Family and friends,
Again this year friends of mine have produced an array of hard-hitting and provocative books – as well as music, poetry, video and other creative works. It’s a great collection from dedicated, talented people all striving to make a difference. If you still want more after going all the way to the bottom, you can check out any or all of the 18 previous installments in this informal ‘Books by Friends’ series here.
*Written by Patty Berne and Sins Invalid collective, Skin, Tooth and Bone: The Basis of Movement Is Our People: A Disability Justice Primer, is a groundbreaking work. Offering theoretical and historical analysis, it also presents concrete suggestions for mixed-ability organizing.
*In The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition, author Linda Gordon “rejects the academic’s commitment to history for history’s sake in favor of a perspective on the past that explicitly comments on the present…” writes Clay Risen in the New York Times. “In her telling, the second Klan is at once utterly bizarre and undeniably American. The 2010s may not be the 1920s, but for anyone concerned with our present condition, this book should be required reading.”
*The late and much-missed Roger Burbach’s memoir, Fractured Utopias: A Personal Odyssey with History, was just released this year. It’s Roger’s final gift to the left movements of the Americas and the causes of international solidarity and radical change he served for over a half century.
*How about a collection of stories that tucks social criticism into “preposterous tales” of spies, private eyes, bots and alien invaders? Then check out The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, edited by Gary Phillips. Gary’s contribution to the volume, a “wild fantasy tale of racialized deep-state paranoia” called “Thus Strikes the Black Pimpernel” – may inspire you to check out some of his other hard-boiled fiction.
*Al Weinrub has co-edited Energy Democracy: Advancing Equity in Clean Energy Solutions, spurring this comment from Naomi Klein: “As we transition off fossil fuels, we have a once-in-a-century opportunity to build a fair and democratic economy …In this marvelous collection you’ll hear direction from many of the inspiring leaders who have been laying the policy groundwork for that leap forward.”
*For poetry, you can’t do better than the new chapbook Poets Against War & Racism/Poetas contra la guerra y el racismo, featuring original work in both English and Spanish from Arnoldo García and four other poets who send this message: “Write your dreams for a human revolution in values!”
*The long-anticipated volume A Time to Rise: Collective Memoirs of the Union of Democratic Filipinos (KDP) is off the press! Edited by Rene Ciria-Cruz, Cindy Domingo and Bruce Occeña, this “remarkable documentation of one of the leading revolutionary Asian American Movement organizations” contains writings by friends too numerous to list.
*Rene Ciria-Cruz also wrote the foreward to Blood, Sweat, Hope and Quiapo: Rodallie S. Mosende’s Story, written by Dan Amosin with photographs by Rick Rocamora. Rodallie Mosende grew up homeless in Quiapo, Manila, Phillipines. An anonymous benefactor – inspired by seeing Rick Rocamora’s photographs that included her – supplied a stipend so she could go to college. She graduated in 2016, tutors school kids in Quiapo, yet still often sleeps on the street to accompany her mother watching her merchandise and vending stall.
*Activist and up-and-coming writer John Dennehy’s first book is now available. Illegal: A True Story of Love, Revolution and Crossing Borders chronicles the author’s experiences when he refuses to be part of the feverish nationalism of the post-9/11 U.S. and hope takes him to Ecuador.
*Fight Back!, the first CD from The Troublemakers Union, will be available next month. Founded in San Francisco in 1999 and presenting “international music for human rights” The Troublemakers Union sends this message: “Join us, for Love and Funk! Love and Funk! Anti-fascist Funk!” Check their Facebook page or email Akinyele Sadiq at email@example.com.
*For an insight-filled exploration of the history of U.S. communism, don’t miss the Berkeley Historical Society’s three-part video interview with Leon Wofsy, whose experience stretches from being head of the CPUSA-affiliated Labor Youth League in the 1940s to personally confronting Ronald Reagan in the 1960s upsurge to blogging about the state of the world in 2017.
*Policy Director at the Campaign for Palestinian Rights Josh Ruebner has a new volume out: Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State? Drawing on historical documents, legal analyses and his own direct experience, the author explores whether or not Israel’s separate and unequal treatment of the Palestinian people render it an apartheid state.
*”Blasphemy is holy” is an apt description of Hilton Obenzinger’s latest poetry collection, Treyf Pesach. Novelist Paul Auster wrote that this book “strikes with the force of an exploding bomb – because it speaks truth.”
