Thursday, April 25, 2024

Book Roundup

I've been doing these book roundups almost as long as I've been blogging. I've long held to the idea that the state of human knowledge is realized in books -- newspapers and magazines, and the less literary forms that proliferate on the internet may be ok for "first drafts," but to be taken seriously, one needs to put it into a more permanent format, secured both by and for time. So my idea here is to spend a few days looking around to see what's new or recent (or in some cases just new to me), then write up some notes, usually from reading blurbs and customer comments, often by looking at samples, and in very rare cases by actually reading the book.

This process often results in me buying and reading more books, but in most cases I figure the research itself is sufficient. There is an element of consumer guidance here, as I hope these lists will help you decide what to read (and what to skip), to the extent our interests intersect. Nearly everything below comes from history, philosophy, and/or social science (including economics), but especially where politics are involved. Those have been my dominant interests going back to the mid-1960s, and almost exclusively since 2000, when I lost my job as a software engineer and found myself with a lot of free time (mostly thanks to a hard-working and politically astute wife). Occasionally some other interest will sneak in -- I write a lot about music but don't read much, at least in book form; before 2000, I read a lot of popular science (making up ground for my lack of formal education) and business management (I kept on top of what my bosses were thinking), but even then I rarely read fiction, and see no way I can survey it now.

The format of late has been to do short blurbs for a batch of forty books each post, followed by a list of other things I felt like noting but not saying much about. I often wound up tacking "related" lists onto the top-forty, so that section started to sprawl. Last time (Sept. 23, 2023) I decided to contain the sprawl, and hopefully expedite the schedule, by cutting the top section down to 30, promising to drop down to 20 next time -- the hope there was to get posts out in a more timely fashion. But since I didn't, I figured I'd shoot for 30 this time, then upped it to 40, then added in a few more I figured were done enough to move out of the drafts file (where a couple hundred more rough drafts and briefly noted remain).

Pictures are books listed below that made it to my Recent Reading list (also including books I've ordered but haven't gotten into yet):

  • Ned Blackhawk: The Rediscovery of America
  • Linda Dittmar: Tracing Homelands
  • Leah Hunt-Hendrix/Astra Taylor: Solidarity
  • John B Judis/Ruy Teixeira: Where Have All the Democrats Gone?
  • Steven Kahn: Illiberal America
  • Shaul Magid: The Necessity of Exile
  • Tricia Romano: The Freaks Came Out to Write
  • Timothy Shenk: Realigners
  • Richard Slotkin: A Great Disorder

Here are 40+ more/less recent books of interest in politics, the social sciences, and history, with occasional side trips, and supplementary lists to group related titles:

Daron Acemoglu/Simon Johnson: Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity (2023, PublicAffairs): Acemoglu is an economist who does big picture studies of "the historical origins of prosperity, poverty, and the effects of new technologies on economic growth, employment, and inequality," often emphasizing the role of institutions (or their absence or shortcomings), as in two previous books with James Robinson: Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (2012), and The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty (2019). Johnson is also an economist, formerly chief at the IMF, who with James Kwak wrote a bestseller, 13 Bankers (2010), about the 2008 financial meltdown. I tend to be skeptical of writers trying to work at this level, but the authors do seem to understand not just that technology is a powerful driving force, but that exactly where it takes us is subject to political choice -- if, that is, we have any choice in the matter. They open with a quote from Norbert Wiener (1949): "If we combine our machine-potentials of a factory with the valuation of human beings on which our present factory system is based, we are in for an industrial revolution of unmitigated cruelty. We must be willing to deal in facts rather than in fashionable ideologies if we wish to get through this period unharmed." I would suggest working on that second sentence a bit more, as facts are rarely recognized except through a haze of ideology, and what's fashionable often diverges from what one really needs.

Elliot Ackerman: The Fifth Act: America's End in Afghanistan (2022, Penguin): Former Marine, five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, worked for CIA, has written several well-regarded novels, returned for the end and didn't like what he saw. This is much touted as a powerful work that is critical of all US administrations -- bear in mind that's not exactly the same thing as critical of the war they created -- but it strikes me as impossible for someone so deeply embedded to be able to see much beyond the battle lines.

  • Adam Wunische: Unwinnable Wars: Afghanistan and the Future of American Armed Statebuilding (paperback, 2024, Polity). Author has a long history as a military and CIA analyst, but also did some research at Quincy Institute, and admits that "armed statebuilding is overdetermined for failure."
  • Séamus Ó Fianghusa (Fennessy): The Pullout Sellout: The Betrayal of Afghanistan and America's 9/11 Legacy (paperback, 2021, Im Úr Blasta).

Tim Alberta: The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelism in an Age of Extremism (2023, Harper): Shows how American evangelicals have embraced right-wing politics under the guise of Christian Nationalism, seeing Donald Trump as their savior and redeemer, through which God might bring the nation back to its intended state of grace. It's a very heady mix, ominous to anyone who just wants to get along in an increasingly complex and diverse society. Some related books (including some pushback):

  • Anthea Butler: White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America (2021, The University of North Carolina Press).
  • Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons: Just Faith: Reclaiming Progressive Christianity (2020, Broadleaf Books).
  • Jack Jenkins: American Prophets: The Religious Roots of Progressive Politics and the Ongoing Fight for the Soul of the Country (2020; paperback, 2021, Harper One).
  • Kristin Kobes Du Mez: Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation (2020; paperback, 2021, Liveright).
  • Robert P Jones: The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy and the Path to a Shared American Future (2023, Simon & Schuster).
  • Sarah McCammon: The Exvangelicals: Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church (2024, St Martin's Press).
  • Elizabeth Neumann: Kingdom of Rage: The Rise of Christian Extremism and the Path Back to Peace (2024, Worthy Books).
  • Bradley Onishi: Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism -- and What Comes Next (2023, Broadleaf Books).
  • Jim Wallis: The False White Gospel: Rejecting Christian Nationalism, Reclaiming True Faith, and Refounding Democracy (2024, St Martin's Essentials).
  • NT Wright/Michael F Bird: Jesus and the Powers: Christian Political Witness in an Age of Totalitarian Terror and Dysfunctional Democracies (paperback, 2024, Zondervan).

Eric Alterman: We Are Not One: A History of America's Fight Over Israel (2022, Basic Books): "This book is a history of the debate over Israel in the United States." But has there really been a debate? I suspect that much in this book will come as news even to the American Jews and Evangelicals (presumably the subject of the chapter "Alliance for Armageddon") who most reflexively and vehemently cheer Israel. The "special relationship" of America for Israel -- an affection that is welcomed by Israelis but clearly not reciprocated -- desperately needs to be reexamined in light of the instant and unblinking rallying of virtually the entire American political class when Israel set on its course of genocide against Gaza.

Isaac Arnsdorf: Finish What We Started: The MAGA Movement's Ground War to End Democracy (2024, Little Brown): There is a large and growing shelf of books lamenting various threats to democracy (some of which I'll tack on here), but few get specific to the threat, even though their greatest fears are clearly articulated at every Trump rally. The problem is not some abstract threat to the cherished concept of democracy, but a specific political movement which seeks to seize power, by any means at its disposal, and to use that power to punish its enemies and to perpetuate itself. More books on various aspects of this:

  • Ari Berman: Minority Rule: The Right-Wing Attack on the Will of the People -- and the Fight to Resist It (2024, Farrar Straus and Giroux).
  • Joan Donovan/Emily Dreyfuss/Brian Friedberg: Meme Wars: The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America (2022, Bloomsbury): Investigates how the right wing has weaponized social media, especially in their reduction of political argument to memes, where meaning is often reduced to tribal identity.
  • James Davison Hunter: Democracy and Solidarity: On the Cultural Roots of America's Political Crisis (2024, Yale University Press): Keywords fit here and/or under solidarity, but aims at deeper study of social mechanics rather than some activist agenda.
  • Robert Kagan: Rebellion: How Antiliberalism Is Tearing America Apart -- Again (2024, Knopf).
  • Steve Levitsky/Daniel Ziblatt: Tyranny of the Minority: Why American Democracy Reached the Breaking Point (2023, Crown). Authors of How Democracies Die (2018).
  • Barbara McQuade: Attack From Within: How Disinformation Is Sabotaging America (2024, Seven Stories Press).
  • David Neiwert: Red Pill, Blue Pill: How to Counteract the Conspiracy Theories That Are Killing Us (2020, Prometheus).
  • David Neiwert: The Age of Insurrection: The Radical Right's Assault on American Democracy (2023, Melville House).
  • Tom Nichols: Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy (2021, Oxford University Press): Professor at US Naval War College.
  • David Pepper: Saving Democracy: A User's Manual for Every American (2023, St Helena Press).
  • Brynn Tannehill: American Fascism: How the GOP is Subverting Democracy (2021, Transgress Press).
  • Miles Taylor: Blowback: A Warning to Save Democracy From the Next Trump (2023, Atria Books): The "senior Trump administration official" who published A Warning in 2019. Most of us worry more about This Trump.

