Wednesday, January 19, 2022

ENG 102 Books (2022)

Abramson, John. Abramson, John. "Big Pharma." Lex Fridman Podcast (February 10, 2022) ["John Abramson is faculty at Harvard Medical School and a family physician for over two decades. He’s the author of the new book Sickening about how big pharma broke American healthcare and how we can fix it."] 

---. Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It. Mariner Books, 2022. ["The inside story of how Big Pharma’s relentless pursuit of ever-higher profits corrupts medical knowledge—misleading doctors, misdirecting American health care, and harming our health. The United States spends an excess $1.5 trillion annually on health care compared to other wealthy countries—yet the amount of time that Americans live in good health ranks a lowly 68th in the world. At the heart of the problem is Big Pharma, which funds most clinical trials and therefore controls the research agenda, withholds the real data from those trials as corporate secrets, and shapes most of the information relied upon by health care professionals. In this no-holds-barred exposé, Dr. John Abramson—one of the foremost experts on the drug industry’s deceptive tactics—combines patient stories with what he learned during many years of serving as an expert in national drug litigation to reveal the tangled web of financial interests at the heart of the dysfunction in our health-care system. For example, one of pharma’s best-kept secrets is that the peer reviewers charged with ensuring the accuracy and completeness of the clinical trial reports published in medical journals do not even have access to complete data and must rely on manufacturer-influenced summaries. Likewise for the experts who write the clinical practice guidelines that define our standards of care. The result of years of research and privileged access to the inner workings of the U.S. medical-industrial complex, Sickening shines a light on the dark underbelly of American health care—and presents a path toward genuine reform."]

Alkon, Alison Hope, Yuki Kato, and Joshua Sbicca. "A Recipe for Gentrification: Food, Power, and Resistance in the City (NYU Press, 2020)." New Books in Food (December 31, 2021) ["A Recipe for Gentrification: Food, Power, and Resistance in the City (NYU Press, 2020), edited by Alison Hope Alkon, Yuki Kato, and Joshua Sbicca, is a collection of essays examining how gentrification uproots the urban food landscape, and what activists are doing to resist it. From hipster coffee shops to upscale restaurants, a bustling local food scene is perhaps the most commonly recognized harbinger of gentrification. A Recipe for Gentrification explores this widespread phenomenon, showing the ways in which food and gentrification are deeply―and, at times, controversially―intertwined. Contributors provide an inside look at gentrification in different cities, from major hubs like New York and Los Angeles to smaller cities like Cleveland and Durham. They examine a wide range of food enterprises―including grocery stores, restaurants, community gardens, and farmers' markets―to provide up-to-date perspectives on why gentrification takes place, and how communities use food to push back against displacement. Ultimately, they unpack the consequences for vulnerable people and neighborhoods. A Recipe for Gentrification highlights how the everyday practices of growing, purchasing and eating food reflect the rapid―and contentious―changes taking place in American cities in the twenty-first century."]

Anderson, Kurt. Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America. Random House, 2020. ["During the twentieth century, America managed to make its economic and social systems both more and more fair and more and more prosperous. A huge, secure, and contented middle class emerged. All boats rose together. But then the New Deal gave way to the Raw Deal. Beginning in the early 1970s, by means of a long war conceived of and executed by a confederacy of big business CEOs, the superrich, and right-wing zealots, the rules and norms that made the American middle class possible were undermined and dismantled. The clock was turned back on a century of economic progress, making greed good, workers powerless, and the market all-powerful while weaponizing nostalgia, lifting up an oligarchy that served only its own interests, and leaving the huge majority of Americans with dwindling economic prospects and hope. Why and how did America take such a wrong turn? In this deeply researched and brilliantly woven cultural, economic, and political chronicle, Kurt Andersen offers a fresh, provocative, and eye-opening history of America’s undoing, naming names, showing receipts, and unsparingly assigning blame—to the radical right in economics and the law, the high priests of high finance, a complacent and complicit Establishment, and liberal “useful idiots,” among whom he includes himself. Only a writer with Andersen’s crackling energy, deep insight, and ability to connect disparate dots and see complex systems with clarity could make such a book both intellectually formidable and vastly entertaining. And only a writer of Andersen’s vision could reckon with our current high-stakes inflection point, and show the way out of this man-made disaster."]

Biagetti, Samuel. "Myth of the Month #16: The Founding Fathers." Historiansplaining (April 1, 2022)  ["The 'Founding Fathers' -- the most rarefied club in American history -- stand in for everything we love or hate about this country, from its civic and religious freedom to its white supremacism. As if carved in stone (which they oftentimes are), they loom over every political debate, even though most of us know next to nothing about them, or even who counts as one of the group. Coined by that immortal wordsmith, President Warren Harding, the phrase "Founding Fathers" serves as an empty vessel for civic emotion, conveniently covering over the actual history of struggle, conflict, and contention that shaped the American republic." Book resources: Woody Holton, Forced Founders and Unruly Americans and the Origins of the US Consitution; Gordon Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution; Gerald Horne, The Counter-Revolution of 1776; Charles Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the United States Constitution; Joseph Ellis, Founding Brothers.]

Boehm, Christopher. Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame. Basic Books, 2012. ["From the age of Darwin to the present day, biologists have been grappling with the origins of our moral sense. Why, if the human instinct to survive and reproduce is "selfish," do people engage in self-sacrifice, and even develop ideas like virtue and shame to justify that altruism? Many theories have been put forth, some emphasizing the role of nepotism, others emphasizing the advantages of reciprocation or group selection effects. But evolutionary anthropologist Christopher Boehm finds existing explanations lacking, and in Moral Origins, he offers an elegant new theory. Tracing the development of altruism and group social control over 6 million years, Boehm argues that our moral sense is a sophisticated defense mechanism that enables individuals to survive and thrive in groups. One of the biggest risks of group living is the possibility of being punished for our misdeeds by those around us. Bullies, thieves, free-riders, and especially psychopaths -- those who make it difficult for others to go about their lives -- are the most likely to suffer this fate. Getting by requires getting along, and this social type of selection, Boehm shows, singles out altruists for survival. This selection pressure has been unique in shaping human nature, and it bred the first stirrings of conscience in the human species. Ultimately, it led to the fully developed sense of virtue and shame that we know today.A groundbreaking exploration of the evolution of human generosity and cooperation, Moral Origins offers profound insight into humanity's moral past -- and how it might shape our moral future."]

Brown, Vincent. Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War. Belknap Press, 2022. ["In the second half of the eighteenth century, as European imperial conflicts extended the domain of capitalist agriculture, warring African factions fed their captives to the transatlantic slave trade while masters struggled continuously to keep their restive slaves under the yoke. In this contentious atmosphere, a movement of enslaved West Africans in Jamaica (then called Coromantees) organized to throw off that yoke by violence. Their uprising—which became known as Tacky’s Revolt—featured a style of fighting increasingly familiar today: scattered militias opposing great powers, with fighters hard to distinguish from noncombatants. It was also part of a more extended borderless conflict that spread from Africa to the Americas and across the island. Even after it was put down, the insurgency rumbled throughout the British Empire at a time when slavery seemed the dependable bedrock of its dominion. That certitude would never be the same, nor would the views of black lives, which came to inspire both more fear and more sympathy than before. Tracing the roots, routes, and reverberations of this event across disparate parts of the Atlantic world, Vincent Brown offers us a superb geopolitical thriller. Tacky’s Revolt expands our understanding of the relationship between European, African, and American history, as it speaks to our understanding of wars of terror today."]

Brown, Wendy. "Why Critics of Angry Woke College Kids Are Missing the Point." Talk (May 1, 2022) [Wendy Brown's latest book is In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West.]

Conti, Paul. Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic: How Trauma Works and How We Can Heal From It. Sounds True, 2021. ["Imagine, if you will, a disease—one that has only subtle outward symptoms but can hijack your entire body without notice, one that transfers easily between parent and child, one that can last a lifetime if untreated. According to Dr. Paul Conti, this is exactly how society should conceptualize trauma: as an out-of-control epidemic with a potentially fatal prognosis. In Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic, Dr. Conti examines the most recent research, clinical best practices, and dozens of real-life stories to present a deeper and more urgent view of trauma. Not only does Dr. Conti explain how trauma affects the body and mind, he also demonstrates that trauma is transmissible among close family and friends, as well as across generations and within vast demographic groups. With all this in mind, Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic proposes a course of treatment for the seemingly untreatable. Here, Dr. Conti traces a step-by-step series of concrete changes that we can make both as individuals and as a society to alleviate trauma’s effects and prevent further traumatization in the future. You will discover: The different post-trauma syndromes, how they are classified, and their common symptoms. An examination of how for-profit health care systems can inhibit diagnosis and treatment of trauma. How social crises and political turmoil encourage the spread of group trauma. Methods for confronting and managing your fears as they arise in the moment. How trauma disrupts mental processes such as memory, emotional regulation, and logical decision-making. The argument for a renewed humanist social commitment to mental health and wellness It’s only when we understand how a disease spreads and is sustained that we are able to create its ultimate cure. With Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic, Dr. Conti reveals that what we once considered a lifelong, unbeatable mental illness is both treatable and preventable. A Journey Toward Understanding, Active Treatment, and Societal Prevention of Trauma."]

Conti, Paul and Andrew Huberman. "Therapy, Treating Trauma & Other Life Challenges." The Huberman Lab (June 6, 2022) ["Dr. Paul Conti, M.D., is a psychiatrist and expert in treating trauma, personality disorders and psychiatric illnesses and challenges of various kinds. Dr. Conti earned his MD at Stanford and did his residency at Harvard Medical School. He now runs the Pacific Premiere Group—a clinical practice helping people heal and grow from trauma and other life challenges. We discuss trauma: what it is and its far-reaching effects on the mind and body, as well as the best treatment approaches for trauma. We also explore how to choose a therapist and how to get the most out of therapy, as well as how to do self-directed therapy. We discuss the positive and negative effects of antidepressants, ADHD medications, alcohol, cannabis, and the therapeutic potential of psychedelics (e.g., psilocybin and LSD), ketamine and MDMA. This episode is must listen for anyone seeking or already doing therapy, processing trauma, and/or considering psychoactive medication. Both patients and practitioners ought to benefit from the information." Conti is the author of the book Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic: How Trauma Works and How We Can Heal From It]

Courtwright, David T. The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business. Belknap Press, 2019. ["From a leading expert on addiction, a provocative, singularly authoritative history of how sophisticated global businesses have targeted the human brain's reward centers, driving us to addictions ranging from oxycodone to Big Macs to Assassin's Creed to Snapchat--with alarming social consequences. We live in an age of addiction, from compulsive gaming and shopping to binge eating and opioid abuse. Sugar can be as habit-forming as cocaine, researchers tell us, and social media apps are hooking our kids. But what can we do to resist temptations that insidiously and deliberately rewire our brains? Nothing, David Courtwright says, unless we understand the history and character of the global enterprises that create and cater to our bad habits. The Age of Addiction chronicles the triumph of what Courtwright calls "limbic capitalism," the growing network of competitive businesses targeting the brain pathways responsible for feeling, motivation, and long-term memory. We see its success in Purdue Pharma's pain pills, in McDonald's engineered burgers, and in Tencent video games from China. All capitalize on the ancient quest to discover, cultivate, and refine new and habituating pleasures. The business of satisfying desire assumed a more sinister aspect with the rise of long-distance trade, plantation slavery, anonymous cities, large corporations, and sophisticated marketing. Multinational industries, often with the help of complicit governments and criminal organizations, have multiplied and cheapened seductive forms of brain reward, from junk food to pornography. The internet has brought new addictions: in 2018, the World Health Organization added "gaming disorder" to its International Classification of Diseases. Courtwright holds out hope that limbic capitalism can be contained by organized opposition from across the political spectrum. Progressives, nationalists, and traditionalists have made common cause against the purveyors of addiction before. They could do it again."]

