Readings for Peace
Now is the perfect time to crack open a great book! CODEPINK has compiled a list of the best books recommended by our staff and local coordinators. Many of them tell heart-wrenching, transformational stories while others are classic reminders of oppression. The list is offered for you to engage in thriving conversations through our book club, or to explore at your leisure. So read on, join our book club, and let there be peace, love, compassion, and equality.
Anthropology & Sociology
Becoming Evil by James Waller. (2002)
Waller debunks the common explanations for genocide- group think, psychopathology, unique cultures- and offers a more sophisticated and comprehensive psychological view of how anyone can potentially participate in heinous crimes against humanity. He outlines the evolutionary forces that shape human nature, the individual dispositions that are more likely to engage in acts of evil, and the context of cruelty in which these extraordinary acts can emerge.
Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson. (1983)
In this book, Anderson introduces a popular concept in political sciences and sociology, that of imagined communities named after it. To analyze nationalism. Anderson depicts a nation as a socially constructed community, imagined by the people who perceive themselves as part of that group. It was first published in 1983, and reissued with additional chapters in 1991 and a further revised version in 2006. It is perhaps the most read book about nationalism.
Biography and Memoir
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden. (2019)
Edward Snowden, the man who risked everything to expose the US government’s system of mass surveillance, reveals for the first time the story of his life, including how he helped to build that system and what motivated him to try to bring it down. In 2013, twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he broke with the American intelligence establishment and revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message, and email. The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth. Six years later, Snowden reveals for the very first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it.
Do They Hear You When You Cry? by Fauziya Kassindja. (1999)
For Fauziya Kassindja, an idyllic childhood in Togo, West Africa, sheltered from the tribal practices of polygamy and genital mutilation, ended with her beloved father’s sudden death. Forced into an arranged marriage at age seventeen, Fauziya was told to prepare for kakia, the ritual also known as female genital mutilation. It is a ritual no woman can refuse. But Fauziya dared to try.
The Last Girl by Nadia Murad. (2017)
My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, by Nadia Murad. (2017). In this intimate memoir of survival, a former captive of the Islamic State tells her harrowing and ultimately inspiring story.
Reporter by Seymour W. Hersh. (2018)
Seymour Hersh's fearless reporting has earned him fame, front-page bylines in virtually every major newspaper in the free world, honors galore, and no small amount of controversy. Now in this memoir he describes what drove him and how he worked as an independent outsider, even at the nation's most prestigious publications. He tells the stories behind the stories—riveting in their own right—as he chases leads, cultivates sources, and grapples with the weight of what he uncovers, daring to challenge official narratives handed down from the powers that be. In telling these stories, Hersh divulges previously unreported information about some of his biggest scoops, including the My Lai massacre and the horrors at Abu Ghraib. There are also illuminating recollections of some of the giants of American politics and journalism: Ben Bradlee, A. M. Rosenthal, David Remnick, and Henry Kissinger among them. This is essential reading on the power of the printed word at a time when good journalism is under fire as never before.
Black Lives Matter
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. (2015)
In America, we believe that all men are innocent until proven guilty. But in Monroe County of Alabama, the color of your skin has the final word. Walter McMillian, a young black man with a promising future, has a mountain of evidence proving his innocence: he has never met his accuser, he was miles away from the crime scene with friends who can testify for him, and the accusation against him is backed by only one man who can’t seem to keep track of the facts. Yet none of that matters in the deep South. Walter’s future is looking grim when a newly-graduated law student from Harvard steps in and reviews the facts. Bryan Stevenson, a bright young man, sees through the lies and sets to work forming a case to fight for Walter’s life. But will the truth be enough to set an innocent man free? Or will it take extraordinary acts of justice and mercy to turn hearts and break chains? This gripping account of a wrongly incarcerated man is just one of many in the eye-opening book Just Mercy.
Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss.