Walter Benjamin: Radio Benjamin (paperback, 2021, Verso): Famous German literary critic (1892-1940), wrote and presented radio programs from 1927-33, bringing his insights and curiosity to the new medium. This gathers the surviving transcripts from his programs (424 pp).

Lauren Benton: They Called It Peace: Worlds of Imperial Violence (2024, Princeton University Press): Blurb suggests an alternate sub: "A sweeping account of how small wars shaped global order in the age of empires." "Small wars" is a term Max Boot popularized to describe conflicts where the US -- and Europe has many more examples -- attacked some relatively defenseless enclave, for plunder or punishment or sometimes it would seem simply for sport (as they sometimes put it: "butcher and bolt"). This offers a brief (304 pp) history of the violence committed in the name of empire: Chapter 1 is "From Small Wars to Atrocity in Empires." "Peace" is rarely more than post-facto rationalization, and more often than not dissolves into resistance and revolt, which has its own "small war" etymology ("guerilla warfare"). Benton has written a fair amount about empire:

  • Lauren A Benton: Invisible Factories: The Informal Economy and Industrial Development in Spain (1990, SUNY Press).
  • Lauren Benton: Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900 (2002; paperback, 2009, Cambridge University Press).
  • Lauren Benton: A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400-1900 (paperback, 2009, Cambridge University Press).
  • Lauren Benton/Richard J Ross, eds: Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850 (paperback, 2013, NYU Press).
  • Lauren Benton/Lisa Ford: Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850 (2016; paperback, 2018, Harvard University Press).
  • Lauren Benton/Bain Atwood/Adam Clulow, eds: Protection and Empire: A Global History (2017; paperback, 2018, Cambridge University Press).
  • Lauren Benton/Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, eds: A World at Sea: Maritime Practices and Global History (2020, University of Pennsylvania Press).

Vincent Bevins: If We Burn: The Mass Protest Decade and the Missing Revolution (2023, PublicAffairs): Journalist, has written for Washington Post and Financial Times [London], covering South America and Southeast Asia, has a previous book on the mass murder of leftists in Indonesia (The Jakarrta Method: Washington's Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World). Major insight here is that the 2010s were a decade with massive protests all around the world -- Arab Spring, Turkey, Ukraine, Chile, Hong Kong are among the more famous -- that resulted in very little real change. The reasonable conclusion would be that the underlying problems are still festering, temporarily held in check by repressive measures that are likely to fail. Related:

  • Mark Engler/Paul Engler: This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century (2016; paperback, 2017, Bold Type).
  • Nadav Eyal: Revolt: The Worldwide Uprising Against Globalization (2021, Ecco; paperback, 2022, Picador).
  • Jade Saab: A Region in Revolt: Mapping the Recent Uprisings in North Africa and West Asia (paperback, 2020, Daraja Press).

Rachael Bitecofer: Hit 'Em Where It Hurts: How to Save Democracy by Beating Republicans at Their Own Game (2024, Crown). Democrats sorely need a hard-hitting political strategy book, which is what this one promises. Still, the two political parties are in many respects asymmetrical, and as such require different positions and therefore tactics. Democrats need to be able to solve problems and offer tangible returns to voters, where Republicans seem to be able to thrive on emotional appeals that only lead to counterproductive policies. Democrats need to be able to raise money, but cannot afford to be seen as corrupt, and need to garner massive support from voters who have little or no money to give. Still, Democrats need to be able to deliver at least some of the emotional satisfaction people seem to get from Republicans. One way to do that is to get nastier: to show that Republicans are crooked and deceitful and generally full of shit. Which really shouldn't be that hard for the party that believes in science, in reason, in truth, and in honest public service. More on the state of the Democrats:

  • Joshua Green: The Rebels: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the Struggle for a New American Politics (2024, Penguin Press). Green previously reported on the Republicans in Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency (2017).
  • Ryan Grim: The Squad: AOC and the Hope of a Political Revolution (2023, Henry Holt).
  • John B Judis/Ruy Teixeira: Where Have All the Democrats Gone? The Soul of the Party in the Age of Extremes (2023, Henry Holt): The guys who promised you an "emerging Democratic majority" now promise you . . . more heartbreak.
  • Lainey Newman/Theda Skocpol: Rust Belt Union Blues: Why Working-Class Voters Are Turning Away From the Democratic Party (2023, Columbia University Press).
  • Hunter Walker/Luppe B Juppen: The Truce: Progressives, Centrists, and the Future of the Democratic Party (2024, WW Norton).

Ned Blackhawk: The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of US History (2023, Yale University Press): A prize-winning revision of American history turning on relations with the continent's native population, from the first Spanish encounters to the "Cold War Era." This story has most often been brushed aside in large-scale historical studies, but has a lot to say about what kind of people we were, and what kind we have become. Also:

  • Kathleen DuVal: Native Nations: A Millennium in North America (2024, Random House): Big book (752 pp), vast scope.

Andy Borowitz: Profiles in Ignorance: How America's Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber (2022, Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster): Satirist, for years now has paddled desperately trying to stay ahead of reality, but succumbs here, writing about "The Three Stages of Ignorance." Or, as he explains: "Over the past fifty years, what some of our most prominent politicians didn't know could fill a book. This is that book."

Daniel Boyarin: The No-State Solution: A Jewish Manifesto (2023, Yale University Press): A professor of Talmudic Studies, the author tries to reconcile the justice sought by his religion with the power sought by the Israeli state, and cannot, leading him to reject the state, and to reexamine the "Jewish question" that some of his co-religionists tried to solve with Zionism. Also on Zionism and its discontents:

  • Noah Feldman: To Be a Jew Today: A New Guide to God, Israel, and the Jewish People (2024, Farrar Straus and Giroux).
  • Geoffrey Levin: Our Palestine Question: Israel and American Jewish Dissent, 1948-1978 (2023, Yale University Press).
  • Shaul Magid: The Necessity of Exile: Essays From a Distance (paperback, 2023, Ayin Press).
  • Atalia Omer: Days of Awe: Reimagining Jewishness in Solidarity With Palestinians (paperback, 2019, University of Chicago Press).
  • Derek J Penslar: Zionism: An Emotional State (paperback, 2023, Rutgers University Press).
  • Rebecca Vilkomerson/Alissa Wise: Solidarity Is the Political Version of Love: Lessons From Jewish Anti-Zionist Organizing (paperback, 2024, Haymarket Books). [09-03]

Steve Coll: The Achilles Trap: Saddam Hussein, the C.I.A., and the Origins of America's Invasion of Iraq (2024, Penguin Press): He wrote the primary book on America in Afghanistan -- Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden: From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2004), which was eventually given a sequel in Directorate 6: The CIA and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan (2018) -- as well as major side projects on the Bin Ladens and Exxon-Mobil. This, like Ghost Wars, starts in 1979, and ends in 2003 -- as the Bush invasion of Iraq was as definitive a break as the 9/11 pivot from clandestine mischief to assertion of global power, and every bit as misguided.