Davis, Wade. "Anthropologist Wade Davis Discusses His Life and Work." New Books in Anthropology (May 5, 2021) ["Of the three major influences on Wade Davis’ life and work one of the most important is the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gary Snyder, and in this interview the professor shares how foundational that connection remains. This is just one highlight of many he shares about his thinking and writing as Wade indulges my interest in his ‘craft of culture’ on his path to becoming a renowned storyteller. This professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia, former Explorer-in-Residence for the National Geographic Society, and award-winning author, Davis shares the interesting back stories of his best-selling first book, The Serpent and The Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist's Astonishing Journey Into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombis, and Magic, about his research into Haitian ‘zombie poison’, how his hypothesis was publically challenged, and how the Hollywood movie version was just the kind of cultural distortion he was trying to overcome with his book. In the course of talking about this first book which helped launch his writing career he shares thoughts about academic writing more generally and in particular how his PhD thesis, Passage of Darkness, is really a sterile version of the richer and more textured narrative of the first book even though the latter is preferred by academics. For that matter, Wade has something to say about academic objectivity before we move on to talk about his influential One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest, his CBC lectures-inspired The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, and his award-winning Into The Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest. He also speaks at length about the influence of his Harvard mentors – the British anthropologist David May Ray Lewis, and the botanist and plant explorer Richard Evan Schultes, and how he and the late botanical explorer Tim Plowman made up the ‘coca project’ and the significance of ‘the divine leaf of immortality’."]

---. Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. Anansi, 2009. ["Every culture is a unique answer to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? In The Wayfinders, renowned anthropologist, winner of the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis leads us on a thrilling journey to celebrate the wisdom of the world's indigenous cultures. In Polynesia we set sail with navigators whose ancestors settled the Pacific ten centuries before Christ. In the Amazon we meet the descendants of a true lost civilization, the Peoples of the Anaconda. In the Andes we discover that the earth really is alive, while in Australia we experience Dreamtime, the all-embracing philosophy of the first humans to walk out of Africa. We then travel to Nepal, where we encounter a wisdom hero, a Bodhisattva, who emerges from forty-five years of Buddhist retreat and solitude. And finally we settle in Borneo, where the last rainforest nomads struggle to survive. Understanding the lessons of this journey will be our mission for the next century. For at risk is the human legacy -- a vast archive of knowledge and expertise, a catalogue of the imagination. Rediscovering a new appreciation for the diversity of the human spirit, as expressed by culture, is among the central challenges of our time."]

Durgnaut, Raymond. A Long Hard Look at Psycho. British Film Institute, 2010. ["Upon its release in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho divided critical opinion, with several leading film critics condemning Hitchcock's apparent encouragement of the audience's identification with the gruesome murder that lies at the heart of the film. Such antipathy did little to harm Psycho's box-office returns, and it would go on to be acknowledged as one of the greatest film thrillers, with scenes and characters that are among the most iconic in all cinema. In his illuminating study of Psycho, Raymond Durgnat provides a minute analysis of its unfolding narrative, enabling us to consider what happens to the viewer as he or she watches the film, and to think afresh about questions of spectatorship, Hollywood narrative codes, psycho-analysis, editing and shot composition. In his introduction to the new edition, Henry K. Miller presents A Long Hard Look at 'Psycho' as the culmination of Durgnat's decades-long campaign to correct what he called film studies' 'Grand Error'. In the course of expounding Durgnat's root-and-branch challenge to our inherited shibboleths about Hollywood cinema in general and Hitchcock in particular, Miller also describes the eclectic intellectual tradition to which Durgnat claimed allegiance. This band of amis inconnus, among them William Empson, Edgar Morin and Manny Farber, had at its head Durgnat's mentor Thorold Dickinson. The book's story begins in the early 1960s, when Dickinson made the long hard look the basis of his pioneering film course at the Slade School of Fine Art, and Psycho became one of its first objects."]

Ellis, Joseph J. "The Cause: The American Revolution and Its Discontents, 1773-1783 (Liveright 2021)." New Books in History (December 27, 2021) ["In one of the most “exciting and engaging” (Gordon S. Wood) histories of the American founding in decades, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Joseph J. Ellis offers an epic account of the origins and clashing ideologies of America’s revolutionary era, recovering a war more brutal, and more disorienting, than any in our history, save perhaps the Civil War. For more than two centuries, historians have debated the history of the American Revolution, disputing its roots, its provenance, and above all, its meaning. These questions have intrigued Ellis―one of our most celebrated scholars of American history―throughout his entire career. With this much-anticipated volume, he at last brings the story of the revolution to vivid life, with “surprising relevance” (Susan Dunn) for our modern era. Completing a trilogy of books that began with Founding Brothers, The Cause: The American Revolution and Its Discontents, 1773-1783 (Liveright, 2021) returns us to the very heart of the American founding, telling the military and political story of the war for independence from the ground up, and from all sides: British and American, loyalist and patriot, white and Black. Taking us from the end of the Seven Years’ War to 1783, and drawing on a wealth of previously untapped sources, The Cause interweaves action-packed tales of North American military campaigns with parlor-room intrigues back in England, creating a thrilling narrative that brings together a cast of familiar and long-forgotten characters. Here Ellis recovers the stories of Catherine Littlefield Greene, wife of Major General Nathanael Greene, the sister among the “band of brothers”; Thayendanegea, a Mohawk chief known to the colonists as Joseph Brant, who led the Iroquois Confederation against the Patriots; and Harry Washington, the enslaved namesake of George Washington, who escaped Mount Vernon to join the British Army and fight against his former master. Countering popular histories that romanticize the “Spirit of ’76,” Ellis demonstrates that the rebels fought under the mantle of “The Cause,” a mutable, conveniently ambiguous principle that afforded an umbrella under which different, and often conflicting, convictions and goals could coexist. Neither an American nation nor a viable government existed at the end of the war. In fact, one revolutionary legacy regarded the creation of such a nation, or any robust expression of government power, as the ultimate betrayal of The Cause. This legacy alone rendered any effective response to the twin tragedies of the founding―slavery and the Native American dilemma―problematic at best."]

Estes, Nick. "The Empire of All Maladies: Colonial Contagions and Indigenous Resistance." The Baffler #52 (July 2020) ["One of the most potent myths of mainstream U.S. historiography concerns what Indigenous archaeologist Michael V. Wilcox calls “terminal narratives”: an obsession with the death, disappearance, and absence of Indigenous people rather than their continued, visible presence and challenge to colonialism. The most obvious example of this tendency are historical models that assign blame for the mass killing of the Indigenous to invisible, chance forces—above all, the diseases colonizers unwittingly carried with them—rather than to calculated warfare and theft over centuries of relentless European invasion." Nick Estes is the author of Our History is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance.]

Fishkin, Joseph and William E. Forbath. "The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution: Reconstructing the Economic Foundations of American Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2022)." New Books in Law (March 31, 2022) ["Oligarchy is a threat to the American republic. When too much economic and political power is concentrated in too few hands, we risk losing the “republican form of government” the Constitution requires. Today, courts enforce the constitution as if it had almost nothing to say about this threat. The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution: Reconstructing the Economic Foundations of American Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2022) is a bold call to reclaim an American tradition that argues the constitution imposes a duty on government to fight oligarchy and ensure broadly shared wealth. In this revolutionary retelling of constitutional history, Dr. Joseph Fishkin and Dr. William Forbath show that a commitment to prevent oligarchy once stood at the center of a robust tradition in American political and constitutional thought. Dr. Fishkin and Dr. Forbath argue that “The constitutional order does rest and depend on a political-economic order. That political-economic order does not maintain itself. It requires action (as well as forbearance from action) from each part of the government. The content of what is required changes radically over time in a dynamic way in response to changes in the economy and in politics. But we believe the basic principles of the democracy-of-opportunity tradition remain affirmative constitutional obligations of government today: to prevent an oligarchy from emerging and amassing too much power; to preserve a broad and open middle class as a counterweight against oligarchy and a bulwark of democratic life; and to include everyone, not just those privileged by race or sex, in a democracy of opportunity that is broad enough to unite us all.” Dr. Fishkin and Dr. Forbath demonstrate that reformers, legislators, and even judges working in this “democracy-of-opportunity” tradition understood that the Constitution imposes a duty on legislatures to thwart oligarchy and promote a broad distribution of wealth and political power. These ideas led Jacksonians to fight special economic privileges for the few, Populists to try to break up monopoly power, and Progressives to fight for the constitutional right to form a union. During Reconstruction, Radical Republicans argued in this tradition that racial equality required breaking up the oligarchy of the Slave Power and distributing wealth and opportunity to former slaves and their descendants. President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Dealers built their politics around this tradition, winning the fight against the “economic royalists” and “industrial despots.” The book argues that our current understanding of what counts as a constitutional argument is anachronistic and limiting. In fact, the authors argue that “advocates of the democracy-of-opportunity tradition and their opponents throughout the long period from the founding through the New Deal disagreed about many things, but they agreed that part of arguing about the Constitution is making claims about what it requires of our political economy.""]

Ford, Phil and J.F. Martel. "Demon Workshop: On Victoria Nelson's Neighbor George." Weird Studies #128 (July 19, 2022) ["The American writer and thinker Victoria Nelson is justly revered by afficionados of the Weird for The Secret Life of Puppets and its follow-up Gothicka. Both are masterful explorations the supernatural as it subsists in the "sub-Zeitgeist" of the modern secular West. In 2021, Strange Attractor Press released Neighbor George, Nelson's first novel. In this episode, JF and Phil discuss this gothic anti-romance with a mind to seeing how it contributes to Nelson's overall project of acquainting us with the eldritch undercurrents of contemporary life."]

Fried, Stephen. "The Fascinating Life of America's Forgotten Founding Father." The Art of Manliness (June 27, 2022) ["The 18th century doctor, civic leader, and renaissance man Benjamin Rush was one of the youngest signers of the Declaration of Independence, edited and named Thomas Paine's Common Sense, implemented medical practices that helped the Continental Army win the Revolutionary War, made sure Benjamin Franklin attended the Constitutional Convention, and shaped the medical and political landscape of the newly formed United States. Yet despite his outsized influence, the varied and interesting life he led, and the close relationships he had with other founding fathers like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, Rush is hardly remembered today. That's because of just how close his relationship with those other founders was. Rush was a personal physician to them and their families, and after his death, they suppressed his legacy, not wanting the intimate and unflattering details he had recorded in his letters and journals to be publicized. In fact, his memoir was considered too dangerous to be published and wasn't found for nearly 150 years. My guest will re-introduce us to this forgotten figure. His name is Stephen Fried, and he's the author of Rush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father. Today on the show, Stephen takes us through Rush's fascinating life, from his self-made rise out of inauspicious childhood, to how he was able to reconcile an estranged Jefferson and Adams before his death, and what Stephen has learned from studying a character who lived through very fraught and not totally unfamiliar times."]

Gabriele, Matthew and David M. Perry. "The Case for the Bright Ages." On the Media (January 14, 2022) ["Today, when we encounter the medieval world it’s mostly a dark time. Un-enlightened by reason, but also literally gloomy – all bare stone and grey skies. We know it as a brutal time, dominated by white men with steeds and swords, or drenched in blood by marauding Vikings. But in their new book, The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, historians Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry trace the harm of the myths of the “Dark Ages,” and illuminate the medieval stories that have mostly escaped our modern gaze."]

