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Back You are here: Home Reviews Books Recommended Reading: February 2011

Recommended Reading: February 2011

BookgenericBe inspired, motivated, challenged and intrigued by this month's selection of books.

13 February 2011

The Force
Lyn McLean

TheForceTechnology infiltrates our lives so rapidly that few of us stop to consider the potential health implications. Yet could the technology designed to improve our lives actually be making us sick?

Scientists have long believed that there is a link between health problems and radiation from mobile phones, wireless connections, powerlines, and electronic devices. Radiation has been linked to issues such as depression, fatigue, miscarriages, childhood leukaemia, and even brain tumours.

In The Force, Lyn McLean shows us why electropollution is among the most important health issues of our time. Examining research from around the world, she explains how and why we are all at risk and offers practical, easy-to-understand advice for homeowners, parents, and employees wanting to reduce their exposure at home and in the workplace.

“A frightening but well documented account of a growing health problem that few people know too much about.”

The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?
Gary L. Francione and Robert Garner
Columbia University Press

Animal_Rights_DebateGary L. Francione is a law professor and leading philosopher of animal rights theory. Robert Garner is a political theorist specializing in the philosophy and politics of animal protection. Francione maintains that we have no moral justification for using nonhumans and argues that because animals are property—or economic commodities—laws or industry practices requiring "humane" treatment will, as a general matter, fail to provide any meaningful level of protection.

Garner favors a version of animal rights that focuses on eliminating animal suffering and adopts a protectionist approach, maintaining that although the traditional animal-welfare ethic is philosophically flawed, it can contribute strategically to the achievement of animal-rights ends.

As they spar, Francione and Garner deconstruct the animal protection movement in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and elsewhere, discussing the practices of such organizations as PETA, which joins with McDonald's and other animal users to "improve" the slaughter of animals.

They also examine American and European laws and campaigns from both the rights and welfare perspectives, identifying weaknesses and strengths that give shape to future legislation and action.

“Probably the most comprehensive book detailing the differences between animal rights and animal welfare. Garner makes some pertinent points about welfare, but Francione who is one of the strongest and accessible voices on ethical veganism, makes a stronger case for an abolitionist perspective.”

Left in the Past: Radicalism and the Politics of Nostalgia
Alastair Bonnett
Continnum. Distributed in Australia by Palgrave Macmillan

Left_in_pastIn Left in the Past, Alastair Bonnett re-assesses the place of nostalgia within radical politics and, in doing so, provides a new introduction to the history and politics of the left.

Left in the Past argues that nostalgia has been an important, but repressed, aspect of the socialist imagination.

The book begins by showing the centrality and repression of nostalgia in both 19th-century radicalism and anti-colonial radicalism. This is followed by an examination of the consequences of this inheritance amongst revolutionary intellectuals in the twentieth century.

Bonnett also shows that, today, in our "post-socialist era", the relationship between radicalism and a sense of loss, and the ambivalent position of socialism in and against modernity, can be viewed with greater clarity.

Bonnett's unique approach in how to understand the left in an age of post-socialism makes Left in the Past a provocative but necessary resource for anyone interested in the history and politics of the left and radicalism.

“An eye-opening book that explains why left politics and radicalism sometimes seem ‘dated’.”

Censored 2011
Mickey Huff, Peter Phillips and Project Censored (eds)
Seven Stories Press. Distributed in Australia by Palgrave Macmillan

Censored_2011Each year, as it has for the past quarter century, Project Censored comes up with its list of the top 25 censored stories—the major new stories that were ignored or under-reported by a mainstream press too busy covering the latest junk food news story.

Stories are presented in depth, and the original reporter(s) are given the opportunity to provide updates and comments on how their stories came about.

Additionally, the project commissions articles on the hot-button issues of the year having to do with censorship, alternative media, international news, and other relevant topics.

“A good reason to ensure you don’t consume only mainstream media. The truth is out there, but it often gets buried.”

The Cultural Front
Michael Denning
Verso. Distributed in Australia by Palgrave Macmillan

Cultural_frontThe cultural front, that extraordinary upsurge of cultural activity and theory in America, was born in the Great Depression as communists sought to organize cultural workers against Fascism and crisis-ridden capitalism.

Spawned by the Popular Front of the Communist Party, the cultural front grew to encompass virtually every aspect of high and popular art in the US during the 1930s and beyond.

Thoroughly infused with a radically popular and oppositional mentality, the cultural front informed one of the most culturally exciting and rich periods in American history — a veritable “Second American Renaissance,” in the words of author Michael Denning.

In The Cultural Front, Denning lifts the lid on a period which cracks open the great debate in contemporary cultural studies of “high” versus “low” culture — a period in which artists and intellectuals rubbed shoulders with activists and workers, all striving in various ways to create a genuinely democratic popular culture.

From Disney animators to proletarian novelists, and encompassing the likes of Orson Welles, Duke Ellington, John Dos Passos, C.L.R James and Billie Holiday, Denning charts a scene which not only fused art and popular protest but also left a deep imprint on American culture and society today.

“A fascinating insight into a unique period of history.”

News 2.0: Can Journalism Survive the Internet?
Martin Hirst
Allen and Unwin

News_20There have never been so many ways of producing news and news-like content. From podcasts, to YouTube, blogs and the phenomenal popularity of social media, seismic shifts are underway in global media.

News 2.0 bridges the gap between theory and practice to present an integrated approach to journalism that redefines the profession. Key ideas in journalism theory, political economy and media studies are used to explore the changing cultures of journalism in an historical context.

Hirst explains the fragmentation of the mass audience for news products, and how digital commerce has disconnected consumers from real democracy. He argues that journalism requires a restatement of the role of journalists as public intellectuals with a commitment to truth, trust and the public interest.

“A good overview of the changing face of journalism, accessible to both students and the general public, as well as journalists.”



Books selected and reviewed by Katrina Fox, Editor-in Chief.

For details of where to send review copies, click on the Contact menu.



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