Matthew Desmond: Poverty, by America (2023, Crown): Asks why, and concludes that people in power like it this way. It's not an obvious choice, but in a political system where power is largely determined by money, it shouldn't be surprising to find that money is largely determined by power. As Desmond notes, "poverty isn't simply the condition of not having enough money. It's the condition of not having enough choice." Author previously wrote Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016), specifically about Milwaukee. A few more books relating to poverty:

  • Kevin F Adler/Donald W Burnes: When We Walk By: Forgotten Humanity, Broken Systems, and the Role We Can Each Play in Ending Homelessness in America (paperback, 2023, North Atlantic Books).
  • Kathryn J Edin/H Luke Schaefer/Timothy J Nelson: The Injustice of Place: Uncovering the Legacy of Poverty in America (2023, Mariner Books).
  • Joanne Samuel Goldblum/Colleen Shaddox: Broke in America: Seeing, Understanding, and Ending US Poverty (2021, BenBella Books).
  • Tracie McMillan: The White Bonus: Five Families and the Cash Value of Racism in America (2024, Henry Holt).
  • Mark Robert Rank/Lawrence M Eppard/Heather E Bullock: Poorly Understood: What America Gets Wrong About Poverty (2021, Oxford University Press).

Bruce Gilley: In Defense of German Colonialism: And How Its Critics Empower Nazis, Communists, and the Enemies of the West (2022, Regnery): It's rather shocking that anyone could come up with a whole book of rationalizations for Germany's pre-WWI colonial empire, which is mostly remembered for its genocide of the Herero in what's now called Namibia. (But I suppose the publisher tells you what you need to know about the author.) Also in this vein:

  • Bruce Gilley: The Last Imperialist: Sir Alan Burns's Epic Defense of the British Empire (2021, Regnery).
  • Jeff Flynn-Paul: Not Stolen: The Truth About European Colonialism in the New World (paperback, 2023, Bombardier Books): Argues that colonialism was a blessing, that all of the "shameful sins and crimes against humanity" you've read about never happened, and the true story "is more inspiring than you ever dared to imagine."

Steven Hahn: Illiberal America: A History (2024, WW Norton): A thematic review of all of American history, the theme being the impulses and forces that have always risen to threaten and often to thwart the liberal ideals Americans have celebrated, but rarely lived up to. Little distinguishes illiberalism from the more often self-proclaimed conservatism, except that it expresses not just a fondness for order but the willingness to enforce it through violence. As thematic history, I suspect this winds up fairly closely tracking Richard Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style in American Politics -- illiberalism by yet another name. Other books by Hahn:

  • Steven Hahn: The Roots of Southern Populism: Yeoman Farmers and the Transformation of the Georgia Upcountry (1983; updated paperback, 2006, Oxford University Press).
  • Steven Hahn: A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South From Slavery to the Great Migration (2003; paperback, 2005, Belknap Press).
  • Steven Hahn: The Political Worlds of Slavery and Freedom (2009, Harvard University Press).
  • Steven Hahn: A Nation Without Borders: The United States and Its World in an Age of Civil Wars, 1830-1910 (2016, Viking; paperback, 2017, Penguin Books).

Jonathan Haidt: The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness (2024, Penguin Press): Degree in social psychology, teaches "ethical leadership" in NYU's Stern School of Business, a conservative intellectual who can't quite be dismissed out of hand, although I find it pretty likely that much of what looks like "mental illness" to conservatives is simply stuff they don't understand. This pairs with:

  • Greg Lukianoff/Rikki Schlott: The Canceling of the American Mind: Cancel Culture Undermines Trust and Threatens Us All -- but There is a Solution (2023, Simon & Schuster): Foreword by Jonathan Haidt, who co-wrote The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. No doubt this ignores the basic paradox, which is that while conservatives do the most complaining about "cancel culture," they're also the ones doing most of the cancelling.

Jacob Heilbrunn: America Last: The Right's Century-Long Romance With Foreign Dictators (2024, Liveright): Journalist, has a previous book, They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons (2008), actually goes back a bit farther than the rise of Mussollini (third chapter; first is "Courting Kauiser Wilhelm"), winds up with Trump (of course), but in a short book he probably glosses over a lot of obvious subjects (e.g., whole books have been written about Pinochet and Friedman).

Dara Horn: People Love Dead Jews: Reports From a Haunted Present (2021; paperback, 2022, WW Norton): A novelist of some note, writes about the state and legacy of antisemitism in America (and elsewhere?), recalling Shakespeare's Shylock and Anne Frank and "the Jewish history of Harbin, China" and, no doubt, much more. Which is bound to be disturbing on some level, but exactly how cannot be known except to looking deeper into the details and nuances. That could be interesting, but hardly seems important compared to the ongoing genocide in Gaza, on top of the broader and deeper discrimination against non-Jews in Israel, which is not only fueled by the same kinds of prejudices that have been used against Jews for ages, but is also fortified by internalizing the sort of tales of victimhood Horn engages in. Also on antisemitism (and Holocaust remembrance, the trump card in the eternal victimization story):

  • David Baddiel: Jews Don't Count (2021, TLS Books): Short (144 pp), argues antisemitism is overlooked or underappreciated.
  • Omer Bartov: Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz (2018; paperback, 2019, Simon & Schuster): In Nazi-occupied Ukraine.
  • Omer Bartov: Genocide, the Holocaust and Israel-Palestine: First-Person History in Times of Crisis (paperback, 2023, Bloomsbury).
  • Jószef Debreczeni: Cold Crematorium: Reporting From the Land of Auschwitz (2024, St Martin's Press).
  • Susan J Eischeid: Mistress of Life and Death: The Dark Journey of Maria Mandl, Head Overseer of the Women's Camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau (2023, Citadel).
  • Cary Nelson: Israel Denial: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, & the Faculty Campaign Against the Jewish State (paperback, 2019, Indiana University Press).
  • Dan Stone: The Holocaust: An Unfinished History (2024, Mariner Books).
  • Bari Weiss: How to Fight Anti-Semitism (2019; paperback, 2021, Crown).

Leah Hunt-Hendrix/Astra Taylor: Solidarity: The Past, Present, and Future of a World-Changing Idea (2024, Pantheon): Liberals and leftists may share common beliefs in principles and rights, but there is an essential difference: liberals celebrate individuals, while the left sees groups, acting together, bound by solidarity, a sense not just that interests are shared but that only collective action can secure them. Not long ago, Thomas Geoghegan made a big point on how solidarity was what distinguishes the labor movement from liberalism in America, and how alien the former seems to the latter. But when I look around today, I see a lot of emphasis on solidarity. More recent books on left activism:

  • Chris Benner/Manuel Pastor: Solidarity Economics: Why Mutuality and Movements Matter (paperback, 2021, Polity).
  • Deepak Bhargava/Stephanie Luce: Practical Radicals: Seven Strategies to Change the World (2023, New Press).
  • David Fenton: The Activist's Media Handbook: Lessons From Fifty Years as a Progressive Agitator (2022, Earth Aware Editions).
  • Kelly Hayes/Mariame Kaba: Let This Radicalize You: Organizing and the Revolution of Reciprocal Care (paperback, 2023, Haymarket Books).
  • Tricia Hersey: Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto (2022, Little Brown Spark).
  • Mie Inouye: On Solidarity (paperback, 2023, Boston Review): Leads a forum, with William J Barber II, Charisse Burden-Stelly, Jodi Dean, Nathan R DuFord, Alex Gourevitch, Juliet Hooker, Daniel Martinez HoSang, David Roediger, Sarah Schulman, Astra Taylor, Leah Hunt-Hendrix, Liz Theoharis, plus articles by others.
  • Raina Lipsitz: The Rise of a New Left: How Young Radicals Are Shaping the Future of American Politics (2022, Verso).
  • Staughton Lynd/Mike Konopacki: Solidary Unionism: Rebuilding the Labor Movement From Below (paperback, 2015, PM Press).
  • Daisy Pitkin: On the Line: Two Women's Epic Fight to Build a Union (2022; paperback, 2023, Algonquin Books).
  • Andrea J Ritchie: Practicing New Worlds: Abolition and Emergent Strategies (paperback, 2023, AK Press).
  • Erica Smiley/Sarita Gupta: The Future We Need: Organizing for a Better Democracy in the Twenty-First Century (paperback, 2022, ILR Press).
  • Cenk Uygur: Justice Is Coming: How Progressives Are Going to Take Over the Country and America Is Going to Love It (2023, St Martin's Press).