Goh, Robbie B.H. Christopher Nolan: Filmmaker and Philosopher. Bloomsbury Academic, 2021. ["Christopher Nolan is the writer and director of Hollywood blockbusters like The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, and also of arthouse films like Memento and Inception. Underlying his staggering commercial success however, is a darker sensibility that questions the veracity of human knowledge, the allure of appearance over reality and the latent disorder in contemporary society. This appreciation of the sinister owes a huge debt to philosophy and especially modern thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and Jacques Derrida. Taking a thematic approach to Nolan's oeuvre, Robbie Goh examines how the director's postmodern inclinations manifest themselves in non-linearity, causal agnosticism, the threat of social anarchy and the frequent use of the mise en abyme, while running counter to these are narratives of heroism, moral responsibility and the dignity of human choice. For Goh, Nolan is a 'reluctant postmodernist'. His films reflect the cynicism of the modern world, but with their representation of heroic moral triumphs, they also resist it."]

Graetz, Michael and Ian Shapiro. The Wolf At the Door: The Menace of Economic Insecurity and How to Fight It. Harvard University Press, 2020. ["The acclaimed authors of Death by a Thousand Cuts argue that Americans care less about inequality than about their own insecurity. Michael Graetz and Ian Shapiro propose realistic policies and strategies to make lives and communities more secure. This is an age of crisis. That much we can agree on. But a crisis of what? And how do we get out of it? Many on the right call for tax cuts and deregulation. Others on the left rage against the top 1 percent and demand wholesale economic change. Voices on both sides line up against globalization: restrict trade to protect jobs. In The Wolf at the Door, two leading political analysts argue that these views are badly mistaken. Michael Graetz and Ian Shapiro focus on what really worries people: not what the rich are making but rather their own insecurity and that of people close to them. Americans are concerned about losing what they have, whether jobs, status, or safe communities. They fear the wolf at the door. The solution is not protectionism or class warfare but a return to the hard work of building coalitions around realistic goals and pursuing them doggedly through the political system. This, Graetz and Shapiro explain, is how earlier reformers achieved meaningful changes, from the abolition of the slave trade to civil rights legislation. The authors make substantial recommendations for increasing jobs, improving wages, protecting families suffering from unemployment, and providing better health insurance and child care, and they guide us through the strategies needed to enact change. These are achievable reforms that would make Americans more secure. The Wolf at the Door is one of those rare books that not only diagnose our problems but also show us how we can address them."]

Grant, Barry Keith, ed. The Dread of Difference: Gender and the Horror Film. 2nd ed. The University of Texas press, 2015. ["The Dread of Difference is a classic. Few film studies texts have been so widely read and so influential. It’s rarely on the shelf at my university library, so continuously does it circulate. Now this new edition expands the already comprehensive coverage of gender in the horror film with new essays on recent developments such as the Hostel series and torture porn. Informative and enlightening, this updated classic is an essential reference for fans and students of horror movies.”—Stephen Prince, editor of The Horror Film and author of Digital Visual Effects in Cinema: The Seduction of Reality; “An impressive array of distinguished scholars . . . gazes deeply into the darkness and then forms a Dionysian chorus reaffirming that sexuality and the monstrous are indeed mated in many horror films.”—Choice;  “An extremely useful introduction to recent thinking about gender issues within this genre.”—Film Theory]

Haidt, Jonathan. "Why the Past Ten Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid." The Atlantic (April 11, 2022)

---. "Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid." Honestly (April 12, 2022) ["Perhaps you’ve noticed that the thing we call “social media'' is deeply antisocial—the thing that promised to unite us has done precisely the opposite. A lot of people have tried to explain why. They blame Mark Zuckerberg. Or Jack Dorsey. Or the attention-stealing algorithms of TikTok. Or capitalism. Or human nature. But the best explanation I have read to date was just published in the Atlantic by my guest today Jonathan Haidt. It is a must-read essay, as are Jonathan’s books, The Righteous Mind and The Coddling of the American Mind. Our conversation today, fitting the importance of this subject, is long and deep. It spans the advent of the like button–and how that transformed the way we use the internet–to Jon’s argument that social media is making us unfit for democracy. And that unless we change course we stand to lose everything."]

Harris, Dan. 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works. It Books, 2014. ["Nightline anchor Dan Harris embarks on an unexpected, hilarious, and deeply skeptical odyssey through the strange worlds of spirituality and self-help, and discovers a way to get happier that is truly achievable. After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure, involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had both propelled him through the ranks of a hyper-competitive business and also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out. We all have a voice in our head. It’s what has us losing our temper unnecessarily, checking our email compulsively, eating when we’re not hungry, and fixating on the past and the future at the expense of the present. Most of us would assume we’re stuck with this voice – that there’s nothing we can do to rein it in – but Harris stumbled upon an effective way to do just that. It’s a far cry from the miracle cures peddled by the self-help swamis he met; instead, it’s something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation. After learning about research that suggests meditation can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain, Harris took a deep dive into the underreported world of CEOs, scientists, and even marines who are now using it for increased calm, focus, and happiness. 10% Happier takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America’s spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives. "]

Haugeberg, Karissa and Mary Ziegler. "The 300-Year History of Abortion in America—in 30 Minutes." In Plain English (May 6, 2022) ["Sometimes, people ask “why study history?” How about this: American history is the weapon being used to strike down Roe Vs Wade. In the leaked draft of the Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe, conservative Justice Samuel Alito writes that Roe invented a right to abortion that cannot be found in early American history. Is he right? And what’s the true history of abortion in America? That’s the subject of today’s episode—a fast, factual guide to how we got to this moment, reviewing the 300-year history of abortion in America in just 30 minutes. Today’s guests are two historians of abortion in American—Mary Ziegler [link to her books], a visiting prof at Harvard, and Karissa Haugeberg [link to her books], assistant professor at Tulane University."]

Hill, Samantha Rose. Hannah Arendt. Reaktion Books, 2021. ["Hannah Arendt is one of the most renowned political thinkers of the twentieth century and her work has never been more relevant than it is today. Born in Germany in 1906, Arendt published her first book at the age of 23, before turning away from the world of academic philosophy to reckon with the rise of the Third Reich. After the War, Arendt became one of the most prominent – and controversial – public intellectuals of her time, publishing influential works such as The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition and Eichmann in Jerusalem. Samantha Rose Hill weaves together new biographical detail, archival documents, poems and correspondence to reveal a woman whose passion for the life of the mind was nourished by her love of the world."]

Hiruta, Kei. "Hannah Arendt and Isaiah Berlin: Freedom, Politics and Humanity (Princeton UP, 2021)." New Books in Political Science (February 28, 2022) ["Two of the most iconic thinkers of the twentieth century, Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) and Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) fundamentally disagreed on central issues in politics, history and philosophy. In spite of their overlapping lives and experiences as Jewish émigré intellectuals, Berlin disliked Arendt intensely, saying that she represented "everything that I detest most," while Arendt met Berlin's hostility with indifference and suspicion. Written in a lively style, and filled with drama, tragedy and passion, Hannah Arendt and Isaiah Berlin tells, for the first time, the full story of the fraught relationship between these towering figures, and shows how their profoundly different views continue to offer important lessons for political thought today. Drawing on a wealth of new archival material, Kei Hiruta's Hannah Arendt and Isaiah Berlin: Freedom, Politics and Humanity (Princeton University Press, 2021) traces the Arendt-Berlin conflict, from their first meeting in wartime New York through their widening intellectual chasm during the 1950s, the controversy over Arendt's 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem, their final missed opportunity to engage with each other at a 1967 conference and Berlin's continuing animosity toward Arendt after her death. Hiruta blends political philosophy and intellectual history to examine key issues that simultaneously connected and divided Arendt and Berlin, including the nature of totalitarianism, evil and the Holocaust, human agency and moral responsibility, Zionism, American democracy, British imperialism and the Hungarian Revolution. But, most of all, Arendt and Berlin disagreed over a question that goes to the heart of the human condition: what does it mean to be free? Kei Hiruta is Assistant Professor and AIAS-COFUND Fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark."]

Hyman, Clarissa. "Tomato: A Global History (Reaktion Books, 2021." New Books in Food (December 24, 2021) ["In the history of food, the tomato is a relative newcomer but it would now be impossible to imagine the food cultures of many nations without them. The journey taken by the tomato from its ancestral home in the southern Americas to Europe and back is a riveting story full of discovery, innovation, drama and dispute. Today it is at the forefront of scientific advances and heritage conservation, but the tomato has faced challenges every step of the way into our gardens and kitchens including the eternal question: is it a fruit or a vegetable? In Tomato: A Global History Clarissa Hyman charts the eventful history of this ubiquitous everyday item that is often taken for granted. Hyman discusses tomato soup and ketchup, heritage tomatoes, tomato varieties, breeding and genetics, nutrition, tomatoes in Italy, tomatoes in art, and tomatoes for the future. Featuring delicious modern and historical recipes, such as the infamous ‘man-winning tomato salad’, this is a juicy and informative history of one of our most beloved foods. Tomato is part of the Edible Series published by Reaktion Books. It is a revolutionary series of books on food and drink which explores the rich history of man’s consumption. Each book provides an outline for one type of food or drink, revealing its history and culture on a global scale. 50 striking illustrations, with approximately 25 in colour, accompany these engaging and accessible texts, and offer intriguing new insights into their subject. Key recipes as well as reference material accompany each title. Also available through The University of Chicago Press."]

Joassart-Marcelli, Pasquale. "The Sixteen-Dollar Taco: Contested Geographies of Food, Ethnicity, and Gentrification (University of Washington Press, 2021." New Books in Geography (November 30, 2021) ["White middle-class eaters are increasingly venturing into historically segregated urban neighborhoods in search of "authentic" eating in restaurants run by-and originally catering to-immigrants and people of color. What does a growing white interest in these foods mean for historically immigrant neighborhoods and communities of color? What role does foodie culture play in gentrification? In The Sixteen-Dollar Taco: Contested Geographies of Food, Ethnicity, and Gentrification (U Washington Press, 2021), Pascale Joassart-Marcelli sheds light on food gentrification and the emotional, cultural, economic, and physical displacement it produces. She explores three neighborhoods of San Diego, California where "authentic" ethnic food attracts growing numbers of affluent white consumers, while the black and brown people who make this food continue to struggle with economic insecurity and food apartheid. Drawing on rich interviews with the locals who work, live, cook, and eat in these contested landscapes, Joassart-Marcelli maps the shift of foodscapes from serving the needs of long-time minoritized residents to pleasing the tastes of younger, wealthier, and whiter newcomers. She also shows how food becomes a powerful force behind gastrodevelopment, an urban development strategy built around food gentrification. Joassart-Marcelli highlights the ways in which immigrants and people of color are resisting gentrification and simultaneously fighting for food sovereignty. Ultimately, the work offers valuable lessons for cities all over the country where food projects are transforming neighborhoods at the expense of the communities they claim to uplift and celebrate. The book reveals the negative consequences of foodies' contemporary love affair with ethnic and presumably authentic food on the urban neighborhoods where such food has long been a source of livelihood, sustenance, resistance, and belonging. Doing so, it engages critically with the concept of cosmopolitanism and points out the limitations of consumer-centered food-based cross-cultural encounters that celebrate racial and ethnic difference without acknowledging the material consequences of historical and ongoing exclusion, dispossession, and displacement."]

