Latest News: Archive for the ‘review’ Category

“Free Spirits” No More — CARS AND JAILS by Julie Livingston and Andrew Ross reviewed by Imaginations

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

“In CARS AND JAILS, New York-based professors of Social and Cultural Analysis Julie Livingston and Andrew Ross build on this theme, devastatingly undermining the mythology of automobiles as “freedom machines” and foregrounding the irony of tropes like the Buick “Free Spirit”. The book exposes the grim contrast between images of freedom and the reality of a society in which decaying or non-existent public transport creates auto-necessity that drags working people deeper into debt and, especially for people of colour, exposes them to the hazards of pretextual police traffic stops for “driving while Black”.”

Read the full review here.

“Who’s Winning and Losing the Economic War Over Ukraine?” — WAR IN UKRAINE authors Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies featured in Common Dreams

Tuesday, February 21st, 2023

“The losers are, first and foremost, the sacrificed people of Ukraine, on both sides of the front lines, all the soldiers who have lost their lives and families who have lost their loved ones. But also in the losing column are working and poor people everywhere, especially in the countries in the Global South that are most dependent on imported food and energy. Last but not least is the Earth, its atmosphere and its climate—all sacrificed to the God of War.”

Read the full article here.

“An excellent primer for Western peace activists” — WAR IN UKRAINE by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies reviewed by Peace News

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

“Brief, judicious and well-written, this is an excellent primer for western peace activists or anyone else concerned about ending the carnage in Ukraine.”

Read the full review here.

“Enjoyably bitchy” — ALWAYS RED named one of the best political books of 2021 by The Times

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

“This breezy and evocative autobiography, an enjoyably bitchy journey from Sixties Liverpool to the Corbyn years, may surprise even Red Len’s most bitter detractors. As a first-hand account of Corbynism it is unlikely to be beaten.”

Read the full article here.


“Parts of A PUBLIC SERVICE read like a spy-thriller, covering detailed operational security planning, everything from buying a burner phone to doing research into possible journalists to take your docs to — all without leaving a trail that can be traced back to you.” —Cory Doctorow reviews A PUBLIC SERVICE by Tim Schwartz in Boing Boing

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

A Public Service: a comprehensive, comprehensible guide to leaking documents to journalists and public service groups without getting caught

Every technical lesson is presented in clear, easy-to-follow terms — and more importantly, this technical material is embedded in super-sharp context explaining how to assess your risks and use your technological information to counter them. Schwartz begins at the beginning, with steps for getting data out of a network without leaving signs that point to you, and then carries on through the whistleblowing process — sanitizing identifying information in the files, securely transmitting them, and then covering any trace of your possession.

Just as important are Schwartz’s chapters on how to figure out who you should leak your documents to, and then how to contact them in a way that is likely to get your leaks taken seriously enough to rate a followup (both public interest groups and journalists get far more tips than they can handle, so this is every bit as important as the security advice). He also discusses when you might expect to have to go public — as with a workplace sexual assault accusation, say — and how to prepare yourself both mentally and technologically for the inevitable fallout.

Read the full review here.

“Who split America? A journalist looks to his own for answers.”–The Washington Post reviews Matt Taibbi’s HATE INC.

Friday, October 18th, 2019

In the drive for profits, Matt Taibbi says, reporters are taking sides and stoking hate.

There’s a scene in Evelyn Waugh’s “Scoop,” the irreverent 1938 sendup subtitled “A Novel About Journalists,” where hapless protagonist William Boot wonders why so many reporters file divergent accounts of the same events.

“But isn’t it very confusing if we all send different news,” he asks a veteran correspondent.

“It gives them a choice,” the colleague says of British editors. “They all have different policies so of course they have to give different news.”

I was reminded of “give different news” while reading Matt Taibbi’s “Hate Inc.,” which is also a book about journalists but with a much darker subtitle: “Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another.” Taibbi, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, writes that “Scoop” is one of a handful of books he carries whenever he travels, and traces of its comic cynicism animate his prose. But where Waugh brilliantly satirized, Taibbi aims a cannon, blistering an American media industry he accuses of taking sides and manipulating the audience for profit — “different news” elevated to a business model.

Read the full review here.

“The depictions of MS-13 as animals are as simplistic as they are dehumanizing. And they obscure what spawned the violent gang in the first place: US imperialism.” —Belén Fernández, author of EXILE, reviews A YEAR INSIDE MS-13 for Jacobin

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

The US Created MS-13

Last year, Donald Trump’s administration issued a press release titled “What You Need To Know About The Violent Animals Of MS-13,” the El Salvador–based transnational gang. The dispatch deployed the term “animals” an additional nine times in its explanation of how Mara Salvatrucha “follows the motto of ‘kill, rape, control’ by committing shocking acts of violence in an attempt to instill fear and gain control.”