Of course, solidarity is a theme that extends beyond the US, as many recent books attest:

  • Jennifer Lynn Kelly: Invited to Witness: Solidarity Tourism Across Occupied Palestine (paperback, 2023, Duke University Press).
  • Margaret M Power: Solidarity Across the Americas: The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and Anti-Imperialism (paperback, 2023, University of North Carolina Press).
  • Rob Skinner: Peace, Decolonization and the Practice of Solidarity (2023, Bloomsbury Academic).
  • Firuzeh Shokooh Valle: In Defense of Solidarity and Pleasure: Feminist Technopolitics From the Global South (2023, Stanford University Press).
  • Daniel Widener: Third Worlds Within: Multiethnic Movements and Transnational Solidarity (paperback, 2024, Duke University Press). Foreword by Vijay Prashad.

Book series: Abolitionist Papers:

  • Mariame Kaba: We Do This 'Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice [Abolitionist Papers, 1] (paperback, 2021, Haymarket Books).
  • Angela Y Davis/Gina Dent/Erica R Meiners/Beth E Richie: Abolitionism. Feminism. Now. [Abolitionist Papers, 2] (paperback, 2022, Haymarket Books).
  • Robyn Maynard/Leanne Betasamosake Simpson: Rehearsals for Living [Abolitionist Papers, 3] (paperback, 2022, Haymarket Books).
  • Mizue Aizeki/Matt Mahmoudi/Coline Schupfer, eds: Resisting Borders and Technologies of Violence [Abolitionist Papers] (paperback, 2024, Haymarket Books).

Book series: Emergent Strategy (a series of 12 books):

  • Adrienne Maree Brown: Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds [Emergent Strategy, 0] (paperback, 2017, AK Press).
  • Adrienne Maree Brown, ed: Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good [Emergent Strategy, 1] (paperback, 2019, AK Press).
  • Adrienne Maree Brown: Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation [Emergent Strategy, 4] (paperback, 2021, AK Press).

Jonathan Karl: Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party (2023, Dutton): Every one of these posts offers a new crop of Trump books, so the only question is which one to lead with. Lots of legal baggage down list, with his trials and tribulations likely to crowd out his more fundamental obnoxiousness and more pathetic malapropisms. But no other politician has remotely come close to the amount of press he's garnered, and that's unlikely to change any time soon. Although I'm inclined to add that this segment's collection of new Trump books is among the most boring ever:

  • Martin Baron: Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and the Washington Post (2023, Flatiron Books).
  • Ken Block: Disproven: My Unbiased Search for Vote Fraud for the Trump Campaign, the Data That Shows Why He Lost, and How We Can Improve Our Elections (2024, Forefront Books).
  • Clay Cane: The Grift: The Downward Spiral of Black Republicans From the Party of Lincoln to the Cult of Trump (2024, Sourcebooks).
  • Alan Dershowitz: Get Trump: The Threat to Civil Liberties, Due Process, and Our Constitutional Rule of Law (2023, Hot Books): Fourth (or sixth?) book the world's most opportunistically liberal lawyer has written defending Trump.
  • Elie Honig: Untouchable: How Powerful People Get Away With It (2023, Harper): Former prosecutor, now CNN Legal Analyst, tells us something we already suspected, which is that the rich and famous enjoy huge advantages in America's so-called justice system. Granted, some of his famous examples (Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby) did wind up in jail, but only after extraordinary efforts. But his main example, Donald Trump, is still at large.
  • Cassidy Hutchinson: Enough (2023, Simon & Schuster): Trump White House aide, testified memorably to the Jan. 6 Select Committee (e.g., about Trump throwing food).
  • Michael Isikoff/Daniel Klaidman: Find Me the Votes: A Hard-Charging Georgia Prosecutor, a Rogue President, and the Plot to Steal an American Election (2024, Twelve).
  • Melissa Murray/Andrew Weissmann: The Trump Indictments: The Historic Charging Documents With Commentary (paperback, 2024, WW Norton).
  • Tim Murtaugh: Swing Hard in Case You Hit It: My Escape From Addiction and Shot at Redemption on the Trump Campaign (2024, Bombardier Books).
  • Mark Pomerantz: People vs. Donald Trump: An Inside Account (2023, Simon & Schuster): New York prosecutor, resigned when he thought Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg was too slow in prosecuting Trump.
  • Ethan Porter/Thomas J Wood: False Alarm: The Truth About Political Mistruths in the Trump Era (paperback, 2019, Cambridge University Press): 80 pp.
  • Charles Renwick: All the Presidents' Taxes: What We Can Learn (and Borrow) from the High-Stakes World of Presidential Tax-Paying (2023, Lioncrest): Short (180 pp), some but not all on Trump.
  • Ramin Setoodeh: Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass (2024, Harper). TV writer. Previously wrote: Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Story of "The View" (2019). [06-18]
  • Tristan Snell: Taking Down Trump: 12 Rules for Prosecuting Donald Trump by Someone Who Did It Successfully (2024, Melville House): Snell was the New York prosecutor on the Trump University fraud case, which was ultimately settled for $25 million, before Trump became president, so he didn't take him down very far.
  • Ali Velshi: The Trump Indictments: The 91 Criminal Counts Against the Former President of the United States (paperback, 2023, Mariner Books): Introduction plus documents.
  • Bob Woodward: The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward's Twenty Interviews With President Donald Trump (paperback, 2023, Simon & Schuster): Documentation for his books Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

Nelson Lichtenstein/Judith Stein: A Fabulous Failure: The Clinton Presidency and the Transformation of American Capitalism (2023, Princeton University Press): "How the Clinton administration betrayed its progressive principles and capitulated to the right." I'm less inclined to grant him any "progressive principles." I think his plan all along was to show wealthy donors that backing Democrats would make them more money than the Reagan cronies ever would, and he delivered a pretty good case for that. But the other part of his pitch didn't fare so well: he claimed that "reinventing government" to make it more business-friendly would "trickle down" to lift up workers and alleviate poverty, so everyone would win (especially himself). To some extent, he succeeded there too, but it didn't feel like much of a win -- especially to the workers who got cut off from union jobs, to the regions that got stripped of their factories and livelihoods, and to the millions of Americans who saw the federal safety net shredded by austerity, and who fell ever deeper in debt, as a new class of "symbolic analysts" were touted as future elites. Also by the authors:

  • Nelson Lichtenstein: Labor's War at Home: The CIO in World War II (1983; paperback, 2008, Temple University Press).
  • Nelson Lichtenstein/Howell John Harris, eds: Industrial Democracy in America: The Ambiguous Promise (1993; revised, paperback, 1996, Cambridge University Press).
  • Nelson Lichtenstein: The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther and the Fate of American Labor (1995, Basic Books).
  • Nelson Lichtenstein, ed: American Capitalism: Social Thought and Political Economy in the Twentieth Century (2006, University of Pennsylvania Press).
  • Nelson Lichtenstein: State of the Union: A Century of American Labor (2002; revised, paperback, 2013, Princeton University Press).
  • Nelson Lichtenstein, ed: Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First Century Capitalism (2006, paperback, New Press).
  • Nelson Lichtenstein: The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business (2009, Metropolitan Books; paperback, 2010, Picador).
  • Nelson Lichtenstein/Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, eds: The Right and Labor in America: Politics, Ideology, and Imagination (2012; paperback, 2016, University of Pennsylvania Press).
  • Nelson Lichtenstein: A Contest of Ideas: Capital, Politics and Labor (paperback, 2013, University of Illinois Press).
  • Romain Huret/Nelson Lichtenstein/Jean-Christian Vinel, eds: Capitalism Contested: The New Deal and Its Legacies (2020, University of Pennsylvania Press).
  • Roy Rosenzweig/Nelson Lichtenstein/Joshua Brown/David Jaffee [American Social History Project]: Who Built America? Working People and the Nation's History: Volume Two: 1877 to the Present (third edition, paperback, 2007, Bedford/St Martin's).
  • Judith Stein: The World of Marcus Garvey: Race and Class in Modern Society (1985; paperback, 1991, Louisiana State University Press).
  • Judith Stein: Running Steel, Running America: Race, Economic Policy, and the Decline of Liberalism (paperback, 1998, University of North Carolina Press).
  • Judith Stein: Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies (2010; paperback, 2011, Yale University Press).