Keetley, Dawn, ed. Jordan Peele's Get Out: Political Horror. Ohio State University Press, 2020. ["Essays explore Get Out's cultural roots, including Shakespeare's Othello, the female gothic, Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives, and the zombie, rural, suburban, and body-swap subgenres of the modern horror film. Essays make connections with Nat Turner, W.E.B. Du Bois, and James Baldwin"]

Kelly, Kim. "Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor (Atria, 2022)." New Books on Human Rights (April 27, 2022) ["American fieldworkers rejecting government-sanctioned indentured servitude across the Pacific. Incarcerated workers advocating for basic human rights and fair wages. The queer Black labor leader who helped orchestrate America’s civil rights movement. These are only some of the working-class heroes who propelled American labor’s relentless push for fairness and equal protection under the law. The names and faces of countless leaders have been sidelined in retelling stories of labour history: in particular, those of women, people of color, LGBTQIA people, disabled people, sex workers, prisoners, and the poor. In this definitive and assiduously researched work of journalism, Teen Vogue columnists and independent labor reporter Kim Kelly excavates that untold history and shows how the rights the American worker has today—the forty-hour workweek, workplace-safety standards, restrictions on child labor, protection from harassment and discrimination on the job—were earned with literal blood, sweat, and tears. Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor (Atria, 2022)—which would be of great interest to those interested in public history, following news of ongoing unionization efforts across the US, or seeking to better understand the intersections between gender, race, class, and labour—combines an optimism for the future alongside a clear-eyed assessment of the past and present."]

Koganzon, Rita. "Liberal States, Authoritarian Families: Childhood and Education in Early Modern Thought (Oxford University Press, 2021)." New Books in Political Science (February 3, 2022) ["Rita Koganzon’s new book, Liberal States, Authoritarian Families: Childhood and Education in Early Modern Thought (Oxford UP, 2021), examines the structure and function of the family within early modern political thought while also teasing out the way that early childhood education may often be at odds with the claims to freedom within liberal states. Koganzon’s book traces the problem of authority in early modern thought in regard to how children need to be managed by those who are responsible for them—and how they are to be taught to be citizens, to be free, to have liberty, and to understand sovereignty. All of these teachings are complicated by the need to impose an authority of knowledge and expertise in the course of a child’s education. When these forms of authority are contextualized within liberal states, the tension is obvious between the idea of individual liberty and freedom, as pursued by adults in society, and the need to educate through this position of the authority of knowledge. Koganzon’s work traces the approach and theorizing about the family and education through the work of Jean Bodin, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau. But the book starts with Hannah Arendt’s insight about education being an “inherently authoritarian undertaking” and that this is the conundrum for contemporary liberal thinkers. The first sections of the book examine the rise of sovereignty theory, especially in the work of Bodin and Hobbes. This work also brings up the logic of congruence, that the sovereign and the patriarch should be mirrors of each other in terms of their rule within their distinct realms. The thrust of the book, though, is in the exploration of the work by Locke and Rousseau, and their critiques of the sovereignty theory put forward by those who preceded them. Koganzon examines how both Locke’s work and Rousseau’s work also push against the logic of congruence in terms of the form of education. Liberal States, Authoritarian Families delves into the problem, particularly for Locke and Rousseau, of the tyranny of public opinion (the problem of peer pressure is real!), and how anti-authoritarian liberalism, particularly in the contemporary period, has done away with many of the components of authoritarianism within education that helped to limit this tyranny. This is a very clear and lively discussion and will be of interest to a wide range of readers and scholars."]

Koonin, Steven E. "Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters." Joe Rogan Experience (February 11, 2022) ["Steven E. Koonin is a theoretical physicist, professor, former Chief Scientist for the BP petroleum company, and former Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy under the Obama administration. He's also the author of Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters."]

Latour, Bruno. Facing Gaia: Eight Lecture on the New Climatic Regime. Polity Press, 2017. ["The emergence of modern sciences in the seventeenth century profoundly renewed our understanding of nature. For the last three centuries new ideas of nature have been continually developed by theology, politics, economics, and science, especially the sciences of the material world. The situation is even more unstable today, now that we have entered an ecological mutation of unprecedented scale. Some call it the Anthropocene, but it is best described as a new climatic regime. And a new regime it certainly is, since the many unexpected connections between human activity and the natural world oblige every one of us to reopen the earlier notions of nature and redistribute what had been packed inside. So the question now arises: what will replace the old ways of looking at nature? This book explores a potential candidate proposed by James Lovelock when he chose the name 'Gaia' for the fragile, complex system through which living phenomena modify the Earth. The fact that he was immediately misunderstood proves simply that his readers have tried to fit this new notion into an older frame, transforming Gaia into a single organism, a kind of giant thermostat, some sort of New Age goddess, or even divine Providence. In this series of lectures on 'natural religion,' Bruno Latour argues that the complex and ambiguous figure of Gaia offers, on the contrary, an ideal way to disentangle the ethical, political, theological, and scientific aspects of the now obsolete notion of nature. He lays the groundwork for a future collaboration among scientists, theologians, activists, and artists as they, and we, begin to adjust to the new climatic regime."]

Levin, Yuval. "Why No One Trusts Anything." Honestly (March 18, 2022) ["What if I told you that all the brokenness in our society—from the increased rates in suicide and addiction to the decreased rates in marriage and sex to the crisis of faith in everything from the CDC to political leaders to our democratic elections—weren’t a series of separate catastrophes but symptoms of one underlying condition? That’s the argument of my guest today, Yuval Levin. Yuval is a journalist and academic. He has served as a congressional staffer and as a domestic policy staff member under President George W Bush, he’s the author of several books including The Fractured Republic and A Time to Build."]

Levy, Jonathan. Ages of American Capitalism: A History of the United States. Penguin, 2022. ["In this ambitious single-volume history of the United States, economic historian Jonathan Levy reveals how capitalism in America has evolved through four distinct ages and how the country’s economic evolution is inseparable from the nature of American life itself. The Age of Commerce spans the colonial era through the outbreak of the Civil War, and the Age of Capital traces the lasting impact of the industrial revolution. The volatility of the Age of Capital ultimately led to the Great Depression, which sparked the Age of Control, during which the government took on a more active role in the economy, and finally, in the Age of Chaos, deregulation and the growth of the finance industry created a booming economy for some but also striking inequalities and a lack of oversight that led directly to the crash of 2008."]

Like Stories of Old. "Don’t Look Up – A Problematic Metaphor For Climate Change?" (Posted on Youtube: January 26, 2022) [A video essay on Adam McKay’s film Don’t Look Up, includes discussion of the earlier films The Big Short and Vice, and a discussion of his innovative cinematic language.  Book & article sources: Bruno Latour - Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime; Timothy Morton - Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World; Ulrich Beck - Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity; Ulrich Beck - The Metamorphosis of the World: How Climate Change is Transforming Our Concept of the World.] Book & article sources: Bruno Latour - Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime; Timothy Morton - Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World; Ulrich Beck - Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity; Ulrich Beck - The Metamorphosis of the World: How Climate Change is Transforming Our Concept of the World.]

Loewen, James. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. The New Press, 2018. ["What started out as a survey of the twelve leading American history textbooks has ended up being what the San Francisco Chronicle calls “an extremely convincing plea for truth in education.” In Lies My Teacher Told Me, James W. Loewen brings history alive in all its complexity and ambiguity. Beginning with pre-Columbian history and ranging over characters and events as diverse as Reconstruction, Helen Keller, the first Thanksgiving, the My Lai massacre, 9/11, and the Iraq War, Loewen offers an eye-opening critique of existing textbooks, and a wonderful retelling of American history as it should—and could—be taught to American students."]

Luckhurst, Roger. "Making Sense of The Weird and the Eerie." Los Angeles Review of Books (November 11, 2017) [On Mark Fisher's book The Weird and the Eerie: "What exactly are the Weird and the Eerie? In this new essay, Mark Fisher argues that some of the most haunting and anomalous fiction of the 20th century belongs to these two modes. The Weird and the Eerie are closely related but distinct modes, each possessing its own distinct properties. Both have often been associated with Horror, yet this emphasis overlooks the aching fascination that such texts can exercise. The Weird and the Eerie both fundamentally concern the outside and the unknown, which are not intrinsically horrifying, even if they are always unsettling.
Perhaps a proper understanding of the human condition requires examination of liminal concepts such as the weird and the eerie. These two modes will be analysed with reference to the work of authors such as H. P. Lovecraft, H. G. Wells, M.R. James, Christopher Priest, Joan Lindsay, Nigel Kneale, Daphne Du Maurier, Alan Garner and Margaret Atwood, and films by Stanley Kubrick, Jonathan Glazer and Christoper Nolan."]

Maibom, Heidi. "Through the Eyes of Another." Aeon (July 12, 2022) ["It’s impossible to shed our individual biases. So the best way to establish objectivity is by taking on new perspectives." Heidi Maibom is the author of The Space Between: How Empathy Really Works: "When Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court, his comments that a judge should have "the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay, disabled, or old" caused a furor. Objective, reasoned, and impartial judgment were to be replaced by partiality, sentiment, and bias, critics feared. This concern about empathy has since been voiced not just by conservative critics, but by academics and public figures. In The Space Between, Heidi Maibom combines results from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to argue that rather than making us more biased or partial, empathy makes us more impartial and more objective. The problem is that we don't see the world objectively in the first place, Maibom explains. We see it in terms of how we are placed in it: as an extension of our interests, capabilities, and relationships. This is a perspective and it determines what we pay attention to, how we interpret events, and what matters to us individually. It is not private, however. By means of the imagination, Maibom contends, we can place ourselves in another person's web interests, capabilities, and relationships and, viewing the world from there, experience a new way of interpreting and valuing what happens. This broadens and deepens our understanding of others and the world around us. It also helps us understand the greater reality of who we are ourselves. Maibom's book weaves together results from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to provide a positive up-to-date view of what it really means to take another person's perspective, and how empathy, rather than being the enemy of objectivity, is the foundation of it."]

Marable, Manning. Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. Viking, 2011. ["Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist. Of the great figures in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world. Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties. Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew."]

May, Katherine and Michael Pollan. "The Future of Hope 4." On Being (January 20, 2022) ["Michael Pollan is one of our most revelatory explorers of the interaction between the human and natural worlds — especially the plants with which we have, as he says, co-evolved — from food to caffeine to psychedelics. In this episode of our series, The Future of Hope, Wintering’s Katherine May draws him out on the burgeoning human inquiry and science to which he’s now given himself over — the transformative applications of altered states for healing trauma and depression, for end-of-life care — and the thrilling matter of grasping what consciousness is for. This is an informative, intriguing, utterly uncategorizable conversation." Michael Pollan's recent books: How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence and This is Your Mind on Plants]

McBride, Joseph. The Whole Durn Human Comedy: Life According to the Coen Brothers. Anthem Press, 2022. ["A groundbreaking, incisive critical study of the Coen Bros., the quirky team of filmmaking brothers who delight in unsettling cinematic conventions and confounding audiences while raising disturbing questions about human nature."]

Mchangama, Jacob. "The History of Free Speech." Conversations with Coleman (April 16, 2022) ["My guest today is Jacob Mchangama. Jacob is a lawyer and writer based in Denmark. He's the founder of Justitia, a think tank focused on human rights and freedom of speech. Jacob is also the producer and narrator of the excellent podcast called Clear and Present Danger. Jacob and I discuss his brilliant new book: Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media. We talk about the Danish cartoon controversy and Charlie Hebdo. We also discuss the so-called "Milton's curse"; which is the habit of hypocritically defending free speech for some, but not for others. I think this point is relevant to some of the bans that we've been seeing on Russian state news. We talk about the notion of power relations and its relationship to free speech, the relationship between censorship and human nature, and the importance of having a culture of free speech in addition to having laws that nominally protect it. We also talk about the origins of what Jacob calls "egalitarian free speech" in ancient Athens, the First Amendment and its evolving interpretation over time, and the alleged exceptions to protected speech such as hate speech or shouting fire in a crowded theatre. We go on to discuss whether censorship actually works, big tech companies and their role in censoring speech, similarities between the rise of the printing press and the rise of the Internet, cancel culture, the threat to free speech posed by China and the CCP, and much more."]

