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

Recommended Reading: March 2011

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 March 2011

Wilful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril
Margaret Heffernan
Simon & Schuster Australia

Wilful_BlindnessIn the 2006 case of the US Government vs Enron, the presiding judge instructed the jurors to take account of the concept of wilful blindness as they reached their verdict about whether the chief executives of the disgraced energy corporation were guilty.

It was not enough for the defendants to say that they did not know what was going on; that they had not seen anything. If they failed to observe the corruption which was unfolding before their very eyes, not knowing was no defence. The guilty verdict sent shivers down the spine of the corporate world.

In this book, distinguished business woman and writer, Margaret Heffernan, examines the phenomenon of wilful blindness. Drawing on a wide array of sources from psychological studies and social statistics to interviews with the relevant protagonists she examines what it is about human nature which makes us so prone to wilful blindness.

Taught from infancy to obey authority, and absorbing the importance of selective vision as a key social skill, humans exacerbate their tendency to become institutionalised by joining organisations which are run by like-minded people.

Wilful Blindness looks at how hard-work and the information overload of the modern workplace add to the problem. And examines why whistleblowers and Cassandras are so very rare.

Ranging freely through history and from business to science, government to the family, this engaging and anecdotal book will explain why wilful blindness is so dangerous in the globalised, interconnected world in which we live, before suggesting ways in which institutions and individuals can start to combat it.

“An indepth look at why we close our eyes to so many atrocities – well worth a read.”






Nine Lives: Postwar Women Writers Making Their Mark
Susan Sheridan
UQ press

Nine_livesIn the decades after World War II, the literary scene in Australia flourished: local writers garnered international renown and local publishers sought and produced more Australian books.

The traditional view of this postwar period is of successful male writers, with women still confined to the domestic sphere. In Nine Lives, Susan Sheridan rewrites the pages of history to foreground the women writers who contributed equally to this literary renaissance.

Sheridan traces the early careers of nine Australian women writers born between 1915 and 1925, who each achieved success between the mid 1940s and 1970s. Judith Wright and Thea Astley published quickly to resounding critical acclaim, while Gwen Harwood’s frustration with chauvinistic literary editors prompted her pseudonymous poetry.

Fiction writers Elizabeth Jolley, Amy Witting and Jessica Anderson remained unpublished until they were middle-aged;Rosemary Dobson, Dorothy Hewett and Dorothy Auchterlonie Green started strongly as poets in the 1940s, but either reduced their output or fell silent for the next twenty years.

Sheridan considers why their careers developed differently from the careers of their male counterparts and how they balanced marriage, family and writing.

“A fascinating look at historical literature by women in Australia.”

 

 

 

 



Zombie Capitalism: Global Crisis and the Relevance of Marx
Chris Harman
Haymarket Books. Distributed in Australia by Palgrave Macmillan

Zombie_Capitalism

While for most mainstream commentators the financial crisis that opened in 2007 signaled the failure of regulation and accountability, Chris Harman describes the ongoing economic turmoil as a byproduct of capitalism's inability to consider anything but the bottom line.

“An excellent contribution to analyses of capitalism and its harmful effects on our world.”

 













Post-Anarchism: A Reader
Duane Rouselle and Sureyyya Evren (Eds)
Pluto Press. Distributed in Australia by Palgrave Macmillan

Post_AnarchismPost-anarchism has been of considerable importance in the discussions of radical intellectuals across the globe in the last decade.

In its most popular form, it demonstrates a desire to blend the most promising aspects of traditional anarchist theory with developments in post-structuralist and post-modernist thought.

Post-Anarchism: A Reader includes the most comprehensive collection of essays about this emergent body of thought, making it an essential and accessible resource for academics, intellectuals, activists and anarchists interested in radical philosophy.

Many of the chapters have been formative to the development of a distinctly 'post-anarchist' approach to politics, aesthetics, and philosophy. Others respond to the so-called 'post-anarchist turn' with caution and scepticism.

The book also includes original contributions from several of today's 'post-anarchists', inviting further debate and new ways of conceiving post-anarchism across a number of disciplines.

“A well-researched and interesting book on post-anarchism.”








Change the World Without Taking Power
John Holloway
Pluto Press. Distributed in Australia by Palgrave Macmillan

Change_worldThis new edition of John Holloway's contemporary classic, Change the World Without Taking Power, includes an extensive new preface by the author.

The wave of political demonstrations since the Battle of Seattle in 2001 have crystallised a new trend in left-wing politics. Modern protest movements are grounding their actions in both Marxism and Anarchism, fighting for radical social change in terms that have nothing to do with the taking of state power.

This is in clear opposition to the traditional Marxist theory of revolution which centres on the overthrow of government.

In this book, John Holloway asks how we can reformulate our understanding of revolution as the struggle against power, not for power.

After a century of failed attempts by revolutionary and reformist movements to bring about radical social change, the concept of revolution itself is in crisis.

John Holloway opens up the theoretical debate, reposing some of the basic concepts of Marxism in a critical development of the subversive Marxist tradition represented by Adorno, Bloch and Lukacs, amongst others, and grounded in a rethinking of Marx's concept of 'fetishisation' – how doing is transformed into being.

“An intelligent discourse into the nature of protest and power.”






Rose: Love in Violent Times
Inga Muscio
Seven Stories Press

RoseWith trademark precision and razor-sharp wit, Inga Muscio explores the impacts of passive violence, abuse, war, and cultural trauma on our most intimate lives in order to uncover a path toward healthy and imaginative sex and love.

Rose breaks new ground in answering a fundamental question in most feminist and antiracist writing: how do we identify, witness, and then recover from trauma—as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a country?

Muscio's ability to address dire topics with a unique freshness and bravery allows her readers to confront the true brutality of a violent culture, then to react powerfully with righteous rage and hopeful determination.

“A fresh yet disturbing investigation into violence in our times.”








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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