Fortress America

Fortress America by William Greider

This book contains useful facts and analysis, but I doubt it’s moved many people to action. (Of course the policies it advocates have not been adopted by the Bush II regime.)

People like me who would like to see our military drastically reduced and who have little faith in the good intentions of anyone involved in it are likely to be turned off by Greider’s more middle of the road views and what appears to be his reluctance to express some of the read more

State of the Union

Solidarity Forever!

Nelson Lichtenstein’s new book, “The State of the Union,” gives a history of labor unions in the United States by way of arguing for the need to restrengthen them, and I think the case is very persuasive.

Lichtenstein weaves together a number of themes to explain the decline in union membership and power. One is increased reliance on individual rights and legal protections. Federal laws ban all sorts of discrimination, endangerment, and abuse, but the federal read more

The President of Good and Evil

Beyond the President of Good and Evil
March 14, 2004

“The President of Good and Evil” is a very strange new book by acclaimed philosopher Peter Singer. Singer is a native of Australia who currently teaches at Princeton and lives in New York, and whose many books have been widely influential, particularly in the area of animal rights. Singer is famous for criticizing the individual behavior of most of us in wealthy countries as falling far short of an ethical level of sacrifice on behalf read more

Framed! Labor and the Corporate Media

“Framed! Labor and the Corporate Media,” by Christopher Martin.

Reviewed by David Swanson

May 27, 2004

I didn’t need to be told that the corporate media do a horrendous job of covering organized labor. What this book tells us that I have not seen analyzed so well elsewhere is what the thought processes look like that lead to this horrendous coverage.

It’s simple enough to observe that the media support capital and work against the concerns of workers. But why are there read more

the best books out there

The two books that I would most highly recommend to readers in the U.S. today are “A People’s History of the United States,” by Howard Zinn, and “Labor’s Untold Story” by Richard Boyer and Herbert Morais. These books tell a history of the country that is generally kept secret.

“Why Unions Matter” by Michael Yates is a terrific short introduction to something you’ll never learn in school or from the U.S. corporate media: what a labor union is read more

A Promise of Justice

“A Promise of Justice,” by David Protess and Rob Warden.

A PROMISE OF JUSTICE, by David Protess and Rob Warden, 1998, tells the story of four men who were framed by police and prosecutors and put in prison and on death row for eighteen years. Although you know before reading the book that the men were eventually exonerated, the book grips you.

It’s a courageous, honest, and intelligent story of prosecutorial corruption and defense lawyers’ almost superhuman incompetence. read more

Freedom Evolves

Freedom Evolves by Daniel C. Dennett

Reviewed June 5, 2004

This book veers off onto a number of topics in addition to free will and determinism, most of which material is well worth reading even if you’ve read Dennett’s other work. The argument with regard to free will is a somewhat original take on compatibilism – which is a longstanding position, all of Dennett’s bluster about his groundbreaking scandalbraving notwithstanding.

Our point of view as living acting human beings read more

A Short History of Philosophy

“A Short History of Philosophy” By Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins.
305 pages
Oxford University Press 1996

Some weeks ago I began preparing a high school level course in philosophy. I’m enjoying it greatly. That is, I am learning a lot by teaching. Now something has happened which will shape the part of the course left to prepare, and – indeed – will lead me to rework what I’ve done. I had assumed that I was working in something of a void. I did not read more

God of the Rodeo

“God of the Rodeo,” by Daniel Bergner.

“God of the Rodeo,” by Daniel Bergner, 1998, is a great book, an excellent account of life incarcerating and being incarcerated in Louisiana’s Angola penitentiary, a former slave plantation on which much has changed and much has not. The book is also about the struggle required in order to write such a book, a struggle that has recently been made much harder. Compare the following quotes.

(1)”There are countries in which read more

A Sin Against the Future: Imprisonment in the World

A Sin Against the Future: Imprisonment in the World, By Vivien Stern

This is one of the best books I’ve read about prisons, and the one which goes farthest toward suggesting how they could be minimized (not eliminated).

My first encounter with the idea that prisons might be a bad idea was in reading Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish (1975). He spoke of alternatives or substitutes for prison, and also for factories, schools, barracks, and hospitals, all of which he said resembled read more