McSwane, David. "Pandemic, Inc.: On Chasing Capitalists & Thieves Who Got Rich While We Got Sick." Democracy Now (April 12, 2022) ["In Pandemic, Inc.: Chasing the Capitalists and Thieves Who Got Rich While We Got Sick, ProPublica investigative reporter J. David McSwane tracks pandemic federal relief funds and finds many contracts to acquire critical supplies were wrapped up in unprecedented fraud schemes that left the U.S. government with subpar and unusable equipment. He says an array of contractors were “trying to take advantage of our national emergency,” and calls the book “a blueprint of what not to do” during the next pandemic."]

Meis, Morgan and J.M. Tyree. Wonder, Horror, Mystery: Letters on Cinema and Religion in Malick, Von Trier, and Kieślowski. Punctum Books, 2021. ["Wonder, Horror, Mystery is a dialogue between two friends, both notable arts critics, that takes the form of a series of letters about movies and religion. One of the friends, J.M. Tyree, is a film critic, creative writer, and agnostic, while the other, Morgan Meis, is a philosophy PhD, art critic, and practicing Catholic. The question of cinema is raised here in a spirit of friendly friction that binds the personal with the critical and the spiritual. What is film? What’s it for? What does it do? Why do we so intensely love or hate films that dare to broach the subjects of the divine and the diabolical? These questions stimulate further thoughts about life, meaning, philosophy, absurdity, friendship, tragedy, humor, death, and God. The letters focus on three filmmakers who challenged secular assumptions in the late 20th century and early 21st century through various modes of cinematic re-enchantment: Terrence Malick, Lars von Trier, and Krzysztof Kieślowski. The book works backwards in time, giving intensive analysis to Malick’s To The Wonder (2012), Von Trier’s Antichrist (2009), and Kieślowski’s Dekalog (1988), respectively, in each of the book’s three sections. Meis and Tyree discuss the filmmakers and films as well as related ideas about philosophy, theology, and film theory in an accessible but illuminating way. The discussion ranges from the shamelessly intellectual to the embarrassingly personal. Spoiler alert: No conclusions are reached either about God or the movies. Nonetheless, it is a fun ride."]

Melzer, Nils. The Trial of Julian Assange: A Story of Persecution. Verso, 2022. ["The shocking story of the legal persecution of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and the dangerous implications for the whistleblowers of the future. In July 2010, Wikileaks published Cablegate, one of the biggest leaks in the history of the US military, including evidence for war crimes and torture. In the aftermath Julian Assange, the founder and spokesman of Wikileaks, found himself at the center of a media storm, accused of hacking and later sexual assault. He spent the next seven years in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, fearful that he would be extradited to Sweden to face the accusations of assault and then sent to US. In 2019, Assange was handed over to the British police and, on the same day, the U.S. demanded his extradition. They threatened him with up to 175 years in prison for alleged espionage and computer fraud. At this point, Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, started his investigation into how the US and UK governments were working together to ensure a conviction. His findings are explosive, revealing that Assange has faced grave and systematic due process violations, judicial bias, collusion and manipulated evidence. He has been the victim of constant surveillance, defamation and threats. Melzer also gathered together consolidated medical evidence that proves that Assange has suffered prolonged psychological torture. Melzer’s compelling investigation puts the UK and US state into the dock, showing how, through secrecy, impunity and, crucially, public indifference, unchecked power reveals a deeply undemocratic system. Furthermore, the Assange case sets a dangerous precedent: once telling the truth becomes a crime, censorship and tyranny will inevitably follow. The Trial of Julian Assange is told in three parts: the first explores Nils Melzer’s own story about how he became involved in the case and why Assange’s case falls under his mandate as the Special Rapporteur on Torture. The second section returns to 2010 when Wikileaks released the largest leak in the history of the U.S. military, exposing war crimes and corruption, and Nils makes the case that Swedish authorities manipulated charges against Assange to force his extradition to the US and publicly discredit him. In the third section, the author returns to 2019 and picks up the case as Ecuador kicks Assange out of the embassy and lays out the case as it currently stands, as well as the stakes involved for other potential whistleblowers trying to serve the public interest."]

Montell, Amanda. Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism. Harper Collins, 2021. ["The author of the widely praised Wordslut analyzes the social science of cult influence: how cultish groups from Jonestown and Scientology to SoulCycle and social media gurus use language as the ultimate form of power. What makes “cults” so intriguing and frightening? What makes them powerful? The reason why so many of us binge Manson documentaries by the dozen and fall down rabbit holes researching suburban moms gone QAnon is because we’re looking for a satisfying explanation for what causes people to join—and more importantly, stay in—extreme groups. We secretly want to know: could it happen to me? Amanda Montell’s argument is that, on some level, it already has . . . Our culture tends to provide pretty flimsy answers to questions of cult influence, mostly having to do with vague talk of “brainwashing.” But the true answer has nothing to do with freaky mind-control wizardry or Kool-Aid. In Cultish, Montell argues that the key to manufacturing intense ideology, community, and us/them attitudes all comes down to language. In both positive ways and shadowy ones, cultish language is something we hear—and are influenced by—every single day. Through juicy storytelling and cutting original research, Montell exposes the verbal elements that make a wide spectrum of communities “cultish,” revealing how they affect followers of groups as notorious as Heaven’s Gate, but also how they pervade our modern start-ups, Peloton leaderboards, and Instagram feeds. Incisive and darkly funny, this enrapturing take on the curious social science of power and belief will make you hear the fanatical language of “cultish” everywhere."]

Morson, Gary Saul. "The Cancellation of Russian Culture." First Things (March 14, 2022)  ["To blame a whole culture, past and present, for a current political action implies that everything about that culture contributed to that action. If Germany succumbed to the Nazis, don’t listen to Beethoven; because of Mussolini, cancel Dante and Raphael; if you reject American actions in Vietnam, the Middle East, or anywhere else, no more Thoreau or Emily Dickinson. Could there be a better way to encourage national hatred than to treat a whole culture and its history as a unified whole, carrying, as if genetically, a hideous quality?" Morson is the co-author of Minds Wide Shut: How the New Fundamentalisms Divide Us.]

Morson, Gary Saul and Morton Schapiro.  Minds Wide Shut: How the New Fundamentalisms Divide Us. Princeton University Press, 2021. ["Polarization may be pushing democracy to the breaking point. But few have explored the larger, interconnected forces that have set the stage for this crisis: namely, a rise in styles of thought, across a range of fields, that literary scholar Gary Saul Morson and economist Morton Schapiro call “fundamentalist.” In Minds Wide Shut, Morson and Schapiro examine how rigid adherence to ideological thinking has altered politics, economics, religion, and literature in ways that are mutually reinforcing and antithetical to the open-mindedness and readiness to compromise that animate democracy. In response, they propose alternatives that would again make serious dialogue possible. Fundamentalist thinking, Morson and Schapiro argue, is not limited to any one camp. It flourishes across the political spectrum, giving rise to dueling monologues of shouting and abuse between those who are certain that they can’t be wrong, that truth and justice are all on their side, and that there is nothing to learn from their opponents, who must be evil or deluded. But things don’t have to be this way. Drawing on thinkers and writers from across the humanities and social sciences, Morson and Schapiro show how we might begin to return to meaningful dialogue through case-based reasoning, objective analyses, lessons drawn from literature, and more. The result is a powerful invitation to leave behind simplification, rigidity, and extremism—and to move toward a future of greater open-mindedness, moderation, and, perhaps, even wisdom." Link to a conversation with the authors about the book.]

Nace, Ted. Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2005. ["The corporation has become the core institution of the modern world. Designed to seek profit and power, it has pursued both with endless tenacity, steadily bending the framework of law and even challenging the sovereign status of the state. Where did the corporation come from? How did it get so much power? What is its ultimate trajectory? After he sold his successful computer book publishing business to a large corporation, Ted Nace felt increasingly driven to find answers to these questions. In Gangs of America he details the rise of corporate power in America through a series of fascinating stories, each organized around a different facet of the central question: “How did corporations get more rights than people?” Beginning with the origin of the corporation in medieval Great Britain, Nace traces both the events that shaped the evolution of corporate power and the colorful personalities who played major roles. Gangs of America is a uniquely accessible synthesis of the latest scholarly research, a compelling historical narrative, and a distinctive personal voice."]

Napier, Susan Jolliffe. "Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art (Yale University Press, 2018)." New Books in Art (February 8, 2022) ["A thirtieth‑century toxic jungle, a bathhouse for tired gods, a red‑haired fish girl, and a furry woodland spirit—what do these have in common? They all spring from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki, one of the greatest living animators, known worldwide for films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and The Wind Rises. In Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art (Yale UP, 2018), Japanese culture and animation scholar Susan Napier explores the life and art of this extraordinary Japanese filmmaker to provide a definitive account of his oeuvre. Napier insightfully illuminates the multiple themes crisscrossing his work, from empowered women to environmental nightmares to utopian dreams, creating an unforgettable portrait of a man whose art challenged Hollywood dominance and ushered in a new chapter of global popular culture."]

Osterholm, Michael. "Update: COVID-19." Joe Rogan Experience #1779 (February 13, 2022) ["Dr. Michael Osterholm is an expert in infectious disease epidemiology, professor, and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. He's also the host of "The Osterholm Update: COVID-19" podcast, and author of multiple books, including "Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs."]

Perlroth, Nicole. "Cybersecurity and the Weapons of Cyberwar." Lex Fridman Podcast #266 (February 20, 2022) [Nicole Pelroth is the author of This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race: "Zero day: a software bug that allows a hacker to break into your devices and move around undetected. One of the most coveted tools in a spy's arsenal, a zero day has the power to silently spy on your iPhone, dismantle the safety controls at a chemical plant, alter an election, and shut down the electric grid (just ask Ukraine). For decades, under cover of classification levels and non-disclosure agreements, the United States government became the world's dominant hoarder of zero days. U.S. government agents paid top dollar-first thousands, and later millions of dollars- to hackers willing to sell their lock-picking code and their silence. Then the United States lost control of its hoard and the market. Now those zero days are in the hands of hostile nations and mercenaries who do not care if your vote goes missing, your clean water is contaminated, or our nuclear plants melt down. Filled with spies, hackers, arms dealers, and a few unsung heroes, written like a thriller and a reference, This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends is an astonishing feat of journalism. Based on years of reporting and hundreds of interviews, The New York Times reporter Nicole Perlroth lifts the curtain on a market in shadow, revealing the urgent threat faced by us all if we cannot bring the global cyber arms race to heel."]

Pikkety, Thomas. A Brief History of Equality. Harvard University Press, 2022. ["The world’s leading economist of inequality presents a short but sweeping and surprisingly optimistic history of human progress toward equality despite crises, disasters, and backsliding. A perfect introduction to the ideas developed in his monumental earlier books. It’s easy to be pessimistic about inequality. We know it has increased dramatically in many parts of the world over the past two generations. No one has done more to reveal the problem than Thomas Piketty. Now, in this surprising and powerful new work, Piketty reminds us that the grand sweep of history gives us reasons to be optimistic. Over the centuries, he shows, we have been moving toward greater equality. Piketty guides us with elegance and concision through the great movements that have made the modern world for better and worse: the growth of capitalism, revolutions, imperialism, slavery, wars, and the building of the welfare state. It’s a history of violence and social struggle, punctuated by regression and disaster. But through it all, Piketty shows, human societies have moved fitfully toward a more just distribution of income and assets, a reduction of racial and gender inequalities, and greater access to health care, education, and the rights of citizenship. Our rough march forward is political and ideological, an endless fight against injustice. To keep moving, Piketty argues, we need to learn and commit to what works, to institutional, legal, social, fiscal, and educational systems that can make equality a lasting reality. At the same time, we need to resist historical amnesia and the temptations of cultural separatism and intellectual compartmentalization. At stake is the quality of life for billions of people. We know we can do better, Piketty concludes. The past shows us how. The future is up to us."]

