Books by Friends – September 2013

Friends and Family,

This summer’s list of books (plus poetry, music and film) by friends of mine is a powerhouse. It includes two volumes full of insight into the just-commemorated 1963 March on Washington, a book tackling the burning controversy over immigration, an award-winning anti-militarist film and more.

But before getting to those, the threat of a U.S. strike on Syria motivates me to make the first item flagged here an internet-based antiwar resource rather than a book. This week the anti-militarist project I’ve worked with since 9/11, War Times/Tiempo de Guerras, rolled out a months-in-the-making upgrade of its website. Full details are offered in the announcement pasted at the bottom of this message, which includes links to a Syria Resource List and a No to Military Intervention action alert. I encourage you to check out this new site – and I urge you to do everything you can to prevent a dangerous and illegal attack which will only produce more destruction and expanded war.

If we can stop this war, all of us will be able to enjoy the following creative works in a far better atmosphere.

Happy reading, viewing and listening – and PEACE!


For a meticulously researched and compelling history book absolutely relevant to today’s challenges, check out The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights by William P. Jones. On a similar theme take a look at A Freedom Budget for All Americans: Recapturing the Promise of the Civil Rights Movement by Paul Le Blanc and Michael D. Yates.

Any agenda for racial and economic justice today will of necessity include immigrant rights. David Bacon’s latest volume, The Right to Stay Home: How U.S. Policy Drives Mexican Migration, details the fightback side from the vantage point of communities in Mexico, and “reveals how the interconnected web of labor, migration, and the global economy unites farmers, migrant workers and union organizers across borders.”

Living Along the Fenceline, a new antiwar, anti-militarist film documentary, tells the story of seven courageous women who live alongside U.S bases from South Korea to Puerto Rico who challenge the assumption that military bases make them safe. It won the Best Feature Documentary award at the Female Eye Film Festival. Big congratulations to filmmakers Gwyn Kirk, Lina Hoshino and Deborah Lee!

The debut book from Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, will be hard-hitting as well. Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace rolls off the press September 17.

There’s plenty going on in grassroots movements on these and other issues. For a report summarizing the views and assessments of 150 activists immersed in those movements see More Than We Imagined from the Ear to the Ground Project co-directed by Steve Williams and NTanya Lee.

Ethan Young has been doing some hard work tracking progressive and left activism as well. He hasn’t written a book (yet) but you’ll find plenty to ponder in two pamphlets of his available from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation: Teachers on Strike covering the groundbreaking Chicago teacher’s strike last year, and Mapping the Left, a detailed study of the historical development and state of the U.S. Left before Occupy Wall Street. [If you need a musical break after the heavy reading done so far, give a listen to two cuts from the Gradients featuring Charlie Dore-Young (yes, one of Ethan’s twin sons) on bass and vocals: Old Habits and Something to Blame.]

Maybe a graphic history book to ease back into reading mode? Masks of Anarchy tells the “extraordinary story of a Radical Poem from Percy Shelley to the Triangle Factory Fire.” The text is by Michael Demson, the volume is illustrated by Summer McClinton, and there’s an introduction by left historian Paul Buhle.

Paul has also expanded and revised his go-to history of the U.S. left; this new third edition of Marxism in the United States – praised for its “stunning command of detail and hard-headed generosity” in the Times Higher Education Supplement – was released this spring.

Looking south of the U.S., Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions explores the recent shifts in Latin American politics and the ways that what’s been termed “21st Century Socialism” manifests itself. It’s the fruit of collaboration between authors Roger Burbach, Michael Fox and Federico Fuentes.  

Looking at life experiences too many people prefer to avert their eyes from, a new e-book, Twenty-Eight Going on Seventeen and Other Stories, welcomes you to “the world of Jacob Lesner-Buxton a twenty-nine year old man who has cerebral palsy and is attempting to be a writer.” E-mail Jacob at and for $5 or whatever you can afford he will send you a copy.

 Chris Crass’ Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis and Movement Building Strategy – flagged in last December’s Books by Friends message – came off the press to enthusiastic reviews in March. The foreword and introduction are by friends of mine as well – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Chris Dixon.

Also mentioned in last December’s message was the inspiring exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California of radical posters from the remarkable All of Us or None archive amassed by free speech movement activist, author and educator Michael Rossman. A gorgeous in-print catalogue of key selections from the archive, with extensive informative text, has been put together by Lincoln Cushing and is available from Berkeley’s Heyday Books.

From posters to poetry: Take a look at Aimie Suzara’s second chapbook, Finding the Bones; the second volume of Nina Serrano’s  Heart’s Journey issued at the beginning of this year; and Gary Hicks’ Itching for Combat.

Alan Wald has concluded his unmatched three-volume history of radical U.S. writers with the release of American Night: The Literary Left in the Era of the Cold War. Take a look at his two earlier volumes if you haven’t gotten to them as well: Exiles from a Future Time: The Forging of the Mid-Twentieth-Century Literary Left and Trinity of Passion: The Literary Left and the Antifascist Crusade.

I’m going to wrap up with two books written by friends from my home town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Double Bind: The Muslim Right, the Anglo-American Left, and Universal Human Rights  by Meredith Tax asks and offers an answer to the question: In a period of right wing attacks on Muslims – or people thought to be Muslims – how does one respond to human rights violations by the Muslim Right without feeding hate campaigns?

And Terry Tarnoff – we first crossed paths about 55 years ago now! – has published his second novel, The Thousand Year Journey of Tobias Parker, the story of one family’s peculiar destiny.

If you still want more, you can find more books and other creative works by folks I know in the ten previous ‘Books by Friends’ messages I’ve sent since 2007 on the website associated with my own book, Revolution in the Air. There may be other things on that site of interest to you as well, including the results of my seven Marathons for Peace from 2006-2012.

Marathon for Peace 2013 is coming up in a few weeks too, so watch for a heads up about that. In the meanwhile, raise your voice against a military strike in Syria and visit the new War Times website per this announcement: