Books by Friends – January 2008

Dear friends and family,

I’m fortunate to be connected to a caring community that includes dedicated organizers, hard-working teachers and health-care providers, loving parents& care-givers, tireless activists, and people in all walks of life who give generously of their time, money and energy in the quest for a better world.

Among these are a number of friends who write books. Their contributions help us understand the world better and/or move us to perceive it in new ways. I’m thankful for these volumes, and I’m writing to call a few new ones to your attention.

In today’s so-called “media environment” it’s not easy for books not promoted by corporate giants to gain a significant audience. So that’s one more reason to check out one or more of the books below. And here’s another, in bell hooks’ words: “Life-transforming ideas have always come to me through books.”

Have fun reading! Peace,


*Check out the stunning combination of photographs and bilingual text in 500 Years of Chicana Women’s History by Betita Martinez, now available from Rutgers University Press.

*Three good friends wrote essays that are included in a new collection of top-notch analyses from Verso, War With No End: Phyllis Bennis penned “The Global War on Terror: What It Is, What It’s Done to the World”; Tram Nguyen authored “Homeland Wars” and Judith LeBlanc wrote the book’s introduction.

*SDS co-founder Tom Hayden had this to say about Students for a Democratic Society (SDS): A Graphic History, edited by my old friend & comrade from 1960s Madison SDS days, Paul Buhle: “My own radical journey began with Mad Magazine, so it feels great that SDS should enter the culture of comic folklore….”

*If you know a young reader who is ready for an engaging story about human and environmental relationships, then the new children’s novella by New Jersey high school teacher Terry Moore is a perfect gift. The Watchers is available at any bookstore or on-line; while you are at it take a look at the on-line environmental webquest Terry has created at:

*There’s a wealth of eye-opening information in Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’ revised and updated edition of Roots of Resistance: History of Land Tenure In New Mexico. For more on the volume, and Roxanne’s many other inspiring writings, go to

*For a new examination of the very timely matter of “liberals, leftists, and the tortured relations between the two” check out Doug Rossinow’s new book, Visions of Progress: The Left-Liberal Tradition in America. (Also useful if you are trying to get a handle on the last 60 years of U.S. history is a collection Doug co-edited in 2006, The United States Since 1945: Historical Interpretations; it includes my 2001 essay, “What Legacy from Radical Internationalism of 1968?”)

*All you poetry fans out there will appreciate James Tracy’s Sparks and Codes for both the quality of the writing and its “extremist ideology of human decency.” For information:

*Carlos Muñoz, Jr. has just updated and expanded his award-winning volume Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement with “a groundbreaking afterword that brings the imperative of multiracial democracy to a new level of clarity.”

*Undoing the Silence: Six Tools For Social Change Writing provides a host of valuable tools for anyone who wants to write for social change. And author Louise Dunlap hasn’t just given us this book, she is leading in-person, hands-on workshops around the country. Find out about – or organize! – a session in your area by going to

*Keep your eyes open for Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path Toward Social Justice by Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Fernando Gapasin, due off the press in June.

*Last, this one isn’t a book – it’s a magazine – but if you want to keep up with what’s happening in on the ground popular movements, then Left Turn ought to be on your list. Radical magazines are much-needed but harder to sustain then ever; the talented young radicals who produce Left Turn deserve all of our respect and support: to subscribe or sustain.