Antony Loewenstein: The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation Around the World (paperback, 2023, Verso). Israel isn't just one of the world's most authoritarian societies, they've pioneered advanced technology to surveil and repress the people they don't like, and they've tested it extensively, so they know what works, and fix what still needs work. But they're not selfish. They got that entrepreneurial spirit, so would-be fascists anywhere in the world, whether running a country or just a local police department, can get in on the act and buy proven technology to oppress their own people. As Noam Chomsky explains: "A sad and sordid record of how 'the light unto the nations' became the purveyor of the means of violence and brutal repression from Guatemala to Myanmar and wherever else the opportunity arose." Related books:

  • Alon Arvath: The Battle for Your Computer: Israel and the Growth of the Global Cyber-Security Industry (2023, Wiley).
  • Antony Loewenstein: The Blogging Revolution: How the Newest Media Revolution Is Changing Politics, Business and Culture in India, China, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Cuba and Saudi Arabia (2008; paperback, 2015, Jaico Publishing House).
  • Antony Loewenstein: My Israel Question (3rd ed, paperback, 2009, Melbourne University Press).
  • Antony Loewenstein/Ahmed Moor, eds: After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine (2012; paperback, 2024, Saqi Books).
  • Antony Loewenstein: Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe (paperback, 2017, Verso).
  • Antony Loewenstein: Pills, Powder, and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs (paperback, 2019, Scribe).

Rachel Maddow: Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism (2023, Crown): Popular left-of-center newscaster, but she's been super annoying ever since she got Putin stuck in her craw during the 2016 election and never managed to either swallow or spit it out. But I have to wonder: who actually writes her books? And why does she put her name on the cover? I mean, I can sort of imagine her writing Drift in 2012 to show she's really a warmonger at heart, and then Blowout -- well, she totally cornered the "blame Russia" niche for three years up to 2019 -- but why write a book about Spiro Agnew during the 2020 election season? And now this, about how Nazi sympathizers in 1941 got rejected and some kind of comeuppance? Title suggests that we can also stand up to fascists today, but it's not that simple, because we're not the same us, and they're not the same them. Blurring those distinctions may sell whatever, and that's clearly the level she wants to work at, but it hardly solves anything. Nazis are a perennial theme, so here are more recent books:

  • Michael Benson: Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in WW2 Era America (2022, Citadel).
  • David De Jong: Nazi Billionaires: The Dark History of Germany's Wealthiest Dynasties (2022, Mariner Books).
  • Kathryn S Olmsted: The Newspaper Axis: Six Press Barons Who Enabled Hitler (2022, Yale University Press): As WWII approached, these six American and British moguls praised Hitler and sought to keep their countries neutral and friendly towards Nazi Germany.
  • Susan Ronald: Hitler's Aristocrats: The Secret Power Players in Britain and America Who Supported the Nazis, 1923-1941 (2023, St Martin's Press).

Branko Milanovic: Visions of Inequality: From the French Revolution to the End of the Cold War (2023, Belknap Press): Economist, has written several books on capitalism and inequality, moves here from the evidence of such to the realm of philosophy, focusing on what six important economists said about inequality: François Quesnay, Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, Vilfredo Pareto, and Simon Kuznets. Also on inequality:

  • Ann Case/Angus Deaton: Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism (2020; paperback, 2021, Princeton University Press).
  • Chuck Collins: Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good (paperback, 2016, Chelsea Green).
  • Chuck Collins: Is Inequality in America Irreversible? (paperback, 2018, Polity).
  • Chuck Collins: The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions (paperback, 2021, Polity).
  • Angus Deaton: Economics in America: An Immigrant Economist Explores the Land of Inequality (2023, Princeton University Press).
  • Oded Galor: The Journey of Humanity: The Origins of Wealth and Inequality (2022, Dutton): Big picture synthesis of all of human history plus what we know about pre-history, particularly interested in the growth of wealth and inequality.
  • Michelle Jackson: Manifesto for a Dream: Inequality, Constraint, and Radical Reform (paperback, 2020, Stanford University Press).
  • Destin Jenkins: The Bonds of Inequality: Debt and the Making of the American City (2021, University of Chicago Press).
  • Eyal Press: Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America (2021, Farrar Straux and Giroux; paperback, 2022, Picador Press).

Luke Mogelson: The Storm Is Here: An American Crucible (2022, Penguin): Reporter used to covering the War on Terror decided the real action was back in the USA in 2020, reporting on the Michigan militias and their anti-lockdown protests/crimes, police violence both before and after the George Floyd killing, and so forth up through January 6.

William L Patterson: We Charge Genocide: The Crime of Government Against the Negro People (1951; paperback, 2017, International Publishers): I saw this among the recommendations in a list of books about Israel, and figured anyone ahead of the curve deserved a mention. Turns out it's a much older book, a brief that the author (1891-1980, "a Marxist lawyer, author, and civil rights activist") presented before the UN in 1951. That's a stretch -- the American system was still more focused on exploiting labor, as an extension of slavery, than on killing people, not that they had much compunction about those they did kill -- but coming early after the world belatedly decided that genocide is a major crime, Patterson offered them a real and pressing case to think about.

Heather Cox Richardson: Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America (2023, Viking): Historian, has written several useful books on the Republican Party and Reconstruction. Recently, she's become a prolific blogger, attempting to understand contemporary events in the context of history, and often impressive as such. But her views are pretty conventionally liberal, and I've found her recent attempts to valorize Biden's foreign policy really lame even before they turned so spectacularly embarrassing. (But I can't say I've noted much by her on that of late.)

Tricia Romano: The Freaks Came Out to Write: The Definitive History of the Village Voice, the Radical Paper That Changed American Culture (2024, Public Affairs): Structured as an oral history, assembled quotes from interviews and other sources, this chronicles New York's (well, America's) biggest little underground newspaper from 1956 to its demise c. 2012, with skeletal coverage of the business and editorial masters, and a broad selection of the ever-revolting workers, who took every opportunity to transcend its economics. Much more could have been done on the latter. Just in music, there's nothing much on the brilliant jazz writing of Gary Giddins and Francis Davis (although Stanley Crouch throws enough punches to get noticed), nothing at all on the exceptional new music coverage of Tom Johnson and Kyle Gann, and not a single mention of yours truly (or dozens of others I can name who were more regular contributors). My own history goes back to subscribing when I was an 18-year-old dropout in Wichita, gathering seeds that later transformed my life, even with no clear desire let along plan to do so. All it took was an openness to say, hey, that might be interesting.

Nouriel Roubini: Megathreats: Ten Dangerous Trends That Imperil Our Future, and How to Survive Them (2022, Little Brown): Worth listing: The Mother of All Debt Crises; Private and Public Failures; The Demographic Time Bomb; The Easy Money Trap and the Boom-Bust Cycle; The Coming Great Stagflation; Currency Meltdowns and Financial Instability; The End of Globalization?; The AI Threat; The New Cold War; An Uninhabitable Planet? Ends with two versions of "Can This Disaster Be Averted?" Roubini got a lot of credit as one of the first economists to predict the crash of 2008. There's some real stuff here, but it also is some kind of hustle.

Timothy W Ryback: Takeover: Hitler's Final Rise to Power (2024, Knopf): Focuses on the few months lealding up to "January 30, 1933" (chapter 22 title here), when Germany's transferred effective power to Hitler, who then swiftly moved to seize everything else, fashion his peculiar version of MAGA ("The Third Reich," he called it), and drive Germany to war, extermination, and ruin. The broad outline is familiar by now, the nuances in the details over just how much of Hitler's program was anticipated and relished by his benefactors (almost everything, I dare say) and how many of them regretted their decision (very few, at least until the war turned against them).

