A Year of Books by Friends

A Year of Books by Friends

June 2007

Dear friends & family,

It’s the year of friends of mine writing and publishing books! Here’s a heads up about them, starting with three I’ve already had the pleasure of reading. There’s a wide range of topics and writing styles on the list, but I’m betting that each of you will be interested in at least one of these volumes.

First up is A Game as Old As Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption. This collection of powerful essays expands on the best-selling “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins, who wrote this new volume’s introduction. Besides the solid opening and closing chapters by editor Steve Hiatt (go Steve!) and “The Bush Agenda” author Antonia Juhasz, my favorite selection is a first-hand account of “Mercenaries on the Front Lines in the New Scramble for Africa.” It’s rare to find a book that pulls together both up-close, detailed stories and a strong analytic framework.

Next, gripping in an entirely different way, is the first novel by activist, historian and resident of wonderful Madison, Wisconsin, Allen Ruff. Save Me, Julie Kogon captures the 1920s-40s world of struggling Jewish immigrants in New Haven, Connecticut with its cast of back-room bookies and loan sharks, corrupt cops and prize fighters, Reds and gun smugglers, and abandoned kids trying to navigate through several worlds at a time. Allen’s book has tremendous energy, great characters, a powerful sense of place and a classic structure where all the threads and people come together in an emotional ending. Check out Allen’s blog about the novel:


…and if you decide to take the plunge, please purchase it from Madison’s great Rainbow Bookstore (and get a signed copy!) by going to:


Third, for those in search of a comprehensive guide to the nuclear proliferation crisis – and especially the disastrous role of the U.S. government in fueling a new arms race – a new book whose authors include longtime peace activist Jackie Cabasso fills the bill. Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security? – U.S. Weapons of Terror, the Global Proliferation Crisis, and Paths to Peace can be ordered by going to:


Looking ahead, I’m looking forward with great excitement to reading Estella Habal’s San Francisco’s International Hotel: Mobilizing the Filipino American Community in the Anti-Eviction Movement, just released by Temple University Press. I had the privilege of reading a draft of the volume and it was terrific; the final text promises to be even better.

Likewise on my read-this-one-in-2007 list are Vietnam Awakening: My Journey from Combat to the Citizens’ Commission of Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam by Michael Uhl; a revised 2nd edition (after 12 printings of the first edition!) of Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement, by Carlos Munoz, with art work by Malaquias Montoya; Against Capitalism: The European Left on the March (covering the years from the Paris Commune of 1871 to 1921) by Bill Pelz; and another novel, Short Order Frame by Ron Jacobs.

Also like so many of you I eagerly await 500 Years of Chicana Women’s History by Elizabeth (Betita) Martínez, forthcoming this year with hundreds of photos and a vivid bilingual text. Another exciting book with an art/graphic focus – in this case, comics! – will be Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History, scripted by Harvey Pekar and edited by the author I’ve known the longest of all my friends mentioned here, Paul Buhle, a veteran of Madison’s vibrant 1960s New Left.

And, though it is not a book, I want call your attention to Bob Wing’s tribute to Harry Chang published at the beginning of this year in Monthly Review. Bob’s piece is not only a fitting appreciation of the work of this “seminal theorist of racial justice” but a valuable presentation of key concepts for analyzing the particular dynamics of U.S. racism. You can access the article on-line at:


Also extremely valuable is Phyllis Bennis’ new primer, Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict – perfect for giving to a friend or co-worker searching for basic information and analysis in straightforward, accessible form.

Last, my own book, Revolution in the Air, has received a number of new reviews since the publication of its paperback edition (with a new preface) last fall. H-NET’s review published in February, other new (and all previous) reviews, as well as an extensive bibliography and a detailed chronology of events 1954-1992, are available at the book-related website: https://revolutionintheair.org

Have fun reading, peace,