Ecosocialist Bookshelf is a monthly column, hosted by Ian Angus. Books described here may be reviewed at length in future. Inclusion of a book does not imply endorsement, or that C&C agrees with everything (or even anything!) these books say.
ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, JUNK
A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal
Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2021
Much of what we eat today has little in common with the substances that nourished our ancestors. The land that grows modern food has been massively degraded, while the people who make our food are ruthlessly exploited. Bittman sees hope in movements around the world that are fighting to free society from Big Food’s grip.
SCIENCE ON A MISSION
How Military Funding Shaped What We Do and Don’t Know about the Ocean
University of Chicago Press, 2021
After World War II, the US military turned to a new, uncharted theater of warfare: the deep sea. The US Navy poured unprecedented amounts of money and support into the ocean