David E Sanger: New Cold Wars: China's Rise, Russia's Invasion, and America's Struggle to Defend the West (2024, Crown): Journalist, covers national security for the New York Times, which evidently requires him to believe that conflicts with nuclear powers are necessary but also stable and benign, like they think the Cold War was. This was mostly nonsense, wrapped up in American myopia and arrogance, also ideological incoherence -- as Russia and China became more capitalist, the real distinction came down to them having their own arms markets, independent of the American cartel. Nothing boosts arms sales like the spectre of enemies, and falling back on decades of distrust, Russia and China were easy villains. That Russia took the bait in Ukraine should have alerted us to the risks of such thinking, but for now the arms industry is booming.

  • David E Sanger: The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age (2018; paperback, 2019, Crown).
  • Sanjaya Baru/Rahul Sharma: A New Cold War: Henry Kissinger and the Rise of China (2021, HarperCollins).
  • Michael Doyle: Cold Peace: Avoiding the New Cold War (2023; paperback, 2024, Liveright): One of the few books in this section not bought and paid for by the arms cartel. He previously wrote:
  • Michael Doyle: Ways of War and Peace: Realism, Liberalism, and Socialism (paperback, 1997, WW Norton).
  • John Bellamy Foster/John Ross/Deborah Veneziale: Washington's New Cold War: A Socialist Perspective (paperback, 2022, Monthly Review Press): Introduction by Vijay Prashad.
  • Gordon M Hahn: Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West and the "New Cold War" (paperback, 2018, McFarland).
  • Matthew Kroenig/Dan Negrea: We Win They Lose: Republican Foreign Policy & the New Cold War (2024, Republic Book Publishers): Foreword by Mike Pompeo. Declared the New Cold War has started, and China is the enemy. Kroenig is a long-time hawk, as you can see from:
  • Mark Kroenig: The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy: Why Strategic Superiority Matters (2018; paperback, 2020, Oxford University Press).
  • Matt Pottinger: The Boiling Moat: Urgent Steps to Defend Taiwan (paperback, 2024, Hoover Institution Press). [07-01]
  • Sten Rynning: NATO: From Cold War to Ukraine, a History of the World's Most Powerful Alliance (2024, Yale University Press): Rather puffy for what's basically a useless symbol -- except when it is used, it quickly turns into a liability.
  • Jim Sciutto: The Return of Great Powers: Russia, China, and the Next World War (2024, Dutton): CNN "national security" correspondent, two previous big books along these lines, including The Madman Theory: Trump Takes on the World.
  • Richard Sakwa: Deception: Russiagate and the New Cold War (paperback, 2023, Lexington Books).
  • George S Takach: Cold War 2.0: Artificial Intelligence in the New Battle Between China, Russia, and America (2024, Pegasus Books).
  • Noam Chomsky: Towards a New Cold War: US Foreign Policy From Vietnam to Reagan (1982; paperback, 2003, New Press): Searching for "new cold war" I found this ancient text, from the period when Reagan's hawks still had an old Cold War to escalate. The reprint, with a new introduction by John Pilger, clearly marked their plans for a revival with the Global War on Terror already going sideways, and reminds us that their blueprints just fed on old propaganda, easily recycled.

Along the way, I ran into some new books on the old Cold War, which bear mention here:

  • Paul Thomas Chamberlin: The Cold War's Killing Fields: Rethinking the Long Peace (2018; paperback, 2019, Harper).
  • Campbell Craig/Fredrik Logevall: America's Cold War: The Politics of Insecurity (2009; second edition, paperback, 2020, Belknap Press).
  • Jeffrey A Engel: When the World Seemed New: George HW Bush and the End of the Cold War (2017; paperback, 2018, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
  • Bridget Kendall: The Cold War: A New Oral History (paperback, 2018, BBC Physical Audio).
  • Chris Miller: The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy: Mikhail Gorbachev and the Collapse of the USSR (2016, University of North Carolina Press).
  • Jeff Shesol: Mercury Rising: John Glenn, John Kennedy, and the New Battleground of the Cold War (2021; paperback, 2022, WW Norton).
  • Natalia Telepneva: Cold War Liberation: The Soviet Union and the Collapse of the Portuguese Empire in Africa, 1961-1975 (paperback, 2022, University of North Carolina Press).
  • Odd Arne Westad: The Cold War: A World History (2017, Basic Books; paperback, 2019, Random House). He previously wrote:
  • Odd Arne Westad: The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (2005; paperback, 2011, Cambridge University Press).

Tom Schaller/Paul Waldman: White Rural Rage: The Threat to American Democracy (2024, Random House): "A searing exposé on what drives the average Republican voter in white rural America and what can be done to combat their rage." One of the more talked-about political books of late, as it documents and in many ways reinforces the divide between the Trump mob and their imagined enemies (urban, liberal, elitist, woke, ever so quick to castigate you as "deplorable"; even those who don't think of themselves as enemies are just as likely to offend with pity as loathing).

  • Michelle Wilde Anderson: The Fight to Save the Town: Reimagining Discarded America (2022; paperback, 2023, Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster).
  • Steven Conn: The Lies of the Land: Seeing Rural America for What It Is -- and Isn't (2023, University of Chicago Press).
  • Justin Gest: The New Minority: White Working Class Politics in an Age of Immigration and Inequality (paperback, 2016, Oxford University Press).
  • Nicholas F Jacobs/Daniel M Shea: The Rural Voter: The Politics of Place and the Disuniting of America (2023, Columbia University Press). Jacobs previously co-wrote:
  • Nicholas F Jacobs/Sidney M Milkis: What Happened to the Vital Center?: Presidentialism, Populist Revolt, and the Fracturing of America (paperback, 2022, Oxford University Press).
  • Kathleen Hall Jamieson/Paul Waldman: The Press Effect: Politicians, Journalists, and the Stories That Shape the Political World (2002; paperback, 2004, Oxford University Press).
  • Jonathan M Metzl: What We've Become: Living and Dying in a Country of Arms (2024, WW Norton).
  • Lainey Newman/Theda Skocpol: Rust Belt Union Blues: Why Working-Class Voters Are Turning Away From the Democratic Party (2023, Columbia University Press).
  • Paul Waldman: Fraud: The Strategy Behind the Bush Lies and Why the Media Didn't Tell You (2004, Sourcebooks).
  • Paul Waldman: Being Right Is Not Enough: What Progressives Can Learn From Conservative Success (2006, Wiley).

Adi Schwartz/Einat Wilf: The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace (paperback, 2020, St Martin's Griffin): Two "liberal Israelis supportive of a two-state solution" argue that there is no legal basis for a "right of return" (unlike Israel's Law of Return?), and that the very suggestion is "one of the largest obstacles to successful diplomacy and lasting peace in the region." They think UNRWA should be abolished, because it perpetuates the notion that the descendants of Palestinian exiles from 1948 are refugees, and as such are entitled to return to their homeland. This book is described as "a runaway bestseller in Israel," and as such is a fair document of the state-of-mind that was prepared to commit genocide when Oct. 7, 2023 happened. Other recent books on Israel, from all over the spectrum, including one somewhat sympathetic to Hamas, and lots that are pure hasbara (also see the lists under Boyarin, Horn, and Loewenstein):

