Reading matters

Ecosocialist Bookshelf, September 2018

New books for reds and greens. Three centuries of factories; Holland in the Little Ice Age; Thinking in deep time; Horizontal gene transfer; The physics of evolution


Ecosocialist Bookshelf is an occasional feature. We can’t review every book we receive, but we will list and link to any that seem relevant to Climate & Capitalism’s mission, along with brief descriptions. Titles listed here may be reviewed in future.

Please note: Inclusion of a book does not imply endorsement, or that we agree with everything (or even anything!) the book says.


Joshua B. Freeman
BEHEMOTH
A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World

W.W. Norton, 2018
The factory revolution has transformed human life and the environment. Freeman traces factory history from  the textile mills in England to today’s sweatshops that make sneakers, toys, and cellphones in China and Vietnam, and shows how protest movements won worker rights and protections that are taken for granted today. A magisterial work on factories and the people whose labor made them run.

Dagomar Degroot
THE FRIGID GOLDEN AGE
Climate Change, the Little Ice Age, and the Dutch Republic, 1560–1720

Cambridge University Press, 2018
The first detailed analysis of how a society thrived amid the Little Ice Age, a period of climatic cooling that reached its chilliest point between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The Little Ice Age presented not only challenges for Dutch citizens but also opportunities that they aggressively exploited, offering lessons that we would be wise to heed today, as we confront the growing crisis of global warming.

Marcia Bjornerud
TIMEFULNESS
How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World

Princeton University Press, 2018
Knowing the rhythms of Earth’s deep past and conceiving of time as a geologist does can give us the perspective we need for a more sustainable future. Marcia Bjornerud explains why understanding deep time is vital in the Anthropocene, this human epoch of accelerating planetary change, and proposes solutions for building a more time-literate society.

David Quammen
THE TANGLED TREE
A Radical New History of Life

Simon & Schuster, 2018
Recent discoveries in molecular biology can change our understanding of evolution and life’s history, with implications for human health and human nature. David Quammen’s  chronicle of the discovery of Horizontal Gene Transfer, the movement of genes between species, shows how a new view of evolution is emerging, and examines its implications for humanity’s place in the history of life.

Charles S. Cockell
THE EQUATIONS OF LIFE
How Physics Shapes Evolution

Basic Books, 2018
Biologist Charles S. Cockell argues that the laws of physics narrowly constrain how life can evolve, making evolution’s outcomes predictable, because there is a narrow set of possible solutions to the challenges of existence. A radical argument about what life can and cannot be, on Earth or any other planet.


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