---. Capital and Ideology. Harvard University Press, 2020. ["The epic successor to one of the most important books of the century: at once a retelling of global history, a scathing critique of contemporary politics, and a bold proposal for a new and fairer economic system. Thomas Piketty’s bestselling Capital in the Twenty-First Century galvanized global debate about inequality. In this audacious follow-up, Piketty challenges us to revolutionize how we think about politics, ideology, and history. He exposes the ideas that have sustained inequality for the past millennium, reveals why the shallow politics of right and left are failing us today, and outlines the structure of a fairer economic system. Our economy, Piketty observes, is not a natural fact. Markets, profits, and capital are all historical constructs that depend on choices. Piketty explores the material and ideological interactions of conflicting social groups that have given us slavery, serfdom, colonialism, communism, and hypercapitalism, shaping the lives of billions. He concludes that the great driver of human progress over the centuries has been the struggle for equality and education and not, as often argued, the assertion of property rights or the pursuit of stability. The new era of extreme inequality that has derailed that progress since the 1980s, he shows, is partly a reaction against communism, but it is also the fruit of ignorance, intellectual specialization, and our drift toward the dead-end politics of identity.
Once we understand this, we can begin to envision a more balanced approach to economics and politics. Piketty argues for a new “participatory” socialism, a system founded on an ideology of equality, social property, education, and the sharing of knowledge and power. Capital and Ideology is destined to be one of the indispensable books of our time, a work that will not only help us understand the world, but that will change it."]

---. "Five Reasons Why You Should Read Thomas Piketty’s A Brief History of Equality." Harvard University Press Blog (March 8, 2022) [Book description: "The world’s leading economist of inequality presents a short but sweeping and surprisingly optimistic history of human progress toward equality despite crises, disasters, and backsliding. A perfect introduction to the ideas developed in his monumental earlier books. It’s easy to be pessimistic about inequality. We know it has increased dramatically in many parts of the world over the past two generations. No one has done more to reveal the problem than Thomas Piketty. Now, in this surprising and powerful new work, Piketty reminds us that the grand sweep of history gives us reasons to be optimistic. Over the centuries, he shows, we have been moving toward greater equality. Piketty guides us with elegance and concision through the great movements that have made the modern world for better and worse: the growth of capitalism, revolutions, imperialism, slavery, wars, and the building of the welfare state. It’s a history of violence and social struggle, punctuated by regression and disaster. But through it all, Piketty shows, human societies have moved fitfully toward a more just distribution of income and assets, a reduction of racial and gender inequalities, and greater access to health care, education, and the rights of citizenship. Our rough march forward is political and ideological, an endless fight against injustice. To keep moving, Piketty argues, we need to learn and commit to what works, to institutional, legal, social, fiscal, and educational systems that can make equality a lasting reality. At the same time, we need to resist historical amnesia and the temptations of cultural separatism and intellectual compartmentalization. At stake is the quality of life for billions of people. We know we can do better, Piketty concludes. The past shows us how. The future is up to us."]

Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma. The Penguin Press, 2006. ["Today, buffeted by one food fad after another, America is suffering from what can only be described as a national eating disorder. Will it be fast food tonight, or something organic? Or perhaps something we grew ourselves? The question of what to have for dinner has confronted us since man discovered fire. But as Michael Pollan explains in this revolutionary book, how we answer it now, as the dawn of the twenty-first century, may determine our survival as a species. Packed with profound surprises, The Omnivore's Dilemma is changing the way Americans think about the politics, perils, and pleasures of eating."]

Power, Nina. "What Do Men Want?: Masculinity and Its Discontents (Penguin 2022)." New Books in Critical Theory (February 14, 2022) ["Something is definitely up with men. From millions online who engage with the manosphere to the #metoo backlash, from Men's Rights activists and incels to spiralling suicide rates, it's easy to see that, while men still rule the world, masculinity is in crisis. Feminism has gone some way towards dismantling the patriarchy, but how can we hold on to the best aspects of our metaphorical Father? Nina Power, author of What Do Men Want?: Masculinity and Its Discontents (Penguin, 2022), speaks to Pierre d'Alancaisez about the challenge of accepting biological differences and the potential for men and women living well in a world where capitalism has replaced the values - family, religion, service, and honour - that used to give our lives meaning. Nina Power is a philosopher, critic, and cultural theorist. She is the author of One Dimensional Woman, a co-host of The Lack, and she publishes a newsletter on Substack."]

Praeger, Joshua. "The Family Roe: An American Story (W.W. Norton, 2021)." New Books in American Studies (June 20, 2022) ["Despite her famous pseudonym, "Jane Roe," no one knows the truth about Norma McCorvey (1947-2017), whose unwanted pregnancy in 1969 opened a great fracture in American life. Journalist Joshua Prager spent hundreds of hours with Norma, discovered her personal papers--a previously unseen trove--and witnessed her final moments. The Family Roe: An American Story (W. W. Norton, 2021) presents her life in full. Propelled by the crosscurrents of sex and religion, gender and class, it is a life that tells the story of abortion in America. Prager begins that story on the banks of Louisiana's Atchafalaya River where Norma was born, and where unplanned pregnancies upended generations of her forebears. A pregnancy then upended Norma's life too, and the Dallas waitress became Jane Roe. Drawing on a decade of research, Prager reveals the woman behind the pseudonym, writing in novelistic detail of her unknown life from her time as a sex worker in Dallas, to her private thoughts on family and abortion, to her dealings with feminist and Christian leaders, to the three daughters she placed for adoption. Prager found those women, including the youngest--Baby Roe--now fifty years old. She shares her story in The Family Roe for the first time, from her tortured interactions with her birth mother, to her emotional first meeting with her sisters, to the burden that was uniquely hers from conception. The Family Roe abounds in such revelations--not only about Norma and her children but about the broader "family" connected to the case. Prager tells the stories of activists and bystanders alike whose lives intertwined with Roe. In particular, he introduces three figures as important as they are unknown: feminist lawyer Linda Coffee, who filed the original Texas lawsuit yet now lives in obscurity; Curtis Boyd, a former fundamentalist Christian, today a leading provider of third-trimester abortions; and Mildred Jefferson, the first black female Harvard Medical School graduate, who became a pro-life leader with great secrets. An epic work spanning fifty years of American history, The Family Roe will change the way you think about our enduring American divide: the right to choose or the right to life."]

Prasad, Vinay. "The Cult of Masked Schoolchildren." Tablet (January 19, 2022) ["History will not look kindly on our evidence-free decision to make kids suffer most." Vinay Prasad is a hematologist-oncologist, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of Malignant: How Bad Policy and Bad Evidence Harm People with Cancer.]

Proctor, Robert N. and Londa Schiebinger, eds. Agnotology: The Making & Unmaking of Ignorance. Stanford University Press, 2008. ["What don't we know, and why don't we know it? What keeps ignorance alive, or allows it to be used as a political instrument? Agnotology—the study of ignorance—provides a new theoretical perspective to broaden traditional questions about "how we know" to ask: Why don't we know what we don't know? The essays assembled in Agnotology show that ignorance is often more than just an absence of knowledge; it can also be the outcome of cultural and political struggles. Ignorance has a history and a political geography, but there are also things people don't want you to know ("Doubt is our product" is the tobacco industry slogan). Individual chapters treat examples from the realms of global climate change, military secrecy, female orgasm, environmental denialism, Native American paleontology, theoretical archaeology, racial ignorance, and more. The goal of this volume is to better understand how and why various forms of knowing do not come to be, or have disappeared, or have become invisible."]

Reed, Adolph L. The South: Jim Crow and Its Afterlives. Verso, 2022. ["A narrative account of Jim Crow as people experienced it. The last generation of Americans with a living memory of Jim Crow will soon disappear. They leave behind a collective memory of segregation shaped increasingly by its horrors and heroic defeat but not a nuanced understanding of everyday life in Jim Crow America. In The South, Adolph L. Reed Jr. — New Orleanian, political scientist, and according to Cornel West, “the greatest democratic theorist of his generation” — takes up the urgent task of recounting the granular realities of life in the last decades of the Jim Crow South. Reed illuminates the multifaceted structures of the segregationist order. Through his personal history and political acumen, we see America’s apartheid system from the ground up, not just its legal framework or systems of power, but the way these systems structured the day-to-day interactions, lives, and ambitions of ordinary working people. The South unravels the personal and political dimensions of the Jim Crow order, revealing the sources and objectives of this unstable regime, its contradictions and precarity, and the social order that would replace it. The South is more than a memoir or a history. Filled with analysis and fascinating firsthand accounts of the operation of the system that codified and enshrined racial inequality, this book is required reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of America’s second peculiar institution the future created in its wake."]

Rein, Richard K. "American Urbanist: How William H. Whyte's Unconventional Wisdom Reshaped Public Life (Island Press 2022)." New Books Network (April 1, 2022) ["On an otherwise normal weekday in the 1980s, commuters on busy Route 1 in central New Jersey noticed an alarming sight: a man in a suit and tie dashing across four lanes of traffic, then scurrying through a narrow underpass as cars whizzed by within inches. The man was William “Holly” Whyte, a pioneer of people-centered urban design. Decades before this perilous trek to a meeting in the suburbs, he had urged planners to look beyond their desks and drawings: “You have to get out and walk.” American Urbanist: How William H. Whyte's Unconventional Wisdom Reshaped Public Life (Island Press, 2022) shares the life and wisdom of a man whose advocacy reshaped many of the places we know and love today—from New York’s bustling Bryant Park to preserved forests and farmlands around the country. Holly’s experiences as a WWII intelligence officer and leader of the genre-defining reporters at Fortune Magazine in the 1950s shaped his razor-sharp assessments of how the world actually worked—not how it was assumed to work. His 1956 bestseller, The Organization Man, catapulted the dangers of “groupthink” and conformity into the national consciousness. Over his five decades of research and writing, Holly’s wide-ranging work changed how people thought about careers and companies, cities and suburbs, urban planning, open space preservation, and more. He was part of the rising environmental movement, helped spur change at the planning office of New York City, and narrated two films about urban life, in addition to writing six books. No matter the topic, Holly advocated for the decision-makers to be people, not just experts. “We need the kind of curiosity that blows the lid off everything,” Holly once said. His life offers encouragement to be thoughtful and bold in asking questions and in making space for differing viewpoints. This revealing biography offers a rare glimpse into the mind of an iconoclast whose healthy skepticism of the status quo can help guide our efforts to create the kinds of places we want to live in today."]

Rinsdberg, Ashley. "The Failures of the New York Times." Conversations with Coleman (March 18, 2022) ["Ashley is an American novelist and journalist now based in Israel. His book is The Gray Lady Winked: How the New York Times's Misreporting, Distortions and Fabrications Radically Alter History. We discuss the little-known history of major errors made by the New York Times. We also talk about the concept of authority, what makes the times different from other papers, the idea of objective truth, and the many problems with the 1619 project. We finally go on to speak about how to determine what's true in the world."]

Schambelan, Elizabeth. "Special Journey to Our Bottom Line: On Hazing and Counterinsurgency." N + 1 #34 (2022) ["Today, Fraternity Gang Rape remains an unsurpassed frat-guy ethnography. It’s also a truly shocking book, thanks to Penn’s very candid fraternity brothers, many of whom spoke at length to student interviewers trained by Sanday. In addition to calling the author’s raped student “an ignorant slut” and campus feminists “rug-munching dykes,” the guys say things like “no is meaningless” and “She was responsible for her condition, and that just leaves her wide open . . . so to speak.” Even more disturbing are those passages in which the men expound upon their worldview. “One of the few barriers left in this society is sexual barriers,” says one. “It’s cutting down [sic]. When you can strip somebody down, and get everything possible out of them, whether it’s sexual, sexual parts, sexual this and that, and just say, that’s where you are.” This has the ring of genuine sadism. Another interviewee defines a “nerdy” guy as someone who will not “allow any sexual needs to invade someone else’s rights.” My needs matter, your rights don’t: this, too, is a sentiment Sade would find relatable."]

