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READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

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If you have a book that you would like to suggest to fellow Greens, regarding Green issues, please send us an e-mail. Include at least a 1 sentence description and/or review and a link to where the book can be purchased online. We'll publish your review along with your name--how cool!

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books and reviews

This section aims to be full of books that talk about progressive ideas and strategies for creating a just and sustainable future. We continually gather and organize information for this section. If you have a book review you'd like to post, please send the information to hcgp@txgreens.org.


Books grouped By Subject and then Author

Consumer Protection & Activism
Nader, Ralph. The Ralph Nader Reader. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2000.

The Ralph Nader Reader is a collection of essays that Nader has produced over the course of his career. What first emerges is the breadth of his concerns: from unsafe cars to unsafe meats to lead paint, Nader covers the hazards and pitfalls that face every consumer. But his topics go beyond mere product safety concerns to show how these problems are just symptomatic of the larger problem in American democracy: it doesn't exist. People have less and less say in matters that affect their lives, and whether it's because the monopolies have no competition or because the media won't report the problem or because the government is no longer beholden to the public, people often don't even understand the issue in order to confront it. What is even more striking about this collection is that it samples articles from 1959 to 2000, and Nader has saying the same things for forty years! It is almost disheartening to realize that, instead of things getting better, his message has become more and more relevant with each passing year. My only real complaint with the book is that there could have been a better job of editing. While each article is fine on its own, there is often overlap between articles and several could probably have been dropped without taking away any of the power of the whole. (Review by Chris Jarzombek)
Corruption
Palast, Greg. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Truth About Corporate Cons, Globalization, and High-Finance Fraudsters. New York: Penguin Putnam Group, 2003.

Journalist Greg Palast exposes the dark secret of who is really in charge of the American way of life. In his scathing book, he covers everything from the theft of election 2000 (through the disenfranchisement of blacks in Florida), to the theft of public utilities (through market manipulation by Enron and others), to the theft of Third World resources (through "corrective" World Bank and IMF policies). Unlike the website rantings of consiracy enthusiasts, Palast backs up his assertions with real documents acquired from people on the inside. His reporting is legit: indeed, many of Palast's chapters were originally published in the respected Britsh newspapers The Guardian and The Observer, but which for some reason never made their way into American newspapers. As such, the underlying theme of Palast's book is the contemptability of the American press, who accept at face value what the people in power tell them (or maybe it's just because the same people own the presses). But before you think Palast only goes after those on the Right, he dedicates adequate ink to the failures and corruption of everyone's favorite Clinton family. On the downside, Palast's hard-as-nails, muckraking tone sometimes undermines what is otherwise an eye-opening read. The news in The Best Democracy Money Can Buy is bad enough without Palast's irrascible sarcasm. (Review by Chris Jarzombek)

Election 2000
Nader, Ralph. Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2002.
Also known by the subtitle "How to Tell the Truth and Still Run for President," Nader's Crashing the Party is both political soapbox and diary of his 2000 campaign for president. Nader recounts the campaign's many uphill battles, like traveling to each of the fifty states, fighting to be included in the presidential debates, and trying to get any real media coverage. With each struggle, he points out the difficulties faced by a people's progressive movement under an increasingly entrenched corporate government and against a Democratic Party that is either fearful of Republicans or indistinguishable from them. Crashing is a highly readable political tour, but I'm not certain that it will have much appeal beyond those who lived through the campaign. Nader does a disservice to his readers by providing only the factual information about the events that made the campaign memorable: like the showdown with Master Card, his crashing of the Republican Convention, and his getting kicked out of the Debates. In describing these hurdles (and the strategies behind them), Nader omits the passion and the the frustration that made them so real to millions of participants. But while emotion has never been Ralph's strongpoint, Crashing does draw on his inexhaustible knowledge of the consequences of corporate governent without ever getting too bogged down in the minutia of statistics. There's enough information here to make you angry, but not so much as to put you to sleep. Nader's legendary vengence is present in Crashing as well. He takes great pains to call to the carpet those individuals who attempted to thwart his candidacy. And while some of these barbs are well-deserved (such as when he reprimands those liberals who slandered his 40-year record or willfully distorted his message), other attacks seem petty and unnecessary in the larger picture. Crashing is convincing in its call to reform our political system, but it makes equally clear that Ralph is a difficult person to party with. (Review by Chris Jarzombek)
U.S. Politics

Greider, William. Who Will Tell the People: The Betrayal of American Democracy. New York: Touchstone, 1992.

Greider’s book might reasonably be called, “It’s Worse Than You Think.” Point by point Grieder uncovers how public officials no longer respond to the public and how the public no longer trusts in the government. Politics has become an instrument of special interest, often to the detriment of public health, safety, and most importantly democratic voice. While Grieder certainly names names, he quite skillfully evades the typical trap of blaming one party or one group. Indeed, he goes to great lengths to show how the idealism and strategies of one “side” are often co-opted and perverted by the other such that everyone is culpable in the vicious cycle of special interest and hypocrisy. Who Will Tell the People is a dark portrait of American society that leaves little room for doubt about how big the problem really is, and yet it is tinged with hope and belief that democracy is just crazy enough to work—if we’ll just start using it. Highly recommended. (Review by Chris Jarzombek)
Moore, Michael. Stupid White Men: ...and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation! New York: Harper Collins, 2001.
As he did in Downsize This!, Moore takes another jab at the American way of life. But unlike his former book, Stupid White Men has an angrier edge, covering such dirty little secrets as our stolen election, our continuing racism, and our ongoing class war. On these and other issues, Moore plys us with facts and statistics of how bad it has gotten. However, by adding his inimitable humor to even the most distasteful of subjects, Moore reminds us that if we can still laugh at ourselves, then there must still be hope. Stupid is filled with gems (like "clip and save" coupons that remind us of the names of world leaders), but Moore's underlying concern is to point out who is to blame for the mess. And while he certainly names names when it comes to our stolen election, his saves his biggest indictment for himself and the reader. In our complacency, we've allowed it to get this bad. He proposes some solutions that are deliberately tongue-in-cheek (although, in truth, probably no worse than our current dilemma), but his real point is that we can still fix it . Stupid reads a bit dated by the September 11 attacks, but the astute reader will understand that its content is no less relevant. Stupid White Men is full of self-effacing fun while reminding us that it's time to take back America. (Review by Chris Jarzombek)
U.S. Foreign Policy
Mahajan, Rahul. Full Spectrum Dominance: US Power in Iraq and Beyond . Seven Stories Press, $9.95, 208 pages.
Mahajan (Green candidate for governor of Texas in 2000) on the deception behind the Iraq invasion, the inevitability of the invasion after 9/11 in the absence of massive resistance, Rumsfeld's orders to implicate Iraq within hours of the 9/11 attacks, and plans for war that were already in the works at that moment. More: http://www.sevenstories.com/book/index.cfm/GCOI/58322100353810 (Review from Greensweek, a weekly newsletter)

 

 

 




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