollin blows away many illusions about the Clinton years by detailing in depth how Slick Willie's neo-liberal economic policies were in essence a continuation of the Reagan revolution. The rich got much richer, the poor poorer, and the middle class got stuck on a treadmill going nowhere fast. This book will illuminate why a candidate like Howard Dean doesn't truly offer an alternative to business as usual. Pollin, however, doesn't just criticize, he offers a workable egalitarian policy agenda for both the US and the developing nations. Pollin has the rare ability to present complex economic issues in an easily understandable manner. No "dismal science" drudgery here. (read our earlier review)


Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton

From Publishers Weekly: As government officials and observers battle over whether or not the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence reports of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to justify war, there should be a ready audience for this new book by the authors of Trust Us, We're Experts! Professional debunkers of media manipulation, Rampton and Stauber unmask the impact of "information warriors and perception managers" (as one PR consultant described himself) on Bush's attempt to turn public opinion in favor of war on Iraq. The authors deconstruct the PR campaign to promote the U.S. in the wake of September 11: the State Department's hiring of ad exec Charlotte Beers ("the queen of Madison Avenue") to direct the campaign; how PR execs and lobbyists helped construct the government's anti-Iraq message; the administration's alleged misinformation and distortion of facts and reliance on rumor to influence public opinion. Anyone skeptical of the reasons for the war against Iraq will find their suspicions enhanced here.

War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges

A powerful book on the seduction and culture of war from the NY Times correspondent who has visited some of the worst hells on earth: Bosnia, the Occupied Territories of Palestine, Rwanda, Central America, among others. Hedges explores the dangerous romanticizing of war as glorious and noble from the literary and media depictions of the ancient Greeks to the present. This work is especially important to read in an era when most Americans' only understanding of war is an absurd video-game caricature that anaesthetizes us from the real pain and horror war wreaks on the lives of "others"; a time when we seem to be most disconnected from the suffering of others; a time when events like 9/11 and the greater potential for similar acts -- as a result of our empire building crusade -- should dispel the notion that our ignorance of the suffering we inflict around the world doesn't entail terrible consequences for ourselves. Hedges shows us the true, terrible face of war.

Reporting from Ramallah: An Israeli Journalist in an Occupied Land by Amira Hass

From Publishers Weekly: Hass, a Jewish Israeli journalist for the newspaper Ha'aretz, has chosen to live on the West Bank-and her intimate knowledge of the plight of the Palestinians illuminates this book. Culled from her dispatches during the past five years, these pieces offer a three-dimensional portrait of the daily experiences of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation. The early pieces, written while serious peace talks were being conducted in the late '90s, shows the roots of the current violence: most notably, Palestinians' frustration that the Oslo peace accords hadn't produced many tangible results. As Hass presciently wrote: "The distance from here to private and collective acts of despair is not great." As the book wends its way through the outbreak of violence in September 2000, that despair is increasingly on display. Her pieces illustrate how Palestinian frustration-over detentions, house demolitions, a life so riddled with restrictions that "hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are criminals or potential criminals"-erupted into suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism. But what distinguishes this book is its emphasis on the personal-and how the conflict has created a logic that has driven both sides to violence. In an in-depth interview, an Israeli sharpshooter discusses the rules of when to open fire ("Every day, the regulations... change"). Members of Palestinian society discuss the difficulty of keeping children healthy and educated under the pressures of violence and occupation. Members of Palestinian terrorist groups discuss what drove them to their acts and the internal rivalries among competing factions. Anyone who wants an in-depth, humanizing portrait of the Palestinians should look no further.

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity by Vijay Prashad

From The Village Voice: Pity Nathan Glazer and his ilk. Not long after the neoconservative concedes that We Are All Multiculturalists Now, Vijay Prashad arrives to demolish multiculturalism as a complacent theme park of self-enclosed heritages. Instead, Prashad suggests polyculturalism, the recognition of "our mulatto histories." This slim book spans five centuries to plumb Afro-Asian affairs, from the pre-capitalist mix of the Indian Ocean cosmos to the multinational travels (and fan base) of Bruce Lee. Whether locating both Ho Chi Minh and Elijah Muhammad in Marcus Garvey's audiences or ruminating on the Asian roots of Rastafarianism, Kung Fu is a treasury of hidden histories and startling solidarities. But Prashad is not simply celebratory: He also takes on the "primordialism" of Afrocentrists and Asian nationalists in a book that is both unapologetically radical and alive to paradox.

