Books (and more) by Friends #22 – February 2019

Family and Friends,

It’s just five months since the previous installment of ‘Books by Friends’ yet here is another great list of creative works for your reading (and viewing) enjoyment. It’s a long list, but you won’t be disappointed if you continue to the very end.

With interest in socialism surging especially among millennials, Eugene V. Debs: A Graphic Biography, by Paul Buhle, Steve Max and Dave Nance, illustrated by Noah Van Sciver, couldn’t be rolling off the press at a better time.

Likewise, with racism and misogyny at the pivot of the extreme polarization gripping U.S. politics, storytelling works like these are not to be missed:

*Volumes Number Two and Number Three in the series What We Carry: Stories Black Women Never Tell: Vicki Alexander, president of Healthy Black Families, is the driving force of this multi-volume project where “the process of reading stories to one another led participants to understand that together, we were addressing the principles of destiny, humility, conscience and truth and that we are our sister’s keeper.”

*The Roar of an Uncaged Lion, by Frederick R. Howard Jr., is an autobiography coming from the heart of the “ghettos of America [where] many African American youth are dealing with obstacles, struggles and undiagnosed mental disorders that influence their development.”

*”Old sins cast long shadows” is the theme of the just-released film, The Long Shadow, which examines the history of U.S. slavery. The film is written and directed by Francis Causey; old friend Don Goldmacher is a co-producer.

*In Hermanas: Deepening Our Identity and Growing Our Influence, Noemi Vega Quiñones, Kristy Garza Robinson and Natalia Kohn “share their own journeys as Latinas and leaders, finding mentorship in twelve inspirational women of the Bible.

*Beyond These Walls: Rethinking Crime and Punishment in the United States, by Tony Platt: “a far-ranging exploration… that reveals how the criminal justice system attempts to enforce and justify inequalities associated with class, race, gender and sexuality.”

*The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University – a project devoted to giving a voice to the Chinese migrants who labored on the Transcontinental Railroad and helped shape the physical and social landscape of the American West – is about to release two groundbreaking books on this history: The Chinese and the Iron Road, edited by Gordon H. Chang and Shelley Fisher Fishkin,  and Ghosts of Gold Mountain, by Gordon H. Chang. Also check out the Project’s resource-filled website, which contains another collection of essays, and supplementary site, Geography of Chinese Workers Building the Transcontinental Railroad. Longtime friend Hilton Obenzinger is associate editor of The Chinese and the Iron Road and co-wrote the volume’s introduction; he is also associate director of the Project overall.  Calvin Cheung-Miaw also has an essay on the Project website.

Next are five groundbreaking contributions examining previously not-well-documented chapters in radical history:

*You Say You Want a Revolution: SDS, PL and Adventures in Building a Worker-Student Alliance is the first collection of writings by former participants in this important section if the U.S left to reflect on the experience and its lessons. The volume is co-edited by John Levin and Earl Silbar and contains a contribution by my longtime friend (who was also the editor of my book) Steve Hiatt.  Another contributor, Ernie Brill, not only has a strong essay in this collection but is the author of the collection I Looked Over Jordan and Other Stories.

*Politics and LGBTQ History of the Filipino American Community is a focus of the latest issue of CUNY Forum (6:1). Karen Hanna’s article Being Gay in KDP: Politics in a Filipino American Revolutionary Organization 1973 to 1986 recounts the way the Union of Democratic Filipinos was “unique in that LGBT individuals occupied leadership positions; yet some were still caught between the ideology of ‘serving the people’ and giving up their own sexuality.” KDP veteran Gil Mangaoang also contributes a portion of his in-progress memoir Life Lines: Notes from an Activist recounting his personal and political experiences in both the Filipino American and gay communities.

*Aaron Leonard and Conor Gallagher’s A Threat of the First Magnitude: FBI Counterintelligence & Infiltration from the Communist Party to the Revolutionary Union 1962-1974 reveals the untold story of FBI informants who penetrated the upper reaches of revolutionary organizations during the last major period of radical advance.

*From Coors to California: David Sickler and the New Working Class, edited by Kent Wong, Julie Monroe, Peter Olney and James Regalado, chronicles an innovative labor organizer’s transformative work from the Coors Beer Boycott in the 1970s through unprecedented organizing drives with immigrant workers, often in direct challenge to the top labor leadership.

*Derek Wall’s  Hugo Blanco: A Revolutionary for Life tells the story of a leader of the indigenous people in the Andes whose work has made him contemporary Peru’s best-known revolutionary. Freed from death row 40-plus years ago after an international campaign, he is active today in exile in Mexico, where he publishes the newspaper Lucha Indigena.

For rich, provocative volumes on the today’s global economy, the myths promoted by hi-tech moguls and economic inequality, check out any or all of these four books:

*Into the Tempest: Essays in the New Global Economy, by William I. Robinson. “An accessible introduction to the theory of global capitalism, covering a wide-range of topics from globalization and the ‘trans-national capitalist class to immigrant justice, educational reform Trumpism and the resurgence of a neo-fascist right.”

 *Pictures of a Gone City: Tech and the Dark Side of Prosperity in the San Francisco Bay Area, by Richard A. Walker. “Debunking the Horatio Alger promotional blather of self-flattering tech moguls, the real Bay Area comes into view.”

*Behind the Kitchen Door is not a new release, but it is flagged here because the author, Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Center, has been nominated for the 2019 Visionary of the Year Award by the San Francisco Chronicle. The book “lays out a bold agenda to raise the living standards of the nation’s second-largest private sector workforce.”

*The Class Ceiling: Why It Pays to Be Privileged, by Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison. “Drawing on 175 interviews across four case studies, this book takes readers behind the closed doors of elite employers to reveal how class affects who reaches the top.”

For fascinating personal histories written by life-long fighters for social justice, take a look at:

*A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee, by Victor Grossman (a.k.a. Stephen Wechsler): “A unique eyewitness account of the Cold War and much more… compelling us to reconsider what we assume to be true about life on both sides of the Berlin Wall… nuanced, dialectical, and wary of dogma.”

*Jerry Path’s reflections Giving Voice – LaborFest Writers Anthology: Writing at age 76 Jerry recalls “those years on our own farm were a struggle for me. I escape to the seminary…”

Finally, this installment of ‘Books by Friends’ concludes with three volumes tackling some of the most challenging science and technology-related problems of our era:

*Beyond Bioethics: Toward a New Biopolitics, edited by Osagie K. Obasogie and Marcy Darnovsky. “New technologies such as assisted reproduction, human genetic modification and DSA forensics pose great challenges; this book addresses them from an emerging standpoint attentive to race, gender, class, disability, privacy and notions of democracy.”

*The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides, by Mitchel Cohen. “With a foreword by Vandana Shiva, this volume offers a comprehensive look at the worldwide battle to defend ourselves and our environment against the peddlers of poisons.”

*The Earth Is Not for Sale, by Peter Schwartzman and David Schwartzman. This book’s sub-title cuts to the chase: “The Path Out of Fossil Fuel Capitalism to the Other World That Is Still Possible.”

Peace and Hope!