Schauer, Frederick. The Proof: Uses of Evidence in Law, Politics, and Everything Else. Belknap Press, 2022. ["In a world awash in “fake news,” where public figures make unfounded assertions as a matter of course, a preeminent legal theorist ranges across the courtroom, the scientific laboratory, and the insights of philosophers to explore the nature of evidence and show how it is credibly established."]

Schwartzel, Erich. "Hollywood, China, and the Global Battle for Cultural Supremacy." The Realignment (February 8, 2022) ["Erich Schwartzel, film industry reporter at The Wall Street Journal and author of Red Carpet: Hollywood, China, and the Global Battle for Cultural Supremacy, joins The Realignment to discuss the rise, fall, and future of Hollywood’s relationship with China."]

Scott, James C. Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play. Princeton University Press, 2012. ["A spirited defense of the anarchist approach to life
James Scott taught us what's wrong with seeing like a state. Now, in his most accessible and personal book to date, the acclaimed social scientist makes the case for seeing like an anarchist. Inspired by the core anarchist faith in the possibilities of voluntary cooperation without hierarchy, Two Cheers for Anarchism is an engaging, high-spirited, and often very funny defense of an anarchist way of seeing—one that provides a unique and powerful perspective on everything from everyday social and political interactions to mass protests and revolutions. Through a wide-ranging series of memorable anecdotes and examples, the book describes an anarchist sensibility that celebrates the local knowledge, common sense, and creativity of ordinary people. The result is a kind of handbook on constructive anarchism that challenges us to radically reconsider the value of hierarchy in public and private life, from schools and workplaces to retirement homes and government itself. Beginning with what Scott calls "the law of anarchist calisthenics," an argument for law-breaking inspired by an East German pedestrian crossing, each chapter opens with a story that captures an essential anarchist truth. In the course of telling these stories, Scott touches on a wide variety of subjects: public disorder and riots, desertion, poaching, vernacular knowledge, assembly-line production, globalization, the petty bourgeoisie, school testing, playgrounds, and the practice of historical explanation. Far from a dogmatic manifesto, Two Cheers for Anarchism celebrates the anarchist confidence in the inventiveness and judgment of people who are free to exercise their creative and moral capacities."]

Sessa, Ben. The Psychedleic Renaissance: Reassessing the Role of Psychedelic Drugs in 21st Century Psychiatry and Society. Muswell Hill Press, 2012. ["Psychedelics were inextricably associated with the hippie counterculture of the 1960s and, more recently, with the rave music scene, and were once believed to hold great promise for treating a number of medical conditions as well as providing access to profound spiritual experiences. However, legal restrictions on the use of such drugs effectively forced them underground and brought clinical research to a halt--until recently. In this book, psychiatrist Dr. Ben Sessa makes a persuasive case for the reevaluation of psychedelics--LSD, MDMA ("ecstasy"), DMT, psilocybin, ayahuasca, peyote ibogaine, and more--as he explores their clinical potential for treating a range of conditions from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression to autism and cluster headaches. Based on a thorough review of the evidence, Sessa corrects some common misconceptions about psychedelics and makes a clarion call for their responsible therapeutic use, with appropriate set and setting, in psychotherapy, psychiatry, and personal growth."]

Sinnerbrink, Robert. Terence Malick: Filmmaker and Philosopher. Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. ["Many critics have approached Terrence Malick's work from a philosophical perspective, arguing that his films express philosophy through cinema. With their remarkable images of nature, poetic voiceovers, and meditative reflections, Malick's cinema certainly invites philosophical engagement. In Terrence Malick: Filmmaker and Philosopher, Robert Sinnerbrink takes a different approach, exploring Malick's work as a case of cinematic ethics: films that evoke varieties of ethical experience, encompassing existential, metaphysical, and religious perspectives. Malick's films are not reducible to a particular moral position or philosophical doctrine; rather, they solicit ethically significant forms of experience, encompassing anxiety and doubt, wonder and awe, to questioning and acknowledgment, through aesthetic engagement and poetic reflection. Drawing on a range of thinkers and approaches from Heidegger and Cavell, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, to phenomenology and moral psychology Sinnerbrink explores how Malick's films respond to the problem of nihilism the loss of conviction or belief in prevailing forms of value and meaning and the possibility of ethical transformation through cinema: from self-transformation in our relations with others to cultural transformation via our attitudes towards towards nature and the world. Sinnerbrink shows how Malick's later films, from The Tree of Life to Voyage of Time, provide unique opportunities to explore cinematic ethics in relation to the crisis of belief, the phenomenology of love, and film's potential to invite moral transformation."]

Sites, William. "Sun Ra's Chicago: Afrofuturism and the City (U Chicago Press, 2021)." New Books in Music (February 24, 2022) ["Poet and jazz band musician Sun Ra, born in 1914, is one of the most wildly prolific and unfailingly eccentric figures in the history of music. Renowned for extravagant performances in which his band “Arkestra” appeared in neo-Egyptian garb, this keyboardist and bandleader also espoused an interstellar cosmology and that the planet Saturn was his true home. In his book, Sun Ra’s Chicago: Afrofuturism and the City (University of Chicago Press, 2021), Dr. William Sites contextualizes this visionary musician in his home on earth—specifically in Chicago’s South Side, where from 1946 to 1961 Sun Ra lived and relaunched his career. The postwar South Side was a hotbed of unorthodox religious and cultural activism: Afrocentric philosophies flourished, storefront prophets sold “dream-book bibles,” and Elijah Muhammad was building the Nation of Islam. It was also an unruly musical crossroads where the man then still known as Sonny Blount drew from an array of intellectual and musical sources—from radical nationalism, revisionist Christianity, and science fiction to jazz, blues, Latin dance music, and pop exotica—all this to construct a philosophy and performance style that imagined a new identity and future for African Americans. Sun Ra’s Chicago shows that late twentieth-century Afrofuturism emerged from a deep, utopian engagement with the city—and that by excavating the postwar black experience of Sun Ra’s South Side milieu, we can come to see the possibilities of urban life in new ways. Dr. William Sites is Associate Professor in the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago. His fields of interest include urban and community studies, political economy, social movements, immigration, race, culture, social theory, and historical methods."]

Smith, Justin E.H. The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is: A History, a Philosophy, a Warning. Princeton University Press, 2022. ["Many think of the internet as an unprecedented and overwhelmingly positive achievement of modern human technology. But is it? In The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is, Justin Smith offers an original deep history of the internet, from the ancient to the modern world—uncovering its surprising origins in nature and centuries-old dreams of radically improving human life by outsourcing thinking to machines and communicating across vast distances. Yet, despite the internet’s continuing potential, Smith argues, the utopian hopes behind it have finally died today, killed by the harsh realities of social media, the global information economy, and the attention-destroying nature of networked technology. Ranging over centuries of the history and philosophy of science and technology, Smith shows how the “internet” has been with us much longer than we usually think. He draws fascinating connections between internet user experience, artificial intelligence, the invention of the printing press, communication between trees, and the origins of computing in the machine-driven looms of the silk industry. At the same time, he reveals how the internet’s organic structure and development root it in the natural world in unexpected ways that challenge efforts to draw an easy line between technology and nature. Combining the sweep of intellectual history with the incisiveness of philosophy, The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is cuts through our daily digital lives to give a clear-sighted picture of what the internet is, where it came from, and where it might be taking us in the coming decades."]

Stephens, Bret and Matt Taibbi. "On American Power." Honestly (February 9, 2022) ["Ever since the end of World War II, America has been the dominant world superpower. We have been ready to use that power to defend our national interest. Or to defend a certain set of values. Or both. But there has always been a tension in this country between isolationism and interventionism. Between those among us who think we should maintain an active role in world affairs—and those who want to pull back and focus on our myriad problems here at home. That long standing debate is being reignited right now on the Russian-Ukrainian border. So for today, a debate between Bret Stephens and Matt Taibbi on American Power. When should we use our might? And has recent history proven that we do more harm than good? Bret Stephens is author of America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder. Matt Taibbi is the author, most recently, of Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another"]

Susik, Abigail. "Surrealist Sabotage and the War on Work (Manchester University Press, 2021)." New Books in Art (March 31, 2021) ["According to the definition offered by Tate on the occasion of the exhibition Surrealism Without Borders, Surrealism “aims to revolutionise human experience. It balances a rational vision of life with one that asserts the power of the unconscious and dreams.” Surrealism, therefore, produces images and artefacts that are rooted outside the real and that evade rational description. For many artists, however, the practice of Surrealist art took on an explicitly political and therefore practical dimensions. In Surrealist Sabotage and the War on Work (Manchester UP, 2021), art historian Abigail Susik argues that many Surrealists tried to transform the work of art into a form of unmanageable anti-work. Abigail Susik speaks with Pierre d’Alancaisez about what the politics of work meant to the early French Surrealists, the ambiguous labour practices of artists like Simone Breton, and the imagery of typewriters and sewing machines that permeates the work of artists such as Oscar Domínguez. She brings these questions into the present by engaging with the work of the Chicago Surrealists of the 1960s and 70s. Abigail Susik is Associate Professor of Art History at Willamette University and co-editor of Surrealism and film after 1945."]

Taibbi, Matt. "Orwell Was Right." TK News (March 13, 2022) ["From free speech to 'spheres of influence' to our passion for endless war, we've become the doublethinkers 1984 predicted."]

Taylor, Astra and Sunaura Taylor. "Our Animals, Ourselves: The Socialist Feminist Case for Animal Liberation." Lux #3 (2022) ["Human liberation and animal liberation are thus bound together; the brutalization of all beings, as [Angela] Davis proclaimed, is connected." Books Discussed: The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory by Carol Adams; Caliban and the Witch: Women, The Body and Private Accumulation by Sylvia Federici; Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardized Life, and the Factory Farm by Alex Blanchette; Creatures of Empire: How Domestic Animals Transformed Early America by Virginia Anderson; Sistah Vegan: Black Women Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society by A. Breeze Harper. Astra Taylor's latest book is Remake the World: Essays, Reflections, Rebellions and Sunaura Taylor's latest book is Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation.]

Taylor, Steven. "What Is a Pandemic?" The Psychology of Pandemics: Preparing for the Next Global Outbreak of Infectious Disease. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019: excerpt of pages 1 - 10. [Book description: "Pandemics are large-scale epidemics that spread throughout world. Virologists predict that the next pandemic could occur in the coming years, probably from some form of influenza, with potentially devastating consequences. Vaccinations, if available, and behavioral methods are vital for stemming the spread of infection. However, remarkably little attention has been devoted to the psychological factors that influence the spread of pandemic infection and the associated emotional distress and social disruption. Psychological factors are important for many reasons. They play a role in nonadherence to vaccination and hygiene programs, and play an important role in how people cope with the threat of infection and associated losses. Psychological factors are important for understanding and managing societal problems associated with pandemics, such as the spreading of excessive fear, stigmatization, and xenophobia that occur when people are threatened with infection. This book offers the first comprehensive analysis of the psychology of pandemics. It describes the psychological reactions to pandemics, including maladaptive behaviors, emotions, and defensive reactions, and reviews the psychological vulnerability factors that contribute to the spreading of disease and distress. It also considers empirically supported methods for addressing these problems, and outlines the implications for public health planning."]