Considering this motto could also apply to the past many decades of US military intervention worldwide, it seems there might be More Important Things You Need To Know about transnational violence — like the United States’s role in the rise of MS-13 itself.

Read the full review here.

“This is hardcore, down-dirty travel and travel writing. A personal  Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. A new and powerful form of nonfiction, a primer.” —The Eurasia Review on BELÉN FERNÁNDEZ’ EXILE

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

“This is not a travel book for the faint-hearted, or even a guidebook for where to go, what to do. This is hardcore, down-dirty travel and travel writing. A personal Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. A new and powerful form of nonfiction, a primer….Belén is one of a new breed of travel writers, documenting the crumbling of empire in all its savagery, and our struggle against it.”

Read the full article here.

“Now, the feisty New York-based imprint OR Books has released HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK in America.” —Ben Terrall reviews HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK in January Magazine

Monday, March 25th, 2019

Of Imperialists, Bigots and Cartoon Waterfowl

When How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic was first published in Chile in 1971, the book’s authors, Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, were leftist academics committed to supporting Salvador Allende’s project of advancing democratic socialism in Chile. After Allende won a free and fair election to Chile’s presidency, the country’s military and other right-wing elements stepped up their assault on the new government with key backing from the Unites States. The Nixon administration exulted when Allende’s Popular Unity government was overthrown in a military coup on September 11, 1973.

While in hiding from the military, Dorfman watched on television as copies of How to Read Donald Duck were burned in bonfires along with hundreds of other allegedly subversive volumes. The Chilean Navy dumped the entire third printing into the ocean. The book had been a target of the Chilean right-wing since its release: Dorfman had been attacked by an anti-Semitic mob, and a deranged motorist shouted “Viva el Pato Donald!” while trying to run him down.

Unlike many of their comrades, Dorfman and Mattelart (a Belgian sociologist who had been living in Chile) made it out of General Augusto Pinochet’s Chile alive, and Dorfman eventually settled in the States, becoming an American citizen in 2004.

How to Read Donald Duck didn’t fare so well stateside, either. An entire consignment of 4,000 copies was seized by U.S. customs agents acting at the behest of lawyers for the Walt Disney Company. And no U.S. publisher would touch the book, given the Disney empire’s notoriously litigious ways. But away from the grip of Disney, the book sold more than a million copies worldwide and was translated into 17 languages.

Now, the feisty New York-based imprint OR Books has released How to Read Donald Duck in America. The book is a bit of a time capsule, written as it was when Third World leftist hopes were high for movements and governments that could throw off the yoke of U.S. cultural and political hegemony. In a 2008 interview, Arnold Mattelart explained that the book’s title refers to Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser’s Reading Capital(1965), and said that How to Read Donald Duck can be read as an extension of Roland Barthes’ Mythologies (1957).

Dorman and Mattelart examined 100 Disney comics featuring Donald and his fine-feathered family, from which they display panels throughout the book (Donald has nephews and an uncle, but no parents, which in the view of the authors enhances the sexlessness of the comics). Dorfman later commented, “We had intended to roast Disney and the Duck.”

Dorfman and Mattelart did a good job of following through on that intention. They argue that “The world of Disney is a nineteenth century orphanage … The mere fact of being older or richer or more beautiful in this world confers authority. The less fortunate regard their subjection as natural. They spend all day complaining about the slavemaster, but they would rather obey his craziest order than challenge him.” Women play the roles of “humble servant or constantly courted beauty queen; in either case, constantly subservient to the male.” The exceptions to those prescribed female roles are the occasional witches.

How to Read Donald Duck still has useful things to say about life in the United States. In 2017, Dorfman wrote:

Certainly, many of the values we impaled in that book – greed, ultra-competitiveness, the subjection of the darker races, a deep-seated suspicion of foreigners (Mexicans, Arabs, Asians), all enwreathed in a credo of unattainable happiness – animate Trump’s enthusiasts (and not merely them). But such targets are now the obvious ones. Perhaps more crucial today is the cardinal, still largely unexamined, all-American sin at the heart of those Disney comics: a belief in an essential American innocence, in the utter exceptionality, the ethical singularity and manifest destiny of the United States.

Read the full article here

“The wittiest response I’ve seen to Amazon’s plans to build one of its two new headquarters in Queens comes from OR Books.” – OR Books and A NEW HOPE FOR MEXICO in the Washington Post Book Club

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

The wittiest response I’ve seen to Amazon’s plans to build one of its two new headquarters in Queens comes from a small independent publisher named OR Books. A faux press release sent out earlier this week stated: “Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced a $3 billion subsidy to persuade feisty independent OR Books to remain in New York.”