A cautionary Cold War tale (first told by Dr. Seuss back in 1984), The Butter Battle Book still has a lot to teach about intolerance and how tit-for-tat violence can quickly get out of hand. Explaining the very serious differences between the Zooks and the Yooks, a Zook grandpa tells his grandchild the unspeakable truth: "It's high time that you knew of the terribly horrible thing that Zooks do. In every Zook house and every Zook town every Zook eats his bread with the butter side down!" He then recalls his days with the Zook-Watching Border Patrol, as he gave any Zook who dared come close "a twitch with my tough-tufted prickley Snick-Berry Switch." But when the Zooks fought back, the switches gave way to Triple-Sling Jiggers, then Jigger-Rock Snatchems--even a Kick-a-Poo Kid that was "loaded with powerful Poo-a-Doo Powder and ants' eggs and bees' legs and dried-fried clam chowder." With lots of fun and more-than-fair digs at the runaway spending and one-upmanship of U.S.-Soviet days, The Butter Battle Book makes a chuckle-filled read whether you're old enough to get the historical references or not. (And with all the Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroos still in service, this book's message is far from obsolete.) (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes
We All Sing With the Same Voice by P. Miller.
I live across the street, In the mountains, On the beach. I come from everywhere. And my name is you.
No matter where they live, what they look like, who is in their families, or what they do, all children, at heart, are the same. This Sesame Street song by J. Philip Miller and Sheppard M. Greene comes to life with Paul Meisel's happy illustrations. Children from Texas, Peru, and southern France; with black hair, red hair, or yellow hair; named Jack or Amanda Sue or Kareem Abdu; rejoice in the fact that they all "s
ing with the same voice." Meisel paints a picture of diversity that is buoyant and beautiful. Children in their native garb, from serapes to woven vests to blue jeans, open their mouths wide in song, encouraging young readers to sing along with the accompanying CD. Meisel has illustrated many popular picture books, including Jean Craighead George's How to Talk to Your Cat and Go Away, Dog, by Joan L. Nodset. (Baby to preschool) --Emilie Coulter
Why War is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker.
Though War is Old It has not Become wise.
Poet and activist Alice Walker personifies the power and wanton devastation of war in this evocative poem. Stefano Vitale's compelling paintings illustrate this unflinching look at war's destructive nature and unforeseen consequences.
The Peace Book by Todd Parr.
Today everyone is talking about peace. But how do you explain this abstract conceptto young children? Todd Parr is here to help. Like his bestselling title It+s Okay to be Different, The Peace Book gives parents and teachers a valuable tool in talking about a challenging subject. Todd+s bright, child-friendly pictures and simple, inspiring text tell kids just what they need to know:Timeless and universal, this primer about peace belongs in every home and classroom all over the world.
It's OK to be Different by Todd Parr.
For anyone who ever doubted it, Todd Parr is here to tell us all that it's okay to be different. With his signature artistic style, featuring brightly colored, childlike figures outlined in heavy black, Parr shows readers over and over that just about anything goes. From the sensitive ("It's okay to be adopted"--the accompanying illustration shows a kangaroo with a puppy in her pouch) to the downright silly ("It's okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub"), kids of every shape, size, color, family makeup, and background will feel included in this gentle, witty book. In this simple, playful celebration of diversity, Parr doesn't need to hammer readers over the head with his message.
Parr is well known for his funky feel-good titles, including Things That Make You Feel Good/Things That Make You Feel Bad, Underwear Do's and Don'ts, and This Is My Hair. (Ages 3 to 6) --Emilie Coulter.
Let There be Peace: Prayers from Around the World by Jeremy Brooks and Jude Daly.
The world's need for peace is more urgent than ever before. Jeremy Brooks has gathered together prayers from Bosnia to Northern Ireland, from World War II Germany to China. They range from Taoist and Hindu lines to a prayer by St Francis of Assisi and from words by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to a daily prayer said by Muslims everywhere. A thought-provoking book with beautiful illustrations which add a universal touch, making this a very special book for children.
The Contest Between the Sun and the Wind: An Aesop's Fable by Heather Forest.
In this retelling of a classic fable from Aesop, we learn that being the most forceful does not make you the strongest. Sometimes the greatest strength comes from a place of gentleness.Get it here.
Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story of Africa by Jeannette Winter.
As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something?and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans. . . .
This true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman's passion, vision, and determination inspired great change.
What Does Peace Feel Like? by Vladamir Radunsky.
What does that word really mean? Ask children from around the world, and this is what they say....
