Books (and More) by Friends #24 – December 2019

Family and friends,

Here is Installment #24 promoting the creative works of friends of mine that you might not otherwise hear about. There are books, poetry and music to stimulate your thinking and move your heart. And just before the turn to comic relief at the very end there’s an update on new podcasts related to my own book, Revolution in the Air, and information about the latest strategy discussion articles on Organizing Upgrade.

First up is We Keep Us Safe: Building Secure, Just and Inclusive Communities by Zach Norris, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “A New Vision of a care-based strategy for public safety that overturns more than 200 years of fear-based discrimination, othering and punishment.”

The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender and the Black Panther Party in Oakland, by Robyn Spencer, “challenges the belief that the Panthers were a projection of the leadership… shows how the Panthers’ members interpreted, implemented, and influenced party ideology and programs; initiated dialogues about gender politics; highlighted ambiguities in the Panthers’ armed stance…”

Paper Dragons: China and the Next Crash, by Walden Bello, argues that “the question may not be if another crash will take place, but when and where it will start…a stark warning about the vulnerable state of global financial markets.”

Barbara Ransby’s latest – Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimaging Freedom in the 21st Century – “documents the roots of today’s resurgent Black Freedom Movement in Black feminist politics” and “in a Black radical tradition that is anticapitalist, internationalist and focused on some of the most marginalized members of the Black community.”

Hilton Obenzinger, Rebecca Vilkomerson and 38 other Jews of diverse backgrounds tell the stories of their journey from a Zionist world view to activism in solidarity with Palestinians and Israelis striving to build an inclusive society founded on justice, equality and peaceful coexistence in Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation.

For a musical break in your reading marathon, check out Hunting for Stars, the latest release from Dialectic. Frontman Ying-sun says it is “a loose concept album exploring loss, grief and transformation.”

Back to reading, this is not a new book but it is certainly a timely one: Growing up Bilingual: Puerto Rican Children in New York, by Ana Celia Zentella won the Book Prize of the British Association of Applied Linguistics, and the Book Award of the Association of Latina and Latino Anthropologists of the American Anthropology Association.

Dominga Rescues the Flag/Domingo Rescata La Bandera, by Margaret Randall and Mariana Mcdonald will be available this spring: “The bilingual oral history of Dominga de la Cruz, the Puerto Rican heroine ‘who picked up the flag at Ponce’ amid the bloody U.S. assault on a peaceful demonstration March 21, 1937.” For information about pre-orders, to arrange a book event, or join the publisher’s mailing list, email

All American Nativism: How the Bipartisan War on Immigrants Explains Politics as We Know It, by Daniel Denvir is also forthcoming: “A major recasting of American history from the vantage of immigration politics.”

Next are volumes that explore the specific experiences of Black women. Ula Yvette Taylor’s latest volume, The Promise of Patriarchy: Women and the Nation of Islam, recounts the stories of women in the NOI, “documenting their struggle to escape the devaluation of Black womanhood while also clinging to the empowering promise of patriarchy.” And volumes four, five and six in the series What We Carry: Stories Black Women Never Tell, from the Healthy Black Families “Telling Our Stories” project initiated by Board Chair Dr. Vicki Alexander are now available: “stories of resilience, strength, grace, vulnerability and more.”

Beyond Contempt: How Liberals Can Communicate Across the Great Divide, by Erica Etelson: “Amid liberal and progressive frustration, grief and alarm over Trump’s destructive agenda… Etelson shows us how to communicate respectfully, passionately and effectively across the political divide without soft-pedaling our beliefs.”

On the poetry front, take a look at one of Ed Werstein’s working-class-oriented collections, A Tar Pit to Dye In or Who Are We Then? “Ed’s passionate and thoughtful words, strong images, and insightful questions step down off the soapbox and march poetically straight into our hearts.”

A Democratic Socialist’s  Fifty Year Adventure, by Milt Tambor is available for no charge from the author; e-mail  This book “surely takes the cake for modesty. It is all about him and it is not about him…it teaches us, especially but not only the young, how to be the Jimmy and Jenny Higgins of today and tomorrow.”

Transformative Planning: Radical Alternatives to Neoliberal Urbanism, edited by Tom Angotti: “Argues that unless planning is radically transformed and develops serious alternatives to neoliberal urbanism and disaster capitalism it will be irrelevant in this century.”

An e-book edition of My Detroit: Growing Up Greek and American in Motor City  by Dan Georgakas is now available. “A unique blend of traditional ethnic memoir and a historian’s account of the decline and fall of America’s most populous industrial city.”

Can the Working Class Change the World? By Michael Yates. “Forcefully and without illusions, Yates supports his arguments with relevant, clearly explained data, historical examples, and his own personal experiences.”

Many of you were among the donors whose generosity allowed this year’s Marathon for Peace to raise more than $11,700 for the important work of US Labor Against the War. All are encouraged to sign up for USLAW’s regular Headline News bulletin here.

Connected to speaking in various cities about my own book Revolution in the Air, I’ve done three podcasts in the last while. When in Charleston, South Carolina I was on two episodes of Renegade Paradise, Official Podcast of Charleston DSA. And I was on an installment of Giving the Mic to the Wrong Person podcast recorded when I was in Portland, Oregon. I was also interviewed on The Grass Is Greener radio show on WXRW in my hometown of Milwaukee after speaking there at the end of November.

For all of you engaged in today’s debates over social justice and peace strategies both for the 2020 election and the long haul, I recommend checking out the articles and videos on Organizing Upgrade. Among the most recent postings are an interview with James Haslam about Rights and Democracy Vermont/New Hampshire endorsing Bernie Sanders; the Assessment and Strategy behind the Bay Area’s exciting new Seed the Vote project, and “The Mechanics of Power,” the first installment of a three-part series by historian Van Gosse on the nitty gritty of how politics works in our undemocratic democracy. All can be found here.

You’ve come this far, so now you’ve earned some comic relief. Check out the latest from Nato Green, The Whiteness AlbumAnother friend and comic, Francesca Fiorentini (I’m confident her work will be featured here down the road) says: “Nato is woke but an optimist, brilliant but not callous, and really needs this money to train his daughters for the revolution.”

Peace on Earth, Good Will to All,