  • Ami Ayalon: Friendly Fire: How Israel Became Its Own Worst Enemy and the Hope for Its Future (paperback, 2021, Steerforth Press): Former Shin Bet director, who understands that "when Israel carries out anti-terrorist operations in a political context of hopelessness, the Palestinian public will support violence, because they have nothing to lose." He isn't the only Israeli to realize that, but he's one of the few who do who sees it as a problem.
  • Sumaya Awad/Brian Bean, eds: Palestine: A Socialist Introduction (paperback, 2020, Haymarket Books).
  • Tareq Baconi: Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance (2018; paperback, 2022, Stanford University Press): Billed as "the first history of the group on its own terms," but critical, arguing that "the movement's ideology ultimately threatens the Palestinian struggle and, inadvertently, its own legitimacy," especially where "its brutality . . . has made permissible the collective punishment of millions of Palestinian civilians." I would caution, though, that regardless of what Hamas does, it is ultimately Israel that decides to punish, up to and now including genocide.
  • Jacques Baud: Operation Al-Aqsa Flood: The Defeat of the Vanquisher (paperback, 2024, Max Milo Editions): "The way Israel is fighting the Palestinians is leading to a loss of legitimacy that seems to be accelerating."
  • Jonah Jeremy Bob/Ilan Evyatar: Target Tehran: How Israel Is Using Sabotage, Cyberwarfare, Assassination -- and Secret Diplomacy -- to Stop a Nuclear Iran and Create a New Middle East (2023, Simon & Schuster): Israelis, bragging.
  • David Brog: Reclaiming Israel's History: Roots, Rights, and the Struggle for Peace (2017; paperback, 2018, Regnery): Note blurbs by John Hagee and Glenn Beck.
  • Alan Dershowitz: War Against the Jews: How to End Hamas Barbarism (2023, Hot Books): His usual The Case Against Israel's Enemies, quickly rebranded post-October 7.
  • Asaf Elia-Shalev: Israel's Black Panthers: The Radicals Who Punctured a Nation's Founding Myth (2024, University of Calilfornia Press).
  • George Gilder: The Israel Test: How Israel's Genius Enriches and Challenges the World (paperback, 2024, Encounter Books) [07-30].
  • Daniel Gordis: Impossible Takes Longer: 75 Years After Its Creation, Has Israel Fulfilled Its Founders' Dreams? (2023, Ecco): Author of many Israel fluff books, also the primary biography of Menachem Begin.
  • Marc Lamont Hill/Mitchell Plitnick: Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics (2021; paperback, 2022, New Press): Authors "spotlight how one-sided pro-Israel policies reflect the truth-bending grip of authoritarianism on both Israel and the United States."
  • Adam Race Hochdorf: Israel Has the Right to Exist & Defend Itself (paperback, 2024, Purple Poppy Publishing): Short (90 pp) but strident propaganda screed.
  • Michael A Horowitz: Hope and Despair: Israel's Future in the New Middle East (2024, Hurst). [06-01]
  • Dan Kovalik: The Case for Palestine: Why It Matters and Why You Should Care (2024, Hot Books). [05-28]
  • Mitri Raheb: Decolonizing Palestine: The Land, the People, the Bible (paperback, 2023, Orbis Books).
  • Dan Senor/Saul Singer: The Genius of Israel: The Surprising Resilience of a Divided Nation in a Turbulent World (2023, Avid Reader/Simon & Schuster).
  • Raja Shehadeh: What Does Israel Fear From Palestine? (paperback, 2024, Other Press). [06-11]
  • Avner Shur/Aviram Halevi: Sayeret Matkal: The Greatest Operations of Israel's Elite Commandos (2023, Skyhorse): No other nation brags about its illegal foreign ops quite like Israel does.
  • Grant F Smith: How Israel Made AIPAC: The Most Harmful Foreign Influence Operation in America (paperback, 2022, Institute for Research).
  • Jamie Stern-Weiner, ed: Deluge: Gaza and Isarel From Crisis to Cataclysm (paperback, 2024, OR Books): First serious book I'm aware of to reassess Israel after the Gaza genocide started.
  • Thomas Suárez: Palestine Hijacked: How Zionism Forged an Apartheid State From River to Sea (paperback, 2022, Olive Branch Press).
  • Nathan Thrall: A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy (2023, Metropolitan Books).

More recent books on older Israel/Palestine history:

  • Teresa Aranguren/Sandra Barrillaro: Against Erasure: A Photographic Memory of Palestine Before the Nakba (2024, Haymarket Books).
  • Linda Dittmar: Tracing Homelands: Israel, Palestine, and the Claims of Belonging (paperback, 2023, Interlink Books): A memoir, starting in the 1940s, later searching out ruins of villages destroyed in the Nakba.
  • Alan Dowty: Arabs and Jews in Ottoman Palestine: Two Worlds Collide (paperback, 2021, Indiana University Press).
  • Frederic C Hof: Reaching for the Heights: The Inside Story of a Secret Attempt to Reach a Syrian-Israeli Peace (2022, USIP Press): US ambassador, mediator of 2009-11 peace talks, which were scuttled by Obama's turn against Assad in the Arab Spring.
  • JMN Jeffries: Palestine: The Reality: The Inside Story of the Balfour Declaration (paperback, 2016, Olive Branch Press).
  • Uri Kaufman: Eighteen Days in October: The Yom Kippur War and How It Created the Modern Middle East (2023, St Martin's Press).
  • Oren Kessler: Palestine 1936: The Great Revolt and the Roots of the Middle East Conflict (2023, Rowman & Littlefield): Fairly major history of an oft-overlooked but very pivotal event.
  • Jamie Kirkpatrick: The Tales of Bismuth: Dispatches From Palestine, 1945-1948 (paperback, 2024, independent).
  • Peter Shambrook: Policy of Deceit: Britain and Palestine, 1914-1939 (2023, Oneworld Academic).
  • Gardner Thompson: Legacy of Empire: Britain, Zionism and the Creation of Israel (2020; paperback, 2022, Saqi Books): This is an important part of the story, as Israelis learned the art and craft of colonialism directly from the British, sometimes in concert and sometimes in opposition, retaining the legal framework and much of the mentality of their captors and patrons.

Timothy Shenk: Realigners: Partisan Hacks, Political Visionaries, and the Struggle to Rule American Democracy (2022; paperback, 2023, Farrar Straus and Giroux): Portraits of pivotal political figures from the founding to the present, not always going with the obvious choices (e.g., he goes with William Sumner over Abraham Lincoln, and Mark Hanna over William Jennings Bryan).

Richard Slotkin: A Great Disorder: National Myth and the Battle for America (2024, Belknap Press): This is a sweeping history of myth in America, the stories we've invented to explain and convince ourselves, starting with the frontier and the founding, and picking up every cliché of the last 240, not neglecting Trump and MAGA, which gets the better half of Part V ("The Age of Culture War"). Also by Slotkin:

  • Richard Slotkin: Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America (paperback, 1998, University of Oklahoma Press).
  • Richard Slotkin/James K Folsom, eds: So Dreadfull a Judgement: Puritan Responses to King Philip's War 1676-1677 (paperback, 1999, Wesleyan University Press).
  • Richard Slotkin: Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860 (paperback, 2000, University of Oklahoma Press).
  • Richard Slotkin: Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Criris of American Nationalism (paperback, 2006, St Martins Press).
  • Richard Slotkin: The Long Road to Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution (paperback, 2013, Liveright).
  • Richard Slotkin: Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800-1890 (paperback, 2017, University of Oklahoma Press).

Brian Stelter: Network of Lies: The Epic Saga of Fox News, Donald Trump, and the Battle for American Democracy (2023, Atria/One Signal): Expands on his previous Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth (2020). Fox News has long struck me as the single most important cog in the Republican mind control matrix, combining as it does self-funding, vast outreach, ideological rigor, and the immediacy and intimacy of television. More on Fox:

  • Chris Stirewalt: Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back (2022, Center Street): Former Fox News political editor, so he's contributed to the rage he writes about, and no doubt observed much more (and worse); senior fellow at AEI, which keeps him safely on the right, although he can try to pose that as balanced.
  • Kat Timpf: You Can't Joke About That: Why Everything Is Funny, Nothing Is Sacred, and We're All in This Together (2023, Broadside Books): Gutfeld! co-host and Fox News contributor.
  • Michael Wolff: The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty (2023, Henry Holt): Author of three insider-ish books on Trump, goes after the big fish this time.

Stuart Stevens: The Conspiracy to End America: Five Ways My Old Party Is Driving Our Democracy to Autocracy (2023, Twelve): "Never Trumper," former Lincoln Project strategist, back in 2020 wrote It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, returns with deeper thinking on what is no longer just his personal dilemma. He identifies "five autocratic building blocks": Propagandists; Support of a major party; Financers; Legal theories to legitimize actions; and Shock Troops.

Rory Stewart: How Not to Be a Politician (2023, Penguin Press): Wrote a book about hiking in Afghanistan, just after the Taliban fled. Wrote a book about being a British civil servant in Iraq, shortly after Bush and Blair invaded. Went back to England and wrote another book about how none of that worked. Decided to try his hand at politics, so he ran for a Tory MP seat, and won. Then he ran for party leader/prime minister, and lost. So by now, he figures he's failed enough he can write a memoir about it all. In the UK, he more optimistically called this book Politics on the Edge. For America, however . . . he opted to face the music, and 'fess up.

