In December of 2006 I started writing book reviews at the website Daily Kos. In mid-March of 2016, more than nine years later, I sensed that a political turning-point had been reached, and so I decided to transfer all of the Daily Kos diaries to a WordPress account. These, then, are those Daily Kos book review diaries, written under the nom de guerre “Cassiodorus.” Readers will find their quality uneven and their subject matter exemplary. They are a testament to utopian desire in an era of late capitalism. Other classic diaries can be found here and here.
Books about global warming /climate change:
(2014) Book Review: Capitalism and Climate Change: This is a review of Max Koch’s hedged discussion of the interaction between capitalism and climate change.
(2013) Book Review: Derber’s Greed To Green: In this book Charles Derber tackles global warming and environmental problems in general.
(2013) Tiptoeing into solutions: Dieter Helm’s The Carbon Crunch: Helm’s book advocates a “market solution” to climate change.
(2011) Climate change again: David Orr’s “Down to the Wire”: David Orr is famous as an author on environmental education.
(2009) Book Review: Brown and Garver’s “Right Relationship”: this is a review of a book which suggests, in a Quaker spirit, a new structure for global governance to avoid climate disaster.
(2008) The Vermont solution: Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy: This is McKibben’s (2008) discussion of the environment and the future.
(2007) Watch the Planet Die: A Review of Mark Lynas’ Six Degrees: Mark Lynas has read all of the research on global warming, and this book contains his horrific vision of what it will turn out to be like if we don’t do anything about it.
(2007) Global Warming/ six degrees/ Mark Lynas: This is a report about an IPCC report that contains a review of Mark Lynas’ High Tide.
Books about environmental issues:
(2013) Abrupt climate change and the dead end of eco-consumerism: contains a book review of Kendra Pierre-Louis’ Green Washed: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet. Pierre-Louis is adept at finding the downside of all of our consumption-related technologies.
(2009) Helen Caldicott’s “If You Love This Planet,” 2nd ed.: A review: this is about the “Helen Caldicott” take on the metabolic rift.
(2009) A look at “Rational Ecology” in the context of climate change: This is a review of John Dryzek’s “Rational Ecology,” which looks at modes of social choice to determine the most efficacious way of arriving at an ecologically-rational society.
(2008) Off the Capitalist Path: A Look at Speth’s “The Bridge”: this is a review of James Gustave Speth’s “Bridge at the Edge of the World,” a book that advocates an alternative to capitalism as a solution to world-society’s environmental problems.
(2007) Rachel Carson’s 100th birthday: book reviews: this is a review of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and of Linda Lear’s Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature. Rachel Carson’s (1962) classic is about the dangers of pesticides; Lear’s biography tells the story of how Carson became a critic of industry.
(2007) Wilderness Against Civilization: Derrick Jensen’s “Endgame”: this is a two-volume work about the conflict between “civilization” and “nature.” Jensen’s philosophy has been characterized as “anarcho-primitivist.”
Books by known ecosocialists:
(2012) Imagine a Future: contains a book review of David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith’s The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy and of Hans Baer’s Global Capitalism and Climate Change.
(2011) Book Review: The Ecological Rift: this book offers the John Bellamy Foster (Monthly Review) take on human-environment relations. Foster, Clark, and York argue that there will be no technological “fixes” to ecological crisis and that socialism will be necessary to heal the “ecological rift.”
(2008) Book review: Environmentalism of the Poor: this is a book review of Joan Martinez-Alier’s “Environmentalism of the Poor,” which suggests that indigenous environmentalism and the environmental justice movement will be the driving forces toward a sustainable society.
(2007) A Post-Consumer, Post-Capitalist Society: Saral Sarkar’s Eco-Socialism or Eco-Capitalism?: Here Saral Sarkar, husband to Maria Mies, calls for a rather austere version of ecosocialism.
(2007) Ecosocialism against cynicism: A review of Joel Kovel’s “The Enemy of Nature”: this is my review of the first edition of Kovel’s book, portraying Kovel as a fighter against cynicism.
Books on foreign relations and political economy by Kees van der Pijl:
(2009) Foreign relations from the egg: Nomads, Empires, States: this is a book review of Kees van der Pijl’s “Nomads, Empires, States,” a (2007) volume relating the pre-capitalist history of foreign relations as it relates to foreign relations in today’s world.