The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet by Mickey Z.

As an editor of a radical political website and a struggling musician dedicated to the art , yet having to waste time working an unrelated day job to put a meal on the table and a roof over my head, DV contributing writer Mickey Z.'s book especially resonates with me. Mickey sent out a questionnaire to many activists asking how they managed to be active and true to their causes while surviving in our corporate dominated landscape. This book comprises their many humorous, not-so humorous, strange, and moving tales. For struggling activists and artists, the book provides solace and inspiration in knowing you're not alone, and perhaps even important lessons in finding the path to living our lives as we truly desire, rather than passing or wasting our short time on earth.

Hegemony or Survival?: America's Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky

The Noamster is my biggest influence and having read every political book he's written, it's difficult picking out a couple rather than make this list much too long by listing most of them. Hegemony is his latest -- as usual -- brilliant and devastatingly documented critique of American foreign and domestic policy, from the end of WWII to the present. Among the many insights one gains from reading Chomsky, to me the most important in reading Hegemony pertains to the 2004 election. Chomsky illuminates how America's imperialistic proclivities have been more-or-less consistent under Democratic and Republican administrations, with the current gang of terrorists being a more unusually virulent variety of species in a very narrow political framework. While the Bush II regime's open declaration of a policy of unilateralist, preventive war (a war crime, as opposed to the much referred to "pre-emptive" war) is novel, it hardly is new in actual American practice over many decades. Whether or not one agrees with Chomsky's conclusions, the wealth of facts and documentation he assembles is indeed valuable, and one truly courts ignorance by ignoring Chomsky.

All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer

From the Inside Flap: Half a century ago, the United States overthrew a Middle Eastern government for the first time. The victim was Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. Although the coup seemed a success at first, today it serves as a chilling lesson about the dangers of foreign intervention. In this book, veteran New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer gives the first full account of this fateful operation. His account is centered around an hour-by-hour reconstruction of the events of August 1953, and concludes with an assessment of the coup’s "haunting and terrible legacy." Operation Ajax, as the plot was code-named, reshaped the history of Iran, the Middle East, and the world. It restored Mohammad Reza Shah to the Peacock Throne, allowing him to impose a tyranny that ultimately sparked the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The Islamic Revolution, in turn, inspired fundamentalists throughout the Muslim world, including the Taliban and terrorists who thrived under its protection. "It is not far-fetched," Kinzer asserts in this book, "to draw a line from Operation Ajax through the Shah’s repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York." . . .Brimming with insights into Middle Eastern history and American foreign policy, this book is an eye-opening look at an event whose unintended consequences--Islamic revolution and violent anti-Americanism--have shaped the modern world. As the United States assumes an ever-widening role in the Middle East, it is essential reading.

Boob Jubilee: The Mad Cultural Politics of the New Economy: Salvos from the Baffler edited by Thomas Frank and David Mulcahey

Thomas Frank is author of the highly recommended One Market Under God and Commodify Your Dissent, and editor of The Baffler, an indispensable and entertaining journal that focuses on the nation's consumer and business culture. Boob Jubilee is a compilation of essays from the pages of the Baffler, many of them previously unavailable after a fire destroyed their old office in Chicago and along with it many back issues. Many of these essays have been revised and updated. The Baffler's essays are the most provocative, damning, and just damned funny barbs at American corporate culture and the "New Economy" anywhere.

The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America from Slavery to the War on Terror by Christian Parenti

Book Description: From the popular historian and journalist Christian Parenti, a vivid and chilling history of surveillance in American life-from the antebellum South to the computerized landscape of the futuristic present. The Soft Cage is the first book to detail the continuum of surveillance in the making of the United States-from the slave pass to the Social Security number all the way to the many forms of computerized monitoring now shaping the post-9/11 world. The Soft Cage explores not just the history but also the politics of everyday surveillance, and explains to readers why the question of who is watching and listening is of utmost importance today. Parenti details how seemingly benign technologies-E-ZPass, GPS systems in rental cars, and iris scans at airports-present opportunities for a reconfiguration of the balance of power between the individual and the state. Under the aegis of security and convenience, Parenti argues, corporations and the U.S. government, often working together, have, without any oversight, substantially eroded civil liberties-including the right to privacy -that Americans have long taken for granted.

Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq by Tariq Ali

Born in what is now Pakistan, New Left Review contributing editor Tariq Ali has, since the 1960s, been one of the world's leading and most eloquent anti-imperialist voice. In his latest masterpiece, Ali looks at the US invasion of Iraq, the machinations of the Bush junta, the likely fallout of the war, a brief but thorough overview of relevant Middle East history, and the forces of resistance to US domination. His chapter presenting the work of leading Arab and Muslim poets belies the popular belief that the Arab and Islamic world is bereft of self-critical thinkers and activists.

Mina Hamilton's Selections
Mina is a writer based in New York City. She can be reached at minaham@aol.com.

Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question, edited by Edward W. Said and Christopher Hitchens (Don't worry this book was edited before Hitchens took his dive to the Right. Verso, Updated Edition, 2001).

Blaming the Victims has absolutely vital documentation on Israel's false charge that, after the war of 1948, Palestinians were "induced to run away…by their own leadership."  The book includes Norman Finkelstein's brilliant, painstaking rebuttal of Joan Peter's claim that most of the 700,000 Arabs residing in Palestine at the time of the birth of Israel were "recent" immigrants. Also includes some of Edward Said's and Noam Chomsky's best writing, particularly the latter on "Middle East Terrorism and the American Ideological System."

Strangers in the House: Coming of Age in Occupied Palestine by Raja Shehadeh

Shehadeh intelligently chronicles his childhood and adolescence in Ramallah. Adroitly moving between the regrets of his grandparents and neighbors (who, dispossessed from Jaffa, continually yearn for the old days) and the fight of his father for a settlement with Israel, the author makes chillingly vivid Israel's destruction of an ancient culture and society.

Refugees in our Own Land: Chronicles from a Palestinian Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, by Muna Hamzeh

This is a wrenching personal account of the beginning of the second intifada as seen from the perspective of the Dheisheh refugee camp.  On every page are humiliating and cruel incidents in a brutal, bloody occupation and on every page are compelling descriptions of the amazing courage and resilience of the Palestinians.

Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada by Wendy Pearlman

Pearlman interviews surgeons, school kids, farmers, shop owners, teachers, and parents and records their words after seeing homes bulldozed, children shot, ancient olive groves ripped up.  As Howard Zinn says, "I know of no better way for Americans to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than to listen to these poignant, intensely human stories."

Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales

Lest we forget atrocities occurring elsewhere in the world besides Palestine, here's a book on child labor, prostitution, debt-bondage and slavery in Brazil, Pakistan, India, Mauritania, and Thailand. Bales is the world's leading expert on contemporary slavery.  His analysis of economic and social causes is sober and detailed, his descriptions of actual work sites utterly gripping.

Blindness by Jose Saramago

My only fiction selection is a fast-paced, can't-put-it-down book that describes a city caught in an epidemic of inexplicable blindness.  Sufferers of this condition are confined to a mental hospital where a criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and assaulting women.  The parallels to the USA today are just too damn rich and the writing is delicious.

Leilla Matsui's Selections
Leilla is a freelance writer living in Tokyo, Japan. She can be reached at: catcat@s3.ocv.ne.jp

The Best Money Democracy Can Buy by Greg Palast

The World is Not for Sale: Farmers Against Junk Food by Jose Bove and Francois Dufour

French farmers take on McDonald's and spark a global resistance against 'Frankenfoods', factory farming and 'Super-Sized' McWendy Whoppers with double cheese and parasites.

Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta by Gore Vidal

Why Do People Hate America? by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davis

What to give the person who asks, 'Why do they hate us?' - a political primer for that novice on your list - a valuable and resourceful tool for any library, really.  In fact, no one should leave home (or the country) without it.

Therapy Culture by Frank Furedi

Puts the therapeutic imperative in popular culture on the analytical couch. The session reveals an effective means of curbing political discontent by inciting the notion of 'illness' into every aspect of life.
The UK edition is available here, a US edition will be available in March 2004.