Read the full article here.

“The clarity of this book nearly five decades on might stun you.” – HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK recommended by the editor of Reader

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Earlier this summer, OR Books rereleased one of the most influential books I have ever read: How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Matellart, which was originally published in Chile in 1971.

Read the full review here.

“Delivered with rigor and irreverence… A lot has changed since 1973. How to Read Donald Duck reminds us of what hasn’t.” – HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK reviewed in the Baffler

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

IN THE EARLY 1970s, the United States engineered an economic crisis in Chile to destabilize Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government. Allende had nationalized the copper industry and was steering the country toward socialism. Washington’s plan, in the words of President Nixon, was to “make the economy scream.” Loans from the Inter-American Development Bank stalled, spare parts for industrial machinery from U.S. companies did not arrive, and the CIA financed a huge strike of truck drivers. During this “invisible blockade,” some foreign commodities did continue to enter Chile: materiel for the golpistas in the army, of course, but also mass culture—TV shows, advertisements, and magazines, including the comic book adventures of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Read the full review here.

“This compact volume offers an unusual perspective juxtaposing present-day Russian activities with the US operations in the Cold War era.” – CREATING CHAOS reviewed in the Journal of Peace Research

Monday, November 12th, 2018

The intensity of application of various clandestine and unsavory means – from propaganda to corruption to cyber-attacks – in the escalating confrontation between Russia and the West has reached such alarming levels that demand for systematic analysis of this phenomenon stimulates policy research. This compact volume offers an unusual perspective juxtaposing present-day Russian activities with the US operations in the Cold War era.

Read the full review here.

“More books like Strongmen are needed… Strongmen part two, please.” – STRONGMEN reviewed at Asian Affairs

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Until recently, progressives believed the retreat of liberal democracy after the end of the Cold War would be like water running uphill. ‘There is no coherent alternative to liberal democracy,’ wrote Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History (1992).

But the Marxist historian Vijay Prashad, who edited Strongmen, a timely book about a handful of the world’s top-dog, so-called ‘strongmen’, counters with a verbal punch from Antonio Gramsci who said in his Prison Notebooks, ‘The crisis consists in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum, a great deal of morbid symptoms appear.’.

Read the full review here.


Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Read the full article here.

“Caustic and furious… a fascinating book.” – HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK reviewed in Socialist Review

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

Written in Chile in 1971 by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic has had a troubled existence. Copies were burnt in Chile following 11 September 1973, when the Popular Unity government led by Salvador Allende was overthrown..

Read the full review here.

“There will be many other books about the political problems the virtually unregulated Internet is generating… few will present the historical background as honestly and fairly as Hancock has done.” – CREATING CHAOS reviewed in Lobster

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Hancock is an interesting figure. To me he is one of the very good JFK
researchers. His Someone Would Have Talked would be be on my list of 2
serious JFK assassination books. On his blog he begins his self-description 3
thus: ‘Hancock is a leading historian-researcher in the JFK assassination.’

Read the full review here.

“NYC’s post-Stonewall LGBTQ activism captured in vintage photos.” – PRIDE: PHOTOGRAPHS AFTER STONEWALL in Curbed

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

In 1994, photojournalist Fred W. McDarrah published the book Gay Pride: Photographs from Stonewall to Today, which would later go on to become a classic. As the first staff photographer for the now, sadly shuttered Village Voice, McDarrah was present in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when riots broke out following a police raid at Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn, which in turn led to the rise of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

Read the full article here.

“This impressive collection offers a rich source of expertise to those who seriously wish to engage with the complexities of the issue..”- MOMENT OF TRUTH reviewed in Lobster

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

In the swirl of controversy over ‘Labour’s anti-Semitism problem’ that has
followed Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader in 2015, the complex subject of
Israel and Palestine has rarely featured in popular discussion. These three
books offer those who wish to move beyond this largely faux confection more
understanding of an issue that has dogged international affairs since the
foundation of Israel in 1948. .

Read the full review here.

“By encouraging us to eschew glib analyses, the volume makes a real contribution to those working for justice in Israel-Palestine.”- MOMENT OF TRUTH reviewed in Jacobin

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

The fact that, after fifty years of Palestinian support efforts, the Israeli occupation is more entrenched than ever should inspire some intellectual humility among those hawking solutions to the conflict, notes Jamie Stern-Weiner in the introduction to his edited collection Moment of Truth: Tackling Israel-Palestine’s Toughest Questions. It is humbling as well to read through the volume, with more than seventy essays and rejoinders by more than fifty different authors, from almost every one of which something new can be learned.

Read the full review here.