*The truth, and how complicated it can be, is the topic of Van Jones’ latest volume Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart – How We Come Together. Deciding to provocatively “torch the script,” the author is “tough on Donald Trump but shows respect for his supporters, and takes aim at both parties before and after Trump’s victory.”
*”LGBT activism is often imagined as a self-contained struggle, inspired by but set apart from other social movements.” Emily Hobson’s Lavender and Red: Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left recounts a far different story: “a history of queer radicals who understood their sexual liberation as intertwined with solidarity against imperialism, war, and racism.”
*In the Fields of the North/En los campos del norte by David Bacon documents the experiences of some of the hardest-working and most disenfranchised laborers in the country: the farmworkers who are responsible for making California “America’s breadbasket.” Combining haunting photographs with voices of migrant workers in both English and Spanish, the volume uncovers the inherent abuse in the labor-contractor system which pervades California agriculture.
*Peter Shapiro gives us an account of the successful strike by mainly Mexican women workers at the largest plant in Watsonville, California in Song of the Stubborn One Thousand: The Watsonville Canning Strike, 1985-87. “I’ve waited 25 years for this book,” writes Fernando Gapasin, co-author with Bill Fletcher, Jr. of Solidarity Divided.
*Prison Wisdom: Writing with Inmates by Katya Sabaroff Taylor invites you behind the barbwire into the lives, stories and poems of 115 inmates in the Florida prison system. One writes: “What did I get out of this class? Expression, heart-felt, peace, liberty, the ability to exhale.”
*Finally Got the News: The Printed Legacy of the U.S. Radical Left 1970-1979, edited by Brad Duncan and the Interference Archive, is a treasure house of posters, pamphlets, flyers and newspaper pages put together in one volume. The book also includes interpretive essays and comments from participants in the 1970s movements; for instance, this apt assessment from Bill Fletcher, Jr.: “The anticolonial and anti-imperialist struggles in the global South opened up an entire world to activists in the U.S.”
*Come meet the stereotype-defying, cross-cultural sleuths in Naima Natalie Bayton’s new novel One Day in Mecca. “California Muslim Sakina Wade expects tranquility after she completes her long-awaited hajj pilgrimage to Mecca…. instead she finds a body in the hotel elevator and…”
*Lillian Howan’s The Charm Buyers is set in Tahiti during the last years of French nuclear testing in the Pacific. Against the background of a French colonial past and the Ma’ohi struggle for independence, the novel depicts a world in transition that is full of vividly portrayed characters: black pearl cultivators, artists, taro farmers, politicians, smugglers and shamans.
*Maybe you are interested in writing a book yourself but are not sure how to go about it? Then check out award-winning author Valerie Haynes Perry’s Write the Book You Want: Be Your Own Coach, This is the third book in her writers’ trilogy, an empowering volume that is aimed at equipping you to combine your desires, experiences and skills to live up to the promise of the title.
*Johnny Appleseed is the latest from the prolific Paul Buhle: a graphic biography of the green dreamer of the American Frontier, the legendary John Chapman; art by the award-winning cartoonist Noah Van Sciver.
*Ethan Young’s latest pamphlet published by Rosa Luxemburg Siftung, 100 Days of Trump, while dated in some specifics, provides important insights into the essential nature and dynamics of the Trump administration as well as the energetic resistance.
*The fourth edition of Paul Kivel’s Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice came out in 2017. This volume “offers a framework for tackling neoliberalism and interpersonal, institutional and cultural racism.”
*Jon Knowles has long been exploring the “Remote Viewing” phenomenon and offers his take in Remote Viewing from the Ground Up.
*As part of its Feminist Classics series, Verso has issued a new edition of Elizabeth “Betita’ Martínez’ De Colores Means All of US: Latina Views for a Multi-Colored Century. The volume has an Introduction by Karma R. Chávez and a Foreword by Angela Y. Davis.
*Lastly, Calvin Cheung-Miaw, Harmony Goldberg, María Poblet, Bob Wing and I are the Editors of the newly relaunched Organizing Upgrade site: “We are re-launching Organizing Upgrade to serve as a space where left organizers can discuss strategy and share organizing models that respond to the profound dangers and the real opportunities of this political moment.” Check it out and send me your reactions and ideas as we work together to defeat the racist, sexist, authoritarian right and strengthen the left in 2018.