Afghan Dreams:Young Voices of Afghanistan by Tony O'Brien.
If the stories that come out of Afghanistan are ever to contain hope for the future, then the young people readers will meet in these pages are that hope. From street workers to female students in newly formed academies, children who work in family businesses, and pickpockets who steal from visiting photographers, these are the faces of young Afghanis who universally wish for peace in their neighborhoods, in their country, in their lifetimes.
Award-winning photojournalist Tony O'Brien and filmmaker Mike Sullivan went to Afghanistan to interview and photograph children of a wide range of ages, from varied ethnic backgrounds, and with very different daily lives. As each one tells his or her story the reader is placed right in the middle of everyday life as it is lived by children in the midst of one of the world's most enduringly conflict-ridden countries.
The Great, Great, Great Chicken War by David de la Garza.
The Great, Great, Great Chicken War is a richly drawn tale of conflict begun by those who are too afraid, or chicken, to address why they are fighting in the first place. Fully illustrated by David de la Garza when he was five years old and watercolored by his mother, Joyce Rosner, The Great, Great, Great Chicken War presents a child's interpretation of how silly people can be when they fight. The book is designed to help parents begin a conversation about conflict with their children. A portion of the book's profits will be donated to a charity for children who are victims of war or disaster.
Little Pink Fish by Elizabeth Faleoner.
Winner of both an iParenting Media and Children's Music Web Award~ offers uplifting surprises and fantastical fun. The stories are filled with frolic and play; a fish who learns to read, a monkey who teases a crab, a hero who sucks his thumb and a "hoppositional" froggy. Elizabeth's creative use of words and humor weave together Japanese phrases, charming choruses, and original music, making this CD sure to appeal to all ages from 4 up. This release breaks new ground, as it is the first to include her own original tale, Little Pink Fish, and also an Okinawan story told to the accompaniment of a traditional Okinawan instrument, the sanshin. Falconer learned to play sanshin, a 3-stringed lute, and researched Okinawan traditional culture extensively in order to bring the singular sound of the sanshin to American listeners in a unique telling of a folktale about two frogs. This is Koto World's 5th title in Elizabeth's series of "musical adventures" - perfect for emerging readers, adventuresome parents, and peace activists of all ages.
Every time you buy Little Pink Fish, FIVE DOLLARS goes to CODEPINK.
Ecology & Environment
The End of Ice by Dahr Jamail. (2019)
After nearly a decade overseas as a war reporter, the acclaimed journalist Dahr Jamail returned to America to renew his passion for mountaineering, only to find that the slopes he had once climbed have been irrevocably changed by climate disruption. In response, Jamail embarks on a journey to the geographical front lines of this crisis—from Alaska to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, via the Amazon rainforest—in order to discover the consequences to nature and to humans of the loss of ice. In The End of Ice, we follow Jamail as he scales Denali, the highest peak in North America, dives in the warm crystal waters of the Pacific only to find ghostly coral reefs, and explores the tundra of St. Paul Island where he meets the last subsistence seal hunters of the Bering Sea and witnesses its melting glaciers. Accompanied by climate scientists and people whose families have fished, farmed, and lived in the areas he visits for centuries, Jamail begins to accept the fact that Earth, most likely, is in a hospice situation. Ironically, this allows him to renew his passion for the planet’s wild places, cherishing Earth in a way he has never been able to before.
Feminism & Gender
Sex and World Peace by Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett. (2012)
Sex and World Peace unsettles a variety of assumptions in political and security discourse, demonstrating that the security of women is a vital factor in the security of the state and its incidence of conflict and war.
Loaded by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. (2018)
With President Trump suggesting that teachers arm themselves, with the NRA portrayed as a group of "patriots" helping to Make America Great Again, with high school students across the country demanding a solution to the crisis, everyone in America needs to engage in the discussion about our future with an informed, historical perspective on the role of guns in our society. America is at a critical turning point. What is the future for our children? Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, is a deeply researched—and deeply disturbing—history of guns and gun laws in the United States, from the original colonization of the country to the present. As historian and educator Dunbar-Ortiz explains, in order to understand the current obstacles to gun control, we must understand the history of U.S. guns, from their role in the "settling of America" and the early formation of the new nation, and continuing up to the present.
Notes on a Foreign Country by Suzy Hansen. (2017)
A Pulitzer finalist and winner of the Overseas Press Club of America’s Cornelius Ryan Award, Suzy Hansen’s first book opens with a quote from Abraham Joshua Heschel that could haunt every American psyche today: “Some are guilty, while all are responsible.” As Hansen comes to terms with her country’s legacy abroad, the fable of American exceptionalism unravels and renders bare the naivete at its core. Part-memoir, part-journalism, part historical non-fiction, the book is littered with references to James Baldwin, Hansen’s favorite author who, in her own words, “was the first person to explain who I was: a white American with a lot to learn.” A rare reckoning with both racism at home and imperialism abroad, Notes on a Foreign Country lays bare the strident dissonance in how Americans perceive themselves versus how they are seen by the rest of the world.
Unraveling the Puzzle of the Los Angeles Times (Daniel Silver, 2018)
As the fourth largest newspaper in the United States, Daniel Silver poses the question - is the Los Angeles Times doing their job? That is the question this book strives to answer. This book is a collection of letters to the editor of the Times, which includes constant pleas for them to report the news.
Warmth of Other Suns, the Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. (2010)
In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.
Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas By Roberto Lovato. (2020)
Journalist Lovato’s raw memoir moves from his youth in 1970s California to his time in war-torn El Salvador. He writes unflinchingly about extreme poverty and the trauma of violence and war in a way that is at once extremely personal, expansive and timely.
Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America by Juan Gonzalez. (2012)
The first new edition in ten years of this important study of Latinos in U.S. history, Harvest of Empire spans five centuries-from the first New World colonies to the first decade of the new millennium. Latinos are now the largest minority group in the United States, and their impact on American popular culture-from food to entertainment to literature-is greater than ever. Featuring family portraits of real- life immigrant Latino pioneers, as well as accounts of the events and conditions that compelled them to leave their homelands, Harvest of Empire is required reading for anyone wishing to understand the history and legacy of this increasingly influential group.
The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Lifeby Lauren Markham. (2018)
The deeply reported story of identical twin brothers who escape El Salvador’s violence to build new lives in California—fighting to survive, to stay, and to belong.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. (2013)
Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings―asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass―offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.
International and World Politics
Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran by Medea Benjamin (2018)
When the Iran nuclear agreement was signed by President Obama in 2015, the world breathed a sigh of relief. Iran would not get nuclear weapons, relations between the Iran and the West would improve, and the moderates in Iran were empowered over the hard-liners. Then came President Trump, throwing US-Iranian relations into turmoil.
In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power by Alfred W. McCoy (2017)
In a completely original analysis, prize-winning historian Alfred W. McCoy explores America’s rise as a world power—from the 1890s through the Cold War—and its bid to extend its hegemony deep into the twenty-first century through a fusion of cyberwar, space warfare, trade pacts, and military alliances. McCoy then analyzes the marquee instruments of US hegemony—covert intervention, client elites, psychological torture, and worldwide surveillance. Peeling back layers of secrecy, McCoy exposes a military and economic battle for global domination fought in the shadows, largely unknown to those outside the highest rungs of power.
Marxism, Orientalism, Cosmopolitanism by Gilbert Achcar (2013)
Erudite, incisive, and innovative, the essays provide an insightful examination of key themes in Middle East and Marxist scholarship.
In this collection of essays, Gilbert Achcar examines the controversial relationship of Marxism to religion, to Orientalism and its critique by Edward Said, and to the concept of cosmopolitanism.
A compelling range of issues is discussed within these pages, including a comparative assessment of Christian liberation theology and Islamic fundamentalism; Orientalism in reverse”, which can take the form of an apology for Islamic fundamentalism; the evolution of Marx’s appraisal of non-Western societies; and the vagaries of cosmopolitanism” up to our present era of globalization.
These essays provide a major contribution to the critical discussion of Marxism, Orientalism and cosmopolitanism, and illuminate the relationships between all three.
