Books by Friends – September 2009

Friends and family,

It’s another year in which many friends have written and published books. And very good ones too! In today’s so-called “media environment” it’s not easy for volumes that aren’t promoted by corporate giants to gain a significant audience. So that’s an additional reason to check out one or more of the valuable works listed below.

I’ll begin though with a heads up about an interactive workshop on today’s economic crisis and a manuscript that is still a book-to-be.

Meltdown is a lively and participatory workshop that gets the audience talking in depth about the roots of the current crisis and the way the banking system really works. Put together by Eileen Raphael and the Just Economics team, it’s already been used by a dozen community groups from Boise, Idaho to Montclair, New Jersey. See an excerpt on the web and get full info at

Turn to the Working Class: The New Left, Black Liberation and the U.S. Labor Movement (1967-1981) by Kerry Taylor is the kind of detailed study of left experience we need a lot more of. The manuscript is available now at in the Left history section. Kerry would appreciate your comments as he prepares to turn this version into a book. There are other new items on the Revolution in the Air site as well: a second manuscript on the work of revolutionary organizations in the U.S. South in the 1970s, a new review, new reader comment and previous Books-by-Friends messages from 2007 and 2008 in case you missed those.

Now to the books:

Rick Rocamora’s new book of photographs, Filipino World War II Soldiers: America’s Second Class Veterans is full of the passion and purpose that has always characterized Rick’s outstanding work. There’s an intro by Rene Ciria-Cruz; ordering information is at Rick isn’t the only old friend I first met during the 1970s when I worked closely with the Union of Democratic Filipinos (KDP) who has a volume on the shelves now. Walden Bello’s new book is The Food Wars. Estella Habal’s San Francisco’s International Hotel: Mobilizing the Filipino American Community in the Anti-Eviction Movement was flagged in a previous Books-by-Friends message. Also check out Davianna Pomaika’i McGregor’s Na Kua’aina: Living Hawaiian Culture.

My friend Paul Buhle from even further back – we met in SDS in the 1960s – is editor of the new volume The Beats: A Graphic History, with artwork described as “vivid as the beat movement itself.” Paul’s recent efforts also include editing the graphic adaptation of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of American Empire, Che: A Graphic Biography, by Spain Rodriguez, and Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography, by Sabrina Jones. Another person I met (but wasn’t then friends with) back in SDS days, Mark Rudd, has penned a memoir whose honesty about problems within the left matches its passion in denouncing racism and war. Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen is a welcome antidote to the fog of sanitized history and superficial romance that surrounds one of the more controversial strands of the righteous upheavals of the late 1960s.

For a different type of “underground” – underground commix – check out Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix, co-authored by Jim Danky. Info:

A remarkable slice of history brought to life is found in Barbara Epstein’s The Minsk Ghetto 1941-1943: Jewish Resistance and Soviet Internationalism. Rod Bush’s new volume, The End of White World Supremacy: Black Internationalism and the Problem of the Color Line, is a deft exploration of the “long and complicated history of the relations between Black radicals and the world Left.”

For on-the-ground experiences in U.S. politics, and their lessons, take a look at Mike Miller’s inside story of the rise and decline of the Mission Coalition Organization, A Community Organizer’s Tale: People and Power in San Francisco. John Delloro’s volume, American Prayer, collects the original run of essays on the 2008 presidential election written by the author for the on-line column of the Asian American Action Fund.

As more fierce rounds loom in the battle for immigrant rights and over immigration policy, you can’t do better than the new reader issued by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration for a compendium of resources and perspectives. Full information on the new BAJI Reader can be found at:

On the artistic and cultural fronts, this book is not by a friend of mine but it is about one: Yolanda Lopez, by Karen Mary Davalos, analyzes the key themes running through Yolanda’s exceptional body of work, including her groundbreaking Virgin of Guadalupe series of paintings in the late 1970s. Sesshu Foster’s new volume, World Ball Notebook, has been aptly termed “hybrid poetry that is scandalous in its revolutionary spirit and aims.” And it’s not too late to see the wonderful collection Up Against the Wall – Berkeley Posters from the 1960s curated by Lincoln Cushing. The full catalogue is on-line at the URL below; if you are in the Bay Area, the actual posters are on display at the Berkeley Historical Society through September 26:

Apologies in advance for any volumes I have missed, send me details so I can include them in next year’s message.

Have fun reading, looking, and pondering…