(2007) Economics Behind Politics: A review of Kees van der Pijl’s “Global Rivalries” — this is a history of (mostly US) foreign relations after World War II.
(2006) capitalist discipline and ecological discipline, or Kees van der Pijl for beginners: this is (more or less) a review of Kees van der Pijl’s Transnational Classes and International Relations, a book about foreign relations as seen against capitalist history.
Books about capitalism and capitalist history:
(2015) Book review: Jason W. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life: this book offers a synopsis of Moore’s history of capitalism as based on his post-Cartesian “world-ecology” perspective.
(2014) Does Capitalism Have A Future?: this is a “response” volume, with Immanuel Wallerstein’s summary of “postcapitalism” as inevitable and the other authors, mostly male academics in sociology, responding with opinions on the question posed in the title.
(2010) Book review: Chris Hedges, “Death of the Liberal Class”: Here I critique Chris Hedges’ pessimistic vision of 20th- and 21st-century political history, in which the “liberal class” which once offered a moderating force in government has now completely sold out.
(2010) 21st-Century Socialism: Two Books by Marta Harnecker: this book review deals with “Latin America and Twenty-First Century Socialism: Inventing to Avoid Mistakes” and “Rebuilding the Left,” two books outlining Harnecker’s vision of “21st-century socialism” (as applied in Venezuela).
(2009) Ecopsychology for Capitalism’s Spell: Andy Fisher: This is a review of Andy Fisher’s “Radical Ecopsychology: Psychology in the Service of Life”, a book about psychology and nature.
(2009) Do the (Chinese) math: A review of Minqi Li’s “The Rise of China”, a book from a socialist perspective arguing for an ecological, communal solution to the problems of global warming and Peak Oil.
(2008) There is another way: “The Politics of Money” — this volume, by three British women (Hutchinson, Mellor, and Olsen), suggests that our money system is an invention that serves us poorly and offers ingredients by which we might invent an alternative.
(2007) Critical Theory for the 21st Century: Alf Hornborg’s The Power of the Machine: this is a review of Alf Hornborg’s The Power of the Machine — a book about “machine fetishism” in our civilization.
(2007) Sweet Intentions and a Faustian Bargain: Capitalism 3.0: this is a review of Peter Barnes’s Capitalism 3.0 — here I try to pick out what is nice about Barnes’s book while still lodging an objection against “more capitalism.”
(2007) A Narrow History of Dollar Hegemony: Michael Hudson’s Super Imperialism — Hudson’s book is about the history of US economic domination through monetary policy after World War II, leading to the current reality of “dollar hegemony.”
(2007) The neoliberalism-shock-therapy connection: Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine — this is my review of Naomi Klein’s signature volume about the connections between neoliberalism and economic “shock therapy.”
(2007) Critiquing the American Dream: McNamee and Miller’s The Meritocracy Myth — this book offers an organized refutation of the common notion that the American economy is a “meritocracy” in which the deserving earn success and the undeserving fail.
(2007) A cow for Hillary: Maria Mies and Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen’s The Subsistence Perspective — this is a critique of the “globalized economy” from the perspective of feminist peasant producers.
(2007) Slow Down Fast: A review of Teresa Brennan’s Globalization and its Terrors — the late Teresa Brennan’s work connects economy, ecology, and psychology in a critique of modern capitalism.
(2006) Explaining neoliberal politics through economics, or Harry Shutt for beginners: this is a review of Harry Shutt’s “The Trouble With Capitalism.”
Books on general history:
(2013) Why I don’t claim to be a progressive: contains a book review of Cecelia Tichi’s Civic Passions: Seven Who Launched Progressive America, a set of historical portraits of movers and shakers in the Progressive Era (i.e. the beginning of the 20th century).
(2012) A Look Back: Solnit’s Paradise Built In Hell: this is a book about the historical communities of comradeship that build up between human beings in the aftermath of natural and human-made disasters.
(2011): Some thoughts on progress and on Condorcet: This is a book review of the Marquis de Condorcet’s Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, with its historical characterization of progress.
(2011) Book review: James J. O’Donnell’s The Ruin of the Roman Empire: this is a book about the Roman Emperor Justinian’s ruinous campaigns of conquest in Italy and Africa in the 6th century CE.
