Friends and Family,
This year’s first “Books (and more) by Friends” message starts by looking ahead. Several sledgehammer offerings from friends of mine are slated to roll off the presses in the next few months. So before getting to the list of stimulating volumes that have been released since my previous (August 2015) message, here’s a heads up about don’t-miss items right around the corner.
Due in April, Miriam Ching Yoon Louie’s debut novel, Not Contagious – Only Cancer, tells the story of Kyong Ah Choi, an overworked and underpaid nurse’s aide “who can read body fluids with the skill of a trained coroner.” Miriam’s previous book, Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take on the Global Factory, was a non-fiction battle story that read like a novel; now you have a chance to see how Miriam can write when tackling the genre as such. And there’s a bonus: the book is illustrated by artist (and Miriam’s daughter) Nguyen Louie. More information is here.
Rebecca Gordon’s American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes is a popular-book follow up to Rebecca’s scholarly examination and indictment of torture as a social practice, Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 U.S. Also scheduled for an April release, you can pre-order here.
A new CD from Barbara Dane – “At 88, an iconic songstress and antiwar protestor who palled around with Lenny Bruce, Louis Armstrong, Pete Seeger and Jane Fonda and still sounds like ‘Bessie Smith in stereo.’” – will be available this spring. Information about Throw It Away and her many previous CD’s is here, and you can read Oakland Magazine’s profile of Barbara’s “wild ride” through life, music and political activism here.
On March 1, just in time for Women’s History Month, home DVDs of Mary Dore’s award-winning documentary on second-wave feminism, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, will be available. The DVD includes over an hour of footage that couldn’t be fit into the theatrical release version; online streaming via Netflix or Amazon will also begin on that date. Full information, including how to pre-order, can be found here.
This next year will also see the release of a new edition of Elizabeth ‘Betita’ Martinez’ now classic volume De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views for a Multi-Colored Century. And available now for pre-order here is Illegal: An American Crossing Borders, by John Dennehy, who grew up in New York City and moved out of the country when George Bush was re-elected president in 2004.
Finally in this excitement-to-come section, the years-in-the-making anthology of reflections from members of the KDP – the Union of Democratic Filipinos – will be issued this year by the University of Washington Press. Edited by Bruce Occena, Rene Ciria-Cruz and Cindy Domingo, the volume will contain 42 riveting stories covering different dimensions of the KDP’s rich experience. If you aren’t familiar with the history and work of the leading radical organization among Filipinos in the U.S. in the 1970s and ‘80s and want a brief preview of the comprehensive picture to come, take a look at Helen Toribio’s We Are Revolution: A Reflective History of the KDP available here.
Now to books and other creative works by friends that are already in distribution:
The upsurge of fury and protest that followed the August 2014 police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri was a watershed in today’s ongoing movement against racist police violence. In Ferguson Is America: Roots of Rebellion, longtime Black freedom movement activist Jamala Rogers tackles the question “Why Ferguson?” and analyzes the structural reasons why that community’s “simmering cauldron of racism, economic exploitation and police violence” finally bubbled over. Order the book here.
On the one-year anniversary of the decision not to charge the officer who shot Michael Brown, Towards the “Other America”: Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter by Chris Crass was released. The book is available in print and also in a free PDF version here.
Frances M. Beal, co-founder of the Black Women’s Liberation Committee of SNCC, which evolved into the Third World Women’s Alliance, shows another side of her talents as a member of the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland. The Guild’s exhibition Neighborhoods Coming Together: Quilts Around Oakland is now at a variety of Oakland locales including the Oakland City Hall Rotunda; it includes quilts on themes ranging from “Lake Merritt Foggy Morning” to “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and is the subject of this extensive profile in the February 2 New York Times.
In the special kudos department, I’m excited to report that Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’ An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, flagged in an earlier ‘Books by Friends’ message, now adds another award to its already substantial list. In December the volume was awarded the 25th Annual PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award. You can order the book here.
This next one is not a book, but it’s not often a friend of mine gets published in Harper’s Magazine, founded in 1850 and the second oldest continually published monthly magazine in the U.S. Check out Garret Keizer’s provocative think-piece Left of Bernie: You Say You Want a Revolution in the February issue now on newsstands, or take a look at the article on-line here.
If Garret’s essay sparks your interest in first-person reflections about life on the left, here are two memoirs to fill the bill. Mary Kay Englestein, who first started organizing in a Berkeley campaign to raise the minimum wage (to 40 cents an hour!) in the late 1930s, has just completed A Memoir at 95: A Very Lucky Life, which you can read on-line here. And Dr. Quentin Young’s Everybody in, Nobody Out: Memoirs of a Rebel Without a Pause will give you the insider’s view of numerous struggles that have shaped current-day politics. Quentin was National Chairman of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, formed in June 1964 to provide medical care for civil rights workers in Mississippi Freedom Summer; helped set up Black Panther and Young Lords health clinics; served as President of the American Public Health Association in 1988, and has been a powerful voice for single-payer health care for more than 40 years. You can order his memoir here.
Just as powerful as a first-person recounting is the new treatment of the life of revolutionary icon Rosa Luxemburg. Red Rosa tells her gripping story in graphic novel form, written by Kate Evans and edited by Paul Buhle, you can order the book here.
For a biography of a different type of rebel, take a look at Patrick McGilligan’s Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane. Did you know Orson Welles was the son of an alcoholic industrialist and a radical suffragist? Find the book here.
Turning to recent revolutionary efforts, The Grenada Chronicles, compiled by Ann Elizabeth Wilder, provides a timeline of this 1979 revolution in the Caribbean from its earliest origins to its tragic end with the assassination of Maurice Bishop and the U.S. invasion. A labor of love consisting of 34 volumes, you can start with Volume One, Becoming Revolutionary, here, find all volumes by starting here, or check out the related website here.
Katrina’s Legacy – Volume 2 from Eric Mann updates and expands upon the strategic ideas that anchored his original volume issued in the heat of the post-disaster fightback. This new book “takes us inside the history of revolutionary strategy at the intersection of the Black, Third World and Climate Justice Revolutions”; more information including how to order is here.
William Pelz’s latest work, A People’s History of Modern Europe, “tracks the history of the continent through the deeds of those whom mainstream history tries to forget.” Look here.
Non-fiction is not the only way to explore the conflicts and dilemmas people face in life. Mystery stories – “detective fiction” – is an increasingly popular genre for examining social conflict, and Kate Raphael’s Murder Under the Bridge: A Palestine Mystery is an example of why. For more information or to order a copy of this “riveting portrait of life behind the headlines of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict” click here.
David Spero gives us the first two books his series The Inn by the Healing Path: Stories on the Road to Wellness. For information on Book 1: Never Alone and Book 2: Reasons to Live in this “place of comfort on the heroes’ journey called life” go here.
It seems fitting to wrap up by noting Hilton Obenzinger’s ground-breaking exploration of the “nuts and bolts, pleasures and pains, of all types of writing,” How We Write: The Varieties of Writing Experience. Based on interviews with poets, historians, anthropologists, novelists and neuroscientists, Hilton’s study is not a textbook but a “conversation, a medley of voices celebrating a craft that delights and dismays each of us.” Available here.
If that list isn’t enough, you can find more in my first 16 “Books by Friends” messages here.
For reading, peace and hope,