How Proust Can Change Your Life: Not a Novel by Alain de Botton

An erudite piss-take on the Self-Help genre.

The violent, rootless society of military culture is put on the autopsy block along with the two savagely murdered women.  Gulf War One sends one of its homicidal heroes home to a bloody welcoming in the Mojave Desert.

Old but utterly essential:

The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord

Publisher's Blurb:

Few works of political and cultural theory have been as enduringly provocative as Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle. From its publication amid the social upheavals of the 1960s up to the present, the volatile theses of this book have decisively transformed debates on the shape of modernity, capitalism and everyday life in the late twentieth cenlury. Now finally available in a superb English translation approved by the author, Debord's text remains as crucial as ever for understanding the contemporary effects of power, which are increasingly inseparable from the new virtual worlds of our rapidly changing image/information culture.

"In all that has happened in the last twenty years, the most important change lies in the very continuity of the spectacle. Quite simply, the spectacle's domination has succeeded in raising a whole generation moulded to its laws. The extraordinary new conditions in which this entire generation has lived constitute a comprehensive summary of all that, henceforth, the spectacle will forbid; and also all that it will permit." --Guy Debord (1988)


The Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Still tops my list of books I absolutely must re-read before I die (and possibly be buried with).

Out by Natsuo Kirino

Japan's leading Mystery writer subverts the genre with an unflinching look at the underbelly of the Japan's 'economic miracle'. Feminism with a violently erotic bent.

Kim Petersen's Selections
Kim is a Canadian writer living in Nova Scotia. He can be reached at: kimpetersen@gyxi.dk

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast

A People’s History of the Unites States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

Understanding Power: The Indispensible Chomsky, eds. Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel


Josh Frank's Selections
Josh is a writer and activist living in New York City. Like the Editor of DV, he is a connoisseur of Brew. He can be reached at frank_joshua@hotmail.com.


You Can't be Neutral on a Moving Train by Howard Zinn

Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit by Vandana Shiva

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Cultural Revolution by Pawl Hawken

The Ralph Nader Reader by Ralph Nader

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive by Dave Pelzer

No Logo by Naomi Klein

The Case Against the Global Economy: And For a Turn Toward the Local by Jerry Mander et al.

Five Days the Shook the World by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair

The Umbrella of US Power by Noam Chomsky

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser


The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Geek Love by Katerine Dunn

Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

The Fool's Progress: An Honest Novel by Edward Abbey

Indian Creek Chronicles by Pete Fromm

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Fool's Crow by James Welch

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Years by Virginia Woolf

Merlin Chowkwanyun's Selections
Merlin is a NYC-based journalist and student at Columbia University and can be reached at mc2028@columbia.edu. He hosts a radio show on WBAR 87.9 FM NYC (www.wbar.org) on Sundays from 2-4 PM EST

The War Against the Poor: The Underclass and Antipoverty Policy by Herbert J. Gans

Mark Hand's Selections
Mark is the editor of Press Action. He can be reached at: mark@pressaction.com

The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind

This is the best book yet on the downfall of Enron. McLean, a Fortune magazine journalist who is credited with writing one of the first skeptical pieces on Enron’s finances, and Elkind took their time in putting this book together, and the time was well-spent. The writing is clear, the editing is superb, and the insight into the transformation of Enron from a natural gas pipeline company into an "asset-lite" commodity trading behemoth is unmatched. If you want to read the definitive book on the Enron debacle, this is it (at least, so far).

North Korea: Another Country by Bruce Cumings 

In this slender volume, Cumings adds texture to the one-dimensional portrait of North Korea presented to the outside world by the press, politicians and academics. Suffering no misconceptions about the suffocating form of government practiced by the North Korean dictatorship, the long-time Korea scholar provides much-needed context to our understanding of U.S.-Korean relations. Furthermore, New Press books are always a treat to read for their graceful style of writing and wonderful editing. Thank you, Andre Schiffrin, for launching this gem of a publishing house.

Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson

Blowback has become an instant classic and must be read by anyone who wishes to obtain a full understanding of U.S. Empire in the 21st century. It is accessible and scholarly. It is brilliant and depressing. Given Johnson’s expertise on Japan, Blowback’s analysis of U.S. involvement in Japan since World War II is especially informative.