(2010) Book Review: Tom Engelhardt: The American Way of War: This is a book about “how Bush’s wars became Obama’s.”
(2010) Book Review: Tom Engelhardt: The End of Victory Culture (2007): This is a book about “victory culture” in American history, from the slaughter of America’s “Indian” natives to its present-day wars abroad.
(2009) On utopia and progressive utopian ideals: this is a book review of Thomas More’s “Utopia” in present-day context.
General books about politics:
(2015) Book Review: The Essential Bernie Sanders: This book is Jonathan Tasini’s recap of the political background and positions of Bernie Sanders on the eve of his candidacy for the US Presidency.
(2012) Anthony Giddens’ Beyond Left And Right: An Autopsy: this is, in a way, the book that launched the “Third Way,” given that Giddens was to publish a later book titled “The Third Way” — it signals the retreat of the “Left” from clamorings for social justice.
(2012) Book Review: Paul Mason, Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: Mason’s book connects Occupy, the Arab Spring, and the uprisings in Europe as phenomena of Internet-fueled popular protest leading to, hopefully, something.
(2009) Health Care: Book Review, Do Not Resuscitate (reprised): John Geyman’s Do Not Resuscitate is a (2009) book about how the American health insurance system was pricing itself out of business (before the ACA became effective, that is).
(2008) Bad Pragmatism Pt. 2: Benjamin Ginsberg’s The American Lie: this is a book review of Benjamin Ginsberg’s “The American Lie: Government by the People and Other Political Fables,” a volume offering a cynical perspective upon politics. Ginsberg suggests that the best we can do is to embarrass our politicians and vote them out of office.
(2007) Gramsci for Democrats: Charles Derber’s “Hidden Power” — this is a book which tries to introduce the ideas of Antonio Gramsci to an audience of Democrats.
(2007) Al Gore’s Historical Template: Habermas’s Public Sphere: this is a review of Al Gore’s (2007) volume The Assault on Reason, with particular reference to Jurgen Habermas’ “public sphere” thesis.
Books about education:
(2015) Book review: Peter McLaren, Pedagogy of Insurrection: this is a book about education in the political context of late capitalism, emphasizing the theme of “Jesus as communist” while offering an encyclopedia of radical thinking.
(2009) “Education” and an old Chris Hedges column: this diary contains a review of Frank Donoghue’s “The Last Professors.”, a book which analyzes the unfortunate fate granted the humanities in an era of money-oriented academia.
(2008) Radical Teaching and NCLB: Hursh’s “High-Stakes Testing”: this is a book review of David Hursh’s “High-Stakes Testing and the Decline of Teaching and Learning,” which views the current standards-and-testing regime as “neoliberal education” and proposes that we organize against it.
(2008) Constructivism revived in NCLB’s shadow: two books: this is a review of Kaia Tollefson’s “Volatile Knowing” and of Tollefson and Osborn’s “Cultivating the Learner-Centered Classroom,” two books which advocate constructivist education as an alternative to the capitalist discipline being imposed upon teachers today.
(2008) Dewey’s Dream and Education for Social Change: this is a review of Benson, Harkavy, and Puckett’s book “Dewey’s Dream,” a book which highlights the philosopher John Dewey as proposing an activist model of education.
(2007) NCLB schooling as the wrong ritual: a review of Peter McLaren’s Schooling as a Ritual Performance, a review of McLaren’s classic (1986) ethnography of repressive Catholic schooling in Toronto.
(2007) Education, Utopia, and Power: Ira Shor’s “When Students Have Power”, a book about critical pedagogy as Shor applied it in a community college English class.
Books about Chavismo:
(2007) Two biographies of Hugo Chavez: this is a review of Cristina Marcano and Alberto Barrera Tyszka’s Hugo Chavez, and of Bart Jones’s ¡Hugo! The Hugo Chávez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution.
Books about Zapatismo:
(2008) Uprising of Hope: An ethnography of Zapatismo: this is a review of Duncan Earle and Jeanne Simonelli’s (2005) book Uprising of Hope. Earle and Simonelli get readers into the nuts and bolts of what the Zapatistas actually do.
(2008) Nick Henck’s “Subcommander Marcos”: this is a book review of Nick Henck’s “Subcommander Marcos“: this book offers readers a biography of Marcos along with a brief history of the EZLN up to the time of writing (i.e. before 2006).