Yaroslav Trofimov: Our Enemies Will Vanish: The Russian Invasion and Ukraine's War of Independence (2024, Penguin Press): Wall Street Journal correspondent, born in Kyiv, highly partisan, but hailed as "the most comprehensive, authoritative book on the war to date." Latest batch of books on Ukraine:

  • Jacques Baud: The Russian Art of War: How the West Led Ukraine to Defeat (paperback, 2024, Max Milo Editions). Swiss military analyst, has a history of disparaging the West, or maybe just flattering Putin: Putin: Game Master? (2023); Operation Z (2023); The Navalny Case: Conspiracy to Serve Foreign Policy (2023).
  • Hal Brands, ed: War in Ukraine: Conflict, Strategy, and the Return of a Fractured World (paperback, 2024, Johns Hopkins University Press).
  • Glenn Diesen: The Ukraine War & the Eurasian World Order (paperback, 2024, Clarity Press): Appeals to "world order" obsessives, leaving little concern for Ukrainians.
  • Rory Finnin: Blood of Others: Stalin's Crimean Atrocity and the Poetics of Solidarity (paperback, 2024, University of Toronto Press).
  • Igort: How War Begins: Dispatches From the Ukrainian Invasion (2024, Fantagraphics): Graphic journalism.
  • Volodymyr Ishchenko: Towards the Abyss: Ukraine From Maidan to War (paperback, 2024, Verso).
  • Michael Kimmage: Collisions: The Origins of the War in Ukraine and the New Global Instability (2024, Oxford University Press).
  • Fadi Lama: Why the West Can't Win: From Bretton Woods to a Multipolar World (paperback, 2023, Clarity Press): Ukraine is one example.
  • Christopher A Lawrence: The Battle for Kyiv: The Fight for Ukraine's Capital (2024, Frontline Books).
  • Paul Moorcraft: Putin's Wars and NATO's Flaws: Why Russia Invaded Ukraine (2024, Pen and Sword Military): Author has a long list of war books, "from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe."
  • Simon Schuster: The Showman: Inside the Invasion That Shook the World and Made a Leader of Volodymyr Zelensky (2024, William Morrow).

Yanis Varoufakis: Techno Feudalism: What Killed Capitalism (paperback, 2024, Melville House): Greek economist, had a brief fling with fame as finance minister under the radical Syriza government, but quit rather than accept the austerity measures the EU insisted on. He argues that something fundamental has changed: "Big tech has replaced capitalism's twin pillars -- markets and profit -- with its platforms and rents. With every click and scroll, we labor like serfs to increase its power."

  • Joel Kotkin: The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class (2020; paperback, 2023, Encounter Books): Not much difference between Varoufakis' "techno feudalism" and this one, especially from the vantage point of the neo-serfs.

Alexander Ward: The Internationalists: The Fight to Restore American Foreign Policy After Trump (2024, Portfolio): Major reporting on Joe Biden's foreign policy team, their critique of Trump's offenses against "democratic allies" and coddling of "authoritarians" (especially the much despised Vladimir Putin), and how they sought to return America to its pre-Trump eminence as the leader of the Free World. Less reporting on how often that backfired, with the book's cutoff date minimizing the stalemate in Ukraine, and omitting any mention of the unfolding genocide in Gaza, or Israel's persistent efforts to embroil America in war with Iran and other irrelevant but easily maligned enemies. The problem is that Biden remains trapped in the supposedly benign superpower cult that emerged post-Cold War under Clinton, Bush, and Obama, and even more committed to the real dictators of American foreign policy: Israel and the arms cartel -- precisely the graft Trump most indulged, so he's not so different from Trump after all.

Fareed Zakaria: Age of Revolutions: Progress and Backlash From 1600 to the Present (2024, WW Norton): Big-picture history, with opening chapters on the Netherlands, England, and France, then shifts focus to industrialization in Britain and the United States, then his more topical concerns of globalization and contemporary geopolitics.

Additional books, noted without comments other than for clarity. I reserve the right to return to some of these later (but probably won't; many are here because I don't want to think about them further).

Kali Akuno/Ajamu Nangwaya [Cooperation Jackson]: Jackson Rising; The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi (paperback, 2017, Daraja Press).

Thomas J Baker: The Fall of the FBI: How a Once Great Agency Became a Threat to Democracy (2022, Bombardier Books): Actually, the FBI was always a threat to democracy.

Stephen Breyer: Reading the Constitution: Why I Chose Pragmatism, Not Textualism (2024, Simon & Schuster): Retired Supreme Court Justice.

Jennifer Burns: Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative (2023, Farrar Straus and Giroux).

Liz Cheney: Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning (2023, Little Brown).

Jared Cohen: Life After Power: Seven Presidents and Their Search for Purpose Beyond the White House (2024, Simon & Schuster). Previously wrote (suggesting a business plan, which is supported by his biography):

Jared Cohen: Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America (2019; paperback, 2020, Simon & Schuster).

McKay Coppins: Romney: A Reckoning (2023, Scribner).

Jeremy Eichler: Time's Echo: The Second World War, the Holocaust, and the Music of Remembrance (2023, Knopf).

Philip Gefter: Cocktails With George and Martha: Movies, Marriage, and the Making of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2024, Bloomsbury).

Doris Kearns Goodwin: An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s (2024, Simon & Schuster).

Phil Gramm/Robert Ekelund/John Early: The Myth of American Inequality: How Government Biases Policy Debate (2022, Rowman & Littlefield).

Adam Kinzinger: Renegade: Defending Democracy and Liberty in Our Divided Country (2023, The Open Field): Former Representative (R-IL), voted to impeach Trump, served on House Jan. 6 Committee.

Erik Larson: The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War (2024, Crown).

Michael Lewis: Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon (2023, WW Norton): A profile of FTX founder ("crypto's Gatsby") Sam Bankman-Fried (since convicted for massive fraud).

Yascha Mounk: The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure (2022, Penguin Press).

Yascha Mounk: The Identity Trap: A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time (2023, Penguin Press).

Peter Pomerantsev: This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality (2019, PublicAffairs).

Peter Pomerantsev: How to Win an Information War: The Propagandist Who Outwitted Hitler (2024, PublicAffairs): On Thomas Sefton Delmer, who worked for Britain during WWII, but also thinking about the author's favorite subject, Vladimir Putin.

Marilynne Robinson: Reading Genesis (2024, Farrar Straus and Giroux).

Rick Rubin: The Creative Act: A Way of Being (2023, Penguin Press): Music producer (Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash).

Patrick Ruffini: Party of the People: Inside the Multiracial Populist Coaliltion Remaking the GOP (2023, Simon & Schuster).

Salman Rushdie: Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder (2024, Random House).

Lucy Sante: I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir of Transition (2024, Penguin Press).

Erella Shadmi: The Legacy of Mothers: Matriarchies and the Gift Economy as Post Capitalist Alternatives (paperback, 2021, Inanna Publications).

John Sides/Chris Tausanovitch/Lynn Vavreck: The Bitter End: The 2020 Presidential Campaign and the Challenge to American Democracy (2022; paperback, 2023, Princeton University Press).

Benn Steil: The World That Wasn't: Henry Wallace and the Fate of the American Century (2024, Avid Reader/Simon & Schuster).

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins, ed: Did It Happen Here? Perspectives on Fascism and America (2024, WW Norton).

Matthew Stewart: An Emancipation of the Mind: Radical Philosophy, the War Over Slavery, and the Refounding of America (2024, WW Norton).

Calvin Trillin: The Lede: Dispatches From a Life in the Press (2024, Random House). Also note:

Calvin Trillin: Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff (2011; paperback, 2012, Random House).

James Traub: True Believer: Hubert Humphrey's Quest for a More Just America (2024, Basic Books).

Jacob L Wright: Why the Bible Began: An Alternative History of Scripture and Its Origins (2023, Cambridge University Press).

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