Fools’ Crusade by Diana Johnstone

Until this thought-provoking book came to my attention, Johnstone had slipped from my radar since her days as an international correspondent for In These Times. As I said in my review that ran earlier this year in Dissident Voice, Fools’ Crusade magnifies the propaganda that emanated from the Yugoslavia wars of the 1990s and explains how the same misinformation is being used by the U.S. and its allies in the worldwide “war on terrorism.”

The Man Who Knew Too Much by Dick Russell

Spy thriller in November 2003 with plenty of updated material to coincide with the 40th anniversary of JFK’s murder. The book, my favorite on the Kennedy murder, is an enormously engrossing story about the life of Richard Case Nagell, who Russell describes as the man hired to kill Oswald and prevent the murder of JFK.


Mickey Z.'s Selections
Mickey is the author of The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet (www.murderingofmyyears.com) and an editor at Wide Angle (www.wideangleny.com).  He can be reached at: mzx2@earthlink.net.

50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know by Russ Kick

Press Box Red by Irwin Silber
Read Mickey's review of this book.
On the Justice of Roosting Chickens by Ward Churchill

Seth Sandronsky's Selections
Seth is a member of Peace Action and co-editor with Because People Matter, Sacramento’s progressive paper. He can be reached at: ssandron@hotmail.com

Capital Vol. 1 by Karl Marx

The Wages Of Whiteness by David R. Roediger

Towards The Abolition Of Whiteness by David R. Roediger

How The Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev

Blues For America by Doug Dowd

Red Dirt-Growing Up Okie, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

The Invention Of Capitalism by Michael Perelman

Fascism And Big Business by Daniel Guerin

Christ In Concrete by Pietro di Donato

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

500 Years Of Revolution: European Radicals Form Hus To Lenin by Charles H. George

The Age Of Imperialism by Harry Magdoff

The Origin Of The Family, Private Property, And The State by Frederick Engels

One-Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse

Fanshen: A Documentary Of Revolution In A Chinese Village by William Hinton

Black Reconstruction In America by W. E. B. Du Bois

Nick Turse's Selections
Nick is a graduate student, who devotes much of his time to studying the fall-out of the Vietnam War, especially Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among Vietnam veterans for Columbia University's Department of Epidemiology.

Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides by Christian G. Appy

Not only the best single text on the Vietnam War available today, but a poignant and compelling read for even those with little interest in the war or the Vietnam era.  Fans of great oral histories (in the tradition of Studs Terkel) need this book on their shelf!

The Last Days of Publishing: A Novel by Tom Engelhardt

An Amazon.com reviewer asked, "Is it a commentary on post-sixties America or some tough love for the publishing biz? Or a bit of both?" and answered, "Lets call it a page-turner with a soul and maybe the best little novel to come around in a good long while."  I couldn't agree more!

The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation (1995/1998) by Tom Engelhardt

In addition to Engelhardt's first novel, The Last Days of Publishing, I'd also recommend picking up a copy of his indispensable history of the growth and decline of American "victory culture." If you want the best examination of American triumphalist myth, or just a fantastic and compelling history of Cold War America, this book is the one.

The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People by Jonathan Schell

A book steeped in the hope that nonviolent political action can viably replace warfare as the arbiter of political power and the world. A powerfully argued and astonishingly compelling read from one of the finest authors around.

Revolution for the Hell of It by Abbie Hoffman

A classic!  Even if you've already read it, get a copy, read it again and then give it away to a comrade or someone with a mind in need of enlightenment.

Linda Belanger's Selections
Linda is an activist living in Canada. She can be reached at: Belalin54@hotmail.com

Queen Noor, was born and educated in the United States.  She married King Hussein of Jordan in 1978 at the age of 26.   This is an intelligent and literate love story that offers very human view of the Arab world from a westerner.  It would make a great educational gift for someone who is only mildly interested in the state of the world or who is not politically inclined.  The seed of my own interest in many historical or political events have been planted by novels or movies. This is an easy read that debunks some of the common myths in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian as well as providing first hand insight into the  dynamics of governments at very high levels.

Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird (children's)

This is an excellent book which illustrates the realities that Palestinians face every day under Israeli occupation. The real-life stories that are glossed over by the mass media are brought to life and finally, Palestinians are realistically portrayed as ordinary human beings living under horrific conditions. Readers of any age starting from about 9 years, will learn the true meaning of "curfew" and "settlement".   The author is a renowned British author of children's books.   This book is especially worth buying because it has been the target of a Zionist boycott.   A search on Amazon.com (US) came up blank but it does come up on Amazon.ca (Canada) at $16 Canadian - a definite bargain for anyone spending US$.

John Chuckman's Selections
John lives in Canada and is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company. He writes frequently for Yellow Times.org and other publications.

Elizabeth and Leicester by Elizabeth Jenkins

Elizabeth was the greatest princess in European history. I read all major biographies. This little volume has some delightful insights.

The Unruly Queen...Life of Queen Caroline by Flora Fraser

You think there is anything unusual about Charles and Diana? George lV and Caroline make them seem like tame stuff.

The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World  by Avi Shlaim

A bit dry to read, but one of the most important and informed books ever written on Israel. Reviews first 50 years of policy from a scholarly and critical view.

Einstein in Love: A Scientific Romance by Dennis Overbye

Delightful bits about one of the 20th century's most interesting people.

Anthony Blunt: His Lives by Miranda Carter

I read all significant books about the Cambridge spies, one of the most important and least understood phenomena of the last century. Blunt gets an interesting treatment here.

Mozart: A Cultural Biography by Robert W. Gutman

A very enjoyable book about the miraculous composer.

The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon by Anthony Summers

Summers is consistently the best investigative journalist writing. His "Conspiracy" is the best book ever written on the Kennedy assassination. This is an interesting take on Nixon.

Shakespeare of London by Marchette Chute

Simply delightful.

Dr. Johnson and Richard Savage by Richard Holmes

I read every major book on the incomparable hero, Dr. Johnson. This slim volume gives an interesting side story of his relationship with a very odd man.

The Quest for Graham Greene by W.J. West

Very interesting sidelights on the great author, things left out of his major biography by Norman Sherry.

The Dutch Republic by Jonathan Israel

The Dutch Republic was a miracle. Its spirit in fighting for freedom is a lesson to all. Its existence as an early republic, well before the U.S., provides insights to Americans who think they invented these concepts. Its art is thrilling.
Napolean in Russia by Alan Palmer
A wonderful little book full of interesting anecdotes.

The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution by Conor Cruise O'Brien

One of the books that helps nail the coffin on the myth of Jefferson as a truly enlightened figure. See also Leonard Levy's Jefferson and Civil Liberties: The Dark Side

Toni Solo's Selections
Toni is an activist based in Central America. He can be reached at: tonisolo52@yahoo.com

Constructores by Ramon Amaya Amador

A novel about workers in the construction trade, set in Tegucigalpa during the 1940s - a good complement and antidote to more melodramatic novels in English like Robert Tressell's Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Le Mare au Diable, François le Champi and La Petite Fadette by George Sand

Taken as a trilogy present a realistic (but maybe optimistic) rendition of the life of rural workers in France in the mid-19th century - Sand's compassion and commitment to rendering her interpretation of reality as best she could is daunting and impressive

The Memory of Resistance by Martin Evans

A sobering and occasionally inspiring book detailing reflections and reminiscences of French people who resisted their own government, helping the FLN in the Algerian War. It raises many questions about the nature and morality of legitimate political resistance and terrorism. When your government is run by fascist colonialists how far do you support the victims of its aggression?

Discovering The Affair of Gabrielle Russier

A collection of Russier's letters prior to her death -  was a salutary reminder of systemic hatred and fear of women, an issue currently in the news in France as a result of the high profile assault of his partner by a leading French musician - easily forgotten once the headlines fade. The appalling failure to protect women maquila workers, victims of serial murders in Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, illustrates more urgently how deep seated the systemic repression of women remains. Gabrielle Russier's case shows in a paradigmatic way the limits of patriarchal tolerance of women's autonomy.

The Poverty of Theory by E.P.Thompson

The English historian's thoroughgoing attack on the ideas of theorists like Louis Althusser, though some of it may now seem irrelevant polemic - I found it an irresistible moral argument for us to focus on and respect practicalities and the human realities of people's material lives.




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