“An inherently fascinating, ‘time lost’, and iconoclastic analytical study.”- HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK reviewed at Midwest Book Review

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Originally published in 1971 in Chile, where the entire third edition was dumped into the ocean by the Chilean Navy and bonfires were held to destroy earlier editions, “How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic” by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart reveals the imperialist, capitalist ideology at work in one of Walt Disney’s most beloved cartoon characters.

Read the full review here.

“Her cleverly obscene provocations are not attention-hungry and sensational—they are a tool to convey the vulgarity of our political environment.”- GRABBING PUSSY, the stage show, reviewed in Brooklyn Rail

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Where is Yams Up My Grannie’s Ass? When Maggie Nelson mentioned Karen Finley’s 1986 performance piece in Art of Cruelty, I plunged into internet research. Yams is nowhere on Google. As a millennial, it has taken a while for me to realize that not everything is compatible and available in digital format, particularly performance art. When I saw Finley on ISSUE Project Room’s calendar, I pushed the keyboard aside, eager to witness the salaciousness off-screen.

Read the full review here.

“A genial foray into the meaning of rock ’n’ roll.”- METAPHYSICAL GRAFFITI reviewed in Kirkus Reviews

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Does Rush suck? The answer is—well, the author answers, carefully, sort of, but by no means as much as Billy Joel does: “Here I am trying my damndest to rehabilitate Billy Joel, or at least give him his due, and try—TRY—to appreciate his songcraft,” he writes. “But it’s not possible. It’s not. Because the craft itself is so often flawed. His songs fall apart under minimal pressure.”

Read the full review here.

“Dorfman and Mattelart offer a lively and persuasive critique, connecting the universe of the comics with Walt Disney’s own unhappy childhood.”- HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK reviewed in The New York Times books newsletter

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

In July 1975, the United States Customs Service seized thousands of copies of “How to Read Donald Duck,” first published in Chile in 1971. The book fared no better in its home country. During the political turmoil after the coup that removed Salvador Allende from office, the Chilean Navy threw thousands of copies of the text into the Bay of Valparaiso; still others were burned in protest.

Read the full review here.

“This anthology spans his eclectic, curious and thought-provoking body of work.”- DEFINABLE TRACES IN THE ATMOSPHERE reviewed in Peace News

Monday, October 1st, 2018

The title of this book refers to a line in Mike Marqusee’s poem ‘Egypt’. In it, Egyptian people are filling a public square, presumably Cairo’s Tahrir Square, their images captured on TV. Much like a dream, Marqusee writes, what is happening is ‘turbulent and calm, much wished for, full of surprise.’ But unlike a dream, this is a revolution that will leave ‘definable traces in the atmosphere, like incense.’ He concludes: ‘I know this is not a dream because like a dream / everything is changed in its wake.’

Read the full review here.

“Expertly guiding the reader through the ‘toughest questions’ affecting the Israel-Palestine relationship… A complex format, that works brilliantly.” – MOMENT OF TRUTH reviewed in Open Democracy

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

A very different though complementary approach is taken by Jamie Stern-Weiner in his edited collection Moment of Truth…

Read the full review here.

“Enormously welcome… Enabling new, younger, audiences to discover Marqusee’s magnificent prose and acute political insight.” – DEFINABLE TRACES IN THE ATMOSPHERE reviewed in Open Democracy

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

My favourite writer of the political-culture mix of the current era is Mike Marqusee, who so tragically passed away in 2015, the year his friend and longstanding comrade Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party.

Read the full review here.

See MEDEA BENJAMIN, author of INSIDE IRAN, confront the head of Donald Trump’s Iran Action Group at The Real News

Monday, September 24th, 2018

At a public event in Washington, DC, CodePink’s Medea Benjamin confronted Brian Hook, the head of Trump’s Iran Action Group, over the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and re-imposing crippling sanctions on the Iranian people. Benjamin joins us to discuss her action, which went viral online

Watch the video here.

“Reading the collection is akin to diving headfirst into a freezing body of water; one emerges refreshed, invigorated, and slightly shaken: brace yourself.” – GRABBING PUSSY reviewed in Vanity Fair

Friday, September 21st, 2018

In Grabbing Pussy (OR Books), performance artist and professor Karen Finley achieves the unthinkable: out of America’s unstoppable news cycle and its disturbing undercurrents of psychosexually charged politics, she forges poetry with a punk sensibility (plus, a dash of unfiltered raunchiness, in keeping with the times), skewering Donald Trump, the Clintons, Harvey Weinstein, and Anthony Weiner in the process.

Read the full review here.

“An excellent book which reads like a novel, laced with drama and full of secrets.” – THE HISTORY OF HAVANA reviewed in CubaSí

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Read the full review by subscribing to CubaSí here.