Books by Friends – October 2014

Family and friends,

The last eight months have seen another outpouring of creativity by many dear friends. I’m confident each of you will find political insight, fresh ideas and/or new ways of looking at the world in one or more of the works listed below. So take a look – and please keep your eyes on your in-box for an announcement of my Ninth Annual Marathon for Peace coming later this month.

Facing up to tough realities is sadly necessary for people of conscience these days. Rebecca Gordon’s Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States, published by Oxford University Press, offers not just a moral but a powerful analytic framework for understanding the ways that “institutionalized state torture affects its victims, its practitioners, and the nation that gives it a home.”

The threat from climate change isn’t pleasant to ponder either. But inspiring fight backs are underway. Check out A Line in the Tar Sands: Struggles for Environmental Justice; Joshua Kahn Russell is one of the talented activist editors. And for a perspective from the Global South about the criminality of developed countries dragging their feet on climate change, see Eddie Escultura’s latest in the Journal of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, Is Human Activity Linked to Climate Change?

Then there are racist killings. The just-released anthology Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence contains pieces by Jordan Flaherty, Robin Kelley, Vijay Prashad among other top-flight writers and activists.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz dissects several centuries of racist murder, “exploding the silences that have haunted the U.S. national narrative” in her just-released blockbuster, An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States. A new and revised edition of Roxanne’s memoir is also available: Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960-1975.

With the sudden passing of outstanding scholar and activist Rod Bush last December, The Griot – Newsletter of the Association of Black Sociologists wrote that we’ve lost “a warrior for the underserved and often misunderstood.” If you haven’t yet read one of Rod’s books, The End of White World Supremacy: Black Internationalism and the Problem of the Color Line would be a good place to start. Also watch for the forthcoming release of his Tensions in the America Dream: Rhetoric, Reverie or Reality, co-authored with Melanie E. L. Bush, Rod’s soul mate and partner for over 30 years.

At the end of 2013, Peter Olney retired as Organizing Director for the ILWU after 16 years in that job and 40 years as a labor organizer. Peter has been documenting his rich experience in Olney Odyssey at the on-line Stansbury Forum, which you can find here.

Leon Wofsy shares his experience in Berkley’s groundbreaking Free Speech movement in the just-released anthology Fifty Years of Free Speech: Perspectives on the Movement that Revolutionized Berkeley. You can also find Leon’s recollection at his always perceptive blog here.

Going back further into radical history, William Pelz has edited the Eugene V. Debs Reader: Socialism and the Class Struggle. And for a sweeping graphic history of America’s sexual, political, and artistic rebels, see the latest from editors Paul Buhle and David Berger, Bohemians: A Graphic History.

Also in the increasingly popular graphic-book genre, check out Big Water from radical crime novelist Gary Phillips.

Beyond Lumpia, Pansit and Seven Manangs Wild: Stories from the Heart of Filipino Americans is a new collection published by the East Bay Chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society. Vangie Buell is one of the six editors.

Chris Dixon’s Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements analyzes the work of activists aligned with anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, and anti-oppression politics and offers a fresh take on the lessons they are learning in their efforts to create social transformation.

Heirs To Ambedkar: The Rebirth of Engaged Buddhism in India is the latest from Alan Senauke, drawing on his experience within this movement.

Roger Burbach, William I. Robinson, Marc Becker and numerous other insightful analysts are contributors to the timely new anthology Latin America’s Radical Left Challenges and Complexities of Political Power in the Twenty-First Century.

Dispatches Against Displacement: Field Notes From San Francisco’s Housing Wars by seasoned grassroots organizer James Tracy is just out from AK Press. The volume explores the last few decades of battle for urban space and draws out a vision of what cities could look like if they were developed by and for the people who bring them to life and keep them running.

Jim Russell’s new book, Social Insecurity: 401(k)s and the Retirement Crisis, analyzes how the financial services industry is raiding the collective retirement savings of tens of millions of people and is dedicated to exposing and fostering resistance to that swindle.

And I end this ‘Books by Friends’ installment by noting two novels – The Chronicle of Stolen Dreams and The Thousand Year Journey of Tobias Parkerby Terry Tarnoff, the friend I’ve known longer (since junior high school) than any other named above.

I also encourage you to take a look at the dozens more books, films and other creative works noted in the 13 previous ‘Books (and More) by Friends’ lists I’ve sent since 2007, available here.

Happy Reading and Peace,