US Foreign Policy and the Crisis of Humanity (Daniel Silver, 2020)
US foreign policy, as is amply demonstrated and documented in this book, is a criminal enterprise, a disease that hundreds of millions of people around the world are suffering from. The antidote to this poison lies in the education of the American general public, who hold the key to release huge masses of people from their suffering. Opinion polls show conclusively that the American general public's ethical sensibilities are an existential threat to a good portion of our Foreign Policy and Security establishment, who, if the general public's will prevailed, would have to pack up and find something else to do with their lives. This is the reason why what is done in our name is done under a cloak of secrecy - for our "National Security". This book shows how we can and must redefine our approach to National Security. Indeed, our real National Security depends on it.
Israel & Palestine
Boycott, Divest, Sanctions - The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights by Omar Barghouti (2011)
As international awareness of the apartheid nature of Israel grows, Omar Barghouti offers a manifesto for winning Palestinian civil rights.
THIRTY YEARS ago, an international movement utilizing boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) tactics rose in solidarity with those suffering under the brutal apartheid regime of South Africa. The historic acts of BDS activists from around the world isolated South Africa as a pariah state and heralded the end of apartheid.
Now, as awareness of the apartheid nature of the State of Israel continues to grow, Omar Barghouti, founding member of the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, presents a renewed call to action. Aimed at forcing the State of Israel to uphold international law and universal human rights for the Palestinian people, here is a manifesto for change.
Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel by Max Blumenthal (2013)
In Goliath, New York Times bestselling author Max Blumenthal takes us on a journey through the badlands and high roads of Israel-Palestine, painting a startling portrait of Israeli society under the siege of increasingly authoritarian politics as the occupation of the Palestinians deepens. Beginning with the national elections carried out during Israel's war on Gaza in 2008-09, which brought into power the country's most right-wing government to date, Blumenthal tells the story of Israel in the wake of the collapse of the Oslo peace process. As Blumenthal reveals, Israel has become a country where right-wing leaders like Avigdor Lieberman and Bibi Netanyahu are sacrificing democracy on the altar of their power politics; where the loyal opposition largely and passively stands aside and watches the organized assault on civil liberties; where state-funded Orthodox rabbis publish books that provide instructions on how and when to kill Gentiles; where half of Jewish youth declare their refusal to sit in a classroom with an Arab; and where mob violence targets Palestinians and African asylum seekers scapegoated by leading government officials as "demographic threats." Immersing himself like few other journalists inside the world of hardline political leaders and movements, Blumenthal interviews the demagogues and divas in their homes, in the Knesset, and in the watering holes where their young acolytes hang out, and speaks with those political leaders behind the organized assault on civil liberties. As his journey deepens, he painstakingly reports on the occupied Palestinians challenging schemes of demographic separation through unarmed protest. He talks at length to the leaders and youth of Palestinian society inside Israel now targeted by security service dragnets and legislation suppressing their speech, and provides in-depth reporting on the small band of Jewish Israeli dissidents who have shaken off a conformist mindset that permeates the media, schools, and the military.
Exit Westby Mohsin Hamid. (2018)
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.
Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at Warby Leymah Gbowee, Carol Mithers. (2011)
In a time of death and terror, Leymah Gbowee brought Liberia's women together--and together they led a nation to peace. As a young woman, Gbowee was broken by the Liberian civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of countless relatives and friends. As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn her bitterness into action, propelled by her realization that it is women who suffer most during conflicts--and that the power of women working together can create an unstoppable force. In 2003, the passionate and charismatic Gbowee helped organize and then led the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting Liberia's ruthless president and rebel warlords, and even held a sex strike. With an army of women, Gbowee helped lead her nation to peace.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. (1968)
This book is considered one of the foundational texts of critical pedagogy, and proposes a pedagogy with a new relationship between teacher, student, and society. Dedicated to the oppressed and based on his own experience helping Brazilian adults to read and write, Freire includes a detailed Marxist class analysis in his exploration of the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized. In the book, Freire calls traditional pedagogy the "banking model of education" because it treats the student as an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge, like a piggy bank. He argues that pedagogy should instead treat the learner as a co-creator of knowledge
Politics & Government
Emergent Strategy Shaping Change, Changing Worldsby Adrienne Maree Brown. (2017)
Inspired by Octavia Butler's explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This is a resolutely materialist “spirituality” based equally on science and science fiction, a visionary incantation to transform that which ultimately transforms us.