Teitelbaum, Benjamin. "The Future of the Apocalyptic Right in the U.S. (Dey Street Books, 2020)." The Future of ... (February 22, 2022) ["How did Steve Bannon come to believe the strange things he believes? The influential, former Trump aid, began as a Democrat-supporting Naval officer with an interest in Buddhism and transcendental meditation. He is now an anti-globalist, sympathizer of “Traditionalists” who look forward to a cataclysmic moment which will lead to a golden age of elitist, hierarchical, spiritual rule promoting long-lost essential truths. He uses the pseudonym "Alec Guinness." And Bannon believes in something akin to “the force” in Star Wars. How did Bannon undergo this transformation? In this episode, Owen Bennett-Jones sits down with Benjamin Teitelbaum, author of War for Eternity: Inside Bannon's Far-Right Circle of Global Power Brokers (Dey Street Books, 2020) to find out how Bannon became Bannon."]

Thomä, Dieter. Troublemakers: A Philosophy of Puer Robustus. Polity Press, 2019. ["The political crises and upheavals of our age often originate from the periphery rather than the center of power. Figures like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning acted in ways that disrupted power, revealing truths that those in power wanted to keep hidden. They are thorns in the side of power, troublemakers in the eyes of the powerful, though their actions may be valuable and lead to positive changes. In this important new book, Dieter Thomä examines the crucial but often overlooked function of these figures on the margins of society, developing a philosophy of troublemakers from the seventeenth century to the present day. Thomä takes as his starting point Hobbes’s idea of the puer robustus (literally “stout boy”), meaning a figure who rebels against order and authority. While Hobbes saw the puer robustus as a threat, he also recognized the potential, in the right conditions, for figures to rise up and become agents of positive change. Building on this notion, Thomä provides a rich survey of intellectuals who have been inspired by this idea over the past 300 years, from Rousseau, Diderot, Schiller, Victor Hugo, Marx, and Freud to Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss, and Horkheimer, right up to the recent work of Badiou and Agamben. In doing so, he develops a typology of the puer robustus and a means by which we can evaluate and assess the troublemakers of our own times. Thomä shows that troublemakers are an inescapable part of modernity, for as soon as social and political boundaries are defined, there will always be figures challenging them from the margins. This book will be of great interest not only to students and scholars in the humanities and social sciences but to anyone seeking to understand the crucial impact of these liminal figures on our world today."]

Thomas, Ebony Elizabeth. The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games. New York University Press, 2020. ["Reveals the diversity crisis in children's and young adult media as not only a lack of representation, but a lack of imagination. Stories provide portals into other worlds, both real and imagined. The promise of escape draws people from all backgrounds to speculative fiction, but when people of color seek passageways into the fantastic, the doors are often barred. This problem lies not only with children’s publishing, but also with the television and film executives tasked with adapting these stories into a visual world. When characters of color do appear, they are often marginalized or subjected to violence, reinforcing for audiences that not all lives matter. The Dark Fantastic is an engaging and provocative exploration of race in popular youth and young adult speculative fiction. Grounded in her experiences as YA novelist, fanfiction writer, and scholar of education, Thomas considers four black girl protagonists from some of the most popular stories of the early 21st century: Bonnie Bennett from the CW’s The Vampire Diaries, Rue from Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Gwen from the BBC’s Merlin, and Angelina Johnson from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Analyzing their narratives and audience reactions to them reveals how these characters mirror the violence against black and brown people in our own world. In response, Thomas uncovers and builds upon a tradition of fantasy and radical imagination in Black feminism and Afrofuturism to reveal new possibilities. Through fanfiction and other modes of counter-storytelling, young people of color have reinvisioned fantastic worlds that reflect their own experiences, their own lives. As Thomas powerfully asserts, “we dark girls deserve more, because we are more.”"]

Vint, Sherryl. "Science Fiction (MIT Press 2021)."  New Books in Science, Technology, and Society (April 4, 2022) ["The world today seems to be slipping into a science fiction future. We have phones that speak to us, cars that drive themselves, and connected devices that communicate with each other in languages we don't understand. Depending the news of the day, we inhabit either a technological utopia or Brave New World nightmare. This volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge surveys the uses of science fiction. Sherryl Vint's Science Fiction (MIT Press, 2021) focuses on what is at the core of all definitions of science fiction: a vision of the world made otherwise and what possibilities might flow from such otherness."]

Wengrow, David. "The Dawn of Everything, Part 1." Against the Grain (November 15, 2021) ["Egalitarianism is a thing of our distant past, or so we learn from conventional history. After a long stretch as hunter-gatherers roaming in small bands, our societies became bigger and more complex. And as they became larger, and cities emerged, hierarchy was inevitable in the form of kings, priests, and bureaucrats. The late anthropologist and anarchist David Graeber and the archeologist David Wengrow, however, argue that’s all wrong. In a more hopeful reading of the past, they contend that small-scale societies have often been hierarchical and large-scale societies more egalitarian." Graeber's and Wengrow's book The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity.]

West, Stephen. "The Creation of Meaning: Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death." Philosophize This! #162 (January 25, 2022) [On the anthropologist Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death: "... if you just, approached, the study, of human beings from a place of complete, Enlightenment era, scientific value neutrality…you might miss out on something very important about our existence and that is this:
That there seems to be a part…of whatever a Homo Sapien is…that is undeniably…religious. Now, remember back to the beginning of the Kierkegaard episode…use whatever language you want here…you don’t like the word religious… use the word anthropomorphic…use the word spiritual…use the word… human if you want…but Becker is going to say no matter what words you decide to use recognize the fact that there is a part of being a Homo Sapien… that cares about our actions being meaningful and counting for at least something. That is an impulse well documented in our religious traditions. Part of being a Homo Sapien, is the tendency to turn to oversimplified illusions that make us feel more comfortable. Well documented in religion. ... Or as Becker theorizes…maybe a totally value neutral scientific approach towards understanding human behavior ,has been sabotaging the entire process. Maybe what we need is something more like a humanistic science…something that can understand not just why people create the immortality projects that go on to do so much great stuff in the world…but also why they do the horrible things they do. Why they hurt people. Why they hate people. How it could be that people whose contributions to society help others and save lives…and how they could simultaneously be people who, “kill out of joy.”"]

---. "The Creation of Meaning - Escape from Evil." Philosophize This! #163 (March 2, 2022)  [Stephen Cave on Ernest Becker's Escape from Evil: "Becker was a very interesting anthropologist, working within a tradition of psychoanalysis, who tried to bring together a lot of different disciplines in the sciences and the arts, to create a kind of third culture in order to explain humanity. He thought the point of the human sciences – and indeed all science – was to stop us from being evil, and that evil resulted from our terror of death. We’re aware of our mortality, he argued, and would do anything to escape this prospect of death. Whatever we associate with death – with the challenge to our very existence – we think of as being evil. And if we have an idea of evil personified, it justifies any action. George W Bush called terrorists “evil doers”, and that seemed to legitimise everything, from Guantanamo to drone strikes. If something is defined as evil, we think it must be attacked at all costs. So the personification of death becomes the personification of evil. And in the name of combatting evil, we can do all sorts of terrible things – we do evil ourselves. Becker would see almost any ideological or religious context in these terms. Jihad is [an] example of people trying to cleanse the world for their own system, in order to legitimate their own beliefs in the promise of immortality. The Crusades were the same. Or take Nazism for example, which is less obvious than jihad but was the example more in the minds of those writing in the sixties and seventies. Nazism was also a system that promised immortality for being part of the German volk. In order to become immortal Germany had to become pure, and in order to become pure it had to destroy what was impure – and that was Jews, homosexuals and so on. This was a ritual act of cleansing, purging the evil as they saw it in order to create something pure."]

---. "Ralph Waldo Emerson - Self Reliance." Philosophize This! #164 (April 22, 2022) [Self-Reliance: ""Self-Reliance" is an 1841 essay written by American transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. It contains the most thorough statement of one of Emerson's recurrent themes: the need for each individual to avoid conformity and false consistency, and follow his own instincts and ideas."]

Wiggins, Steven A. "Nightmares with the Bible: The Good Book and Cinematic Demons (Horror and Scripture, 2020)." New Books in Biblical Studies (April 27, 2022) ["Nightmares with the Bible: The Good Book and Cinematic Demons (2021) published by Fortress Academic views demons through two lenses: that of western religion and that of cinema. Sketching out the long fear of demons in western history, including the Bible, Steve A. Wiggins moves on to analyze how popular movies inform our beliefs about demonic forces. Beginning with the idea of possession, he explores the portrayal of demons from ancient Mesopotamia and the biblical world (including in select extra-biblical texts), and then examines the portrayal of demons in popular horror franchises The Conjuring, The Amityville Horror, and Paranormal Activity. In the final chapter, Wiggins looks at movies that followed The Exorcist and offers new perspectives for viewing possession and exorcism. Written in non-technical language, this book is intended for anyone interested in how demons are perceived and how popular culture informs those perceptions."]

Wynter, Kevin. Critical Race Theory and Jordan Peele's Get Out. Bloomsbury, 2022. ["This book provides a concise introduction to critical race theory and shows how this theory can be used to interpret Jordan Peele's Get Out. It surveys recent developments in critical race studies and introduces key concepts that have helped shape the field such as Black masculinity, white privilege, the Black body, and miscegenation. The book's analysis of Get Out situates it within the context of the American horror film, illustrating how contemporary debates in critical race theory and approaches to the analysis of mainstream Hollywood cinema can illuminate each other. In this way, the book provides both an accessible reference guide to key terminology in critical race studies and film studies, while contributing new scholarship to both fields."]

Yglesias, Matthew. "Why U.S. Population Growth Crashed to a Record Low." Plain English (April 5, 2022) ["America has never grown at a slower pace than right now. Not only have deaths soared in the pandemic, but immigration is falling and our birth rate is near a record low, as well. Why is this happening? And why is population growth so great, anyway? Today’s guest is Matthew Yglesias, the author of the Slow Boring newsletter and the book One Billion Americans. In this episode, we talk about why politicians won’t prioritize family policy and immigration in D.C.; why population growth is good for Americans today and in the future; why a large U.S. population is good for the world; and whether critics have a case when they say a livable planet can’t take another billion people."]

Yulbarisov, Rustam. "LSD Capitalism Promises a Bad Trip for Us All." Jacobin (April 2, 2022) [Books discussed: Albert Hofmann's LSD: My Problem Child, Ben Sessa's The Psychedelic Renaissance, David Graeber's Debt: The First 5,000 Years, and David T. Courtwright's The Age of Addiction.]

Zipes, Jack. "Bambi Isn't About What You Think Its About." Ideas (December 15, 2021) ["Most of us think we know the story of Bambi—but do we? The Original Bambi: The Story of a Life in the Forest (Princeton UP, 2022) is an all-new, illustrated translation of a literary classic that presents the story as it was meant to be told. For decades, readers’ images of Bambi have been shaped by the 1942 Walt Disney film—an idealized look at a fawn who represents nature’s innocence—which was based on a 1928 English translation of a novel by the Austrian Jewish writer Felix Salten. This masterful new translation gives contemporary readers a fresh perspective on this moving allegorical tale and provides important details about its creator. Originally published in 1923, Salten’s story is more somber than the adaptations that followed it. Life in the forest is dangerous and precarious, and Bambi learns important lessons about survival as he grows to become a strong, heroic stag. Jack Zipes’s introduction traces the history of the book’s reception and explores the tensions that Salten experienced in his own life—as a hunter who also loved animals, and as an Austrian Jew who sought acceptance in Viennese society even as he faced persecution. With captivating drawings by award-winning artist Alenka Sottler, The Original Bambi captures the emotional impact and rich meanings of a celebrated story."]


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