The Democrats: A Critical History by Lance Selfa (2012)
Offering a broad historical perspective, Selfa shows how the Democratic Party has time and again betrayed the aspirations of ordinary people while pursuing an agenda favorable to Wall Street and U.S. imperial ambitions.
He examines the relationship between party leaders and social movements, from the civil rights struggle to the movement to end the Iraq war; reveals the unhappy marriage between U.S. labor and the party of the people;” and assesses the mixed record of attempts to build a third-party alternative.
Further, Selfa argues that the Democrats’ record of backing the rich and breaking promises to its voting base is not a recent departure from an otherwise laudable past, but results from its role as one of two parties serving the interests of the U.S. establishment.
The Management of Savagery by Max Blumenthal. (2019)
Max Blumenthal excavates the real story behind America’s dealing with the world and shows how the extremist forces that now threaten peace across the globe are the inevitable flowering of America’s imperial designs. Washington’s secret funding of the mujahedin provoked the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. With guns and money, the United States has ever since sustained the extremists, including Osama Bin Laden, who have become its enemies. The Pentagon has trained and armed jihadist elements in Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya; it has launched military interventions to change regimes in the Middle East. In doing so, it created fertile ground for the Islamic State and brought foreign conflicts home to American soil. These failed wars abroad have made the United States more vulnerable to both terrorism as well as native ultra-nationalism. The Trump presidency is the inevitable consequence of neoconservative imperialism in the post–Cold War age. Trump’s dealings in the Middle East are likely only to exacerbate the situation.
America: The Farewell Tour by Chris Hedges. (2019)
America, says Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Chris Hedges, is convulsed by an array of pathologies that have arisen out of profound hopelessness, a bitter despair, and a civil society that has ceased to function. The opioid crisis; the retreat into gambling to cope with economic distress; the pornification of culture; the rise of magical thinking; the celebration of sadism, hate, and plagues of suicides are the physical manifestations of a society that is being ravaged by corporate pillage and a failed democracy. As our society unravels, we also face global upheaval caused by catastrophic climate change. All these ills presage a frightening reconfiguration of the nation and the planet. Donald Trump rode this disenchantment to power. In his “forceful and direct” (Publishers Weekly) America: The Farewell Tour, Hedges argues that neither political party, now captured by corporate power, addresses the systemic problem.
Rich People Things - Real-Life Secrets of the Predator Class by Chris Lehmann (2011)
Keeping up with the American elite can be tiring. This is the layman's guide to how the wealthy maintain control.
In Rich People Things, Chris Lehmann lays bare the various dogmas and delusions that prop up plutocratic rule in the post-meltdown age. It's a humorous and harrowing tale of warped populism, phony reform, and blind deference to the nation's financial elite. As the author explains, American class privilege is very much like the idea of sex in a Catholic school- it's not supposed to exist in the first place, but once it presents itself in your mind's eye, you realize that it's everywhere.
A concise and easy-to-use guide, Rich People Things catalogs the fortifications that shelter the opulent from the resentments of the hoi polloi. From ideological stanchions such as the Free Market through the castellation of media including The New York Times and Wired magazine, to gatekeepers such as David Brooks, Steve Forbes, and Alan Greenspan, Lehmann covers the vast array of comforting and comprehensive protections that allow the über-privileged to maintain their iron grip on almost half of America's wealth. With chapters on Malcolm Gladwell, the Supreme Court, the memoir, and more, no one is spared from Lehmann's pointed prose.
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y Davis (2016)
In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world.
Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today's struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyzes today's struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine.
Facing a world of outrageous injustice, Davis challenges us to imagine and build the movement for human liberation. And in doing so, she reminds us that "Freedom is a constant struggle."
The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee Boggs (2012)
The pioneering Asian American labor organizer and writer’s vision for intersectional and anti-racist activism.
Politics of Privacy & Surveillance
No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald (2014)
In May 2013, Glenn Greenwald set out for Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have astonishing evidence of pervasive government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the twenty-nine-year-old NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and his revelations about the agency's widespread, systemic overreach proved to be some of the most explosive and consequential news in recent history, triggering a fierce debate over national security and information privacy. Now Greenwald fits all the pieces together, recounting his high-intensity eleven-day trip to Hong Kong, examining the broader implications of the surveillance detailed in his reporting for The Guardian, and revealing fresh information on the NSA's unprecedented abuse of power with documents from the Snowden archive. Fearless and incisive, No Place to Hide has already sparked outrage around the globe and been hailed by voices across the political spectrum as an essential contribution to our understanding of the U.S. surveillance state.
Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World by Tom Engelhardt (Foreword by Glenn Greenwald) (2014)
In 1964, a book entitled The Invisible Government shocked Americans with its revelations of a growing world of intelligence agencies playing fast and loose around the planet, a secret government lodged inside the one they knew that even the president didn't fully control. Almost half a century later, everything about that "invisible government" has grown vastly larger, more disturbing, and far more visible. In his new book, Tom Engelhardt takes in something new under the sun: what is no longer, as in the 1960s, a national security state, but a global security one, fighting secret wars that have turned the president into an assassin-in-chief. Shadow Government offers a powerful survey of a democracy of the wealthy that your grandparents wouldn't have recognized.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff (2018)
In this masterwork of original thinking and research, Shoshana Zuboff provides startling insights into the phenomenon that she has named surveillance capitalism. The stakes could not be higher: a global architecture of behavior modification threatens human nature in the twenty-first century just as industrial capitalism disfigured the natural world in the twentieth. Zuboff vividly brings to life the consequences as surveillance capitalism advances from Silicon Valley into every economic sector. Vast wealth and power are accumulated in ominous new "behavioral futures markets," where predictions about our behavior are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new "means of behavioral modification." The threat has shifted from a totalitarian Big Brother state to a ubiquitous digital architecture: a "Big Other" operating in the interests of surveillance capital. Here is the crucible of an unprecedented form of power marked by extreme concentrations of knowledge and free from democratic oversight. Zuboff's comprehensive and moving analysis lays bare the threats to twenty-first century society: a controlled "hive" of total connection that seduces with promises of total certainty for maximum profit — at the expense of democracy, freedom, and our human future. With little resistance from law or society, surveillance capitalism is on the verge of dominating the social order and shaping the digital future — if we let it.
War and Militarism
The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government's Secret Drone Warfare Program by Jeremy Scahill. (2016)
Drones are a tool, not a policy. The policy is assassination. But drone strikes often kill people other than the intended target. These deaths, which have included women and children, dwarf the number of actual combatants who have been assassinated by drones. They have generated anger toward the United States among foreign populations and have even become a recruiting tool for jihadists. The first drone strike outside a declared war zone was conducted more than twelve years ago, but it was not until May 2013 that the White House released a set of standards and procedures for conducting such strikes. However, there was no explanation of the internal process used to determine whether a suspect should be killed without being indicted or tried, even if that suspect is an American citizen. The implicit message of the Obama administration has been: Trust, but don’t verify.
Prophets of War Lockheed Martin & the Making of the Military-Industrial Complexby William D Hartung. (2010)
A hard-hitting exposé of the worlds largest and richest military contractor
The Plot to Attack Iran: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Iranby Dan Kovalik. (2018)
In The Plot to Attack Iran, critically acclaimed author Dan Kovalik exposes what Americans have known about the Islamic Republic is largely based on propaganda. The 1953 coup that deposed the democratically-elected prime minister for a US-selected shah? Sold to average American citizens as a necessity to protect democracy and guard against communism. In truth, it was America’s lust for Iranian oil and power that installed the tyrannical shah. The Iranian hostage crisis that miraculously ended with Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as president? Evidence shows that Reagan negotiated with the hostage-takers to hold the hostages until his inauguration. Iran, once known as Persia, is one of the oldest nations on earth. It has a rich history and a unique culture, and is bordered by seven countries, the Caspian Sea, and the Persian Gulf. It is literally the intersection of many countries and many worlds. It has a population of eighty million people and occupies a space nearly the size of Alaska, the largest US state; it is the seventeenth largest country in the world. Over the past century, Iran’s greatest resource, and at the same time its greatest curse, has been its oil. For it is oil that has caused the United States and other world powers to systematically attempt to destroy Iran. After a greedy Iranian monarch sold all of Iran’s oil and natural gas reserves to a British financier in 1901, the West started just one of its many invasions and exploitations of the country.
Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism
How can we humanize each other and act as responsible global citizens? Stop the Next War Now, edited by renowned peace activists Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans, shares expert insight on the issues and powers-that-be that can lead us to war - including the media, our elected politicians, global militarization, and the pending scarcity of national resources. It aims to educate and reflect on the effectiveness of peace-movement activities and offers hope, through shared ideas, action steps, and practical checklists to transition from a culture of violence to a culture of peace.
More than 70 of the world's most visionary experts and activists contribute to this new collection of essays about how the global peace movement can successfully stop the next war. Edited by CODEPINK cofounders Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans, with a Forward by Alice Walker and an Introduction by Arundhati Roy, the book offers a time-sensitive, poignant, and practical examination of the increasing world threat of more war and violence; and provides tools that range from changes we can make in our daily lives to ways we can rally the millions of people who support nonviolence to actually take action.
Published by Inner Ocean, Stop the Next War Now captures not only the expertise of policy makers but also the insights of those who have experienced the effects of war firsthand.
War with Russia? by Stephen F. Cohen. (2018)
America is in a new Cold War with Russia even more dangerous than the one the world barely survived in the twentieth century. The Soviet Union is gone, but the two nuclear superpowers are again locked in political and military confrontations, now from Ukraine to Syria. All of this is exacerbated by Washington’s war-like demonizing of the Kremlin leadership and by Russiagate’s unprecedented allegations. US mainstream media accounts are highly selective and seriously misleading. American “disinformation,” not only Russian, is a growing peril. In War With Russia?, Stephen F. Cohen—the widely acclaimed historian of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia—gives readers a very different, dissenting narrative of this more dangerous new Cold War from its origins in the 1990s, the actual role of Vladimir Putin, and the 2014 Ukrainian crisis to Donald Trump’s election and today’s unprecedented Russiagate allegations.
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg. (2017)
Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization—and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration—threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era. Framed as a memoir—a chronicle of madness in which Ellsberg acknowledges participating—this gripping exposé reads like a thriller and offers feasible steps we can take to dismantle the existing "doomsday machine" and avoid nuclear catastrophe, returning Ellsberg to his role as whistle-blower. The Doomsday Machine is thus a real-life Dr. Strangelove story and an ultimately hopeful—and powerfully important—book about not just our country, but the future of the world.
Overthrow by Stephen Kinzer (2006)
"Regime change" did not begin with the administration of George W. Bush, but has been an integral part of U.S. foreign policy for more than one hundred years. Starting with the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 and continuing through the Spanish-American War and the Cold War and into our own time, the United States has not hesitated to overthrow governments that stood in the way of its political and economic goals. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 is the latest, though perhaps not the last, example of the dangers inherent in these operations. In Overthrow, Stephen Kinzer tells the stories of the audacious politicians, spies, military commanders, and business executives who took it upon themselves to depose monarchs, presidents, and prime ministers. He also shows that the U.S. government has often pursued these operations without understanding the countries involved; as a result, many of them have had disastrous long-term consequences. In a compelling and provocative history that takes readers to fourteen countries, including Cuba, Iran, South Vietnam, Chile, and Iraq, Kinzer surveys modern American history from a new and often surprising perspective.
War is a Lie, by David Swanson (2010)
War Is A Lie is a thorough refutation of every major argument used to justify wars, drawing on evidence from numerous past wars, with a focus on those that have been most widely defended as just and good. This is a handbook of sorts, an engaging, always informative manual that can be used to debunk future lies before the wars they’re deployed to justify have any chance to begin. Veteran antiwar activist Daniel Ellsberg calls War Is A Lie "a terrific tool for recognizing and resisting war lies before it's too late." This updated and expanded edition outlines lessons from America’s most recent wars, what can be done to end warmaking, and an epilogue that analyzes new trends in war lying and in resistance to it. No one to whom you give this book can claim they haven't been warned!
Charles Douglas Lummis commented 2023-03-21 22:52:51 -0400Any chance you could include my War is Hell: Studies in the Right of Legitimate Violence (Rowman and Littlefield, 2023) on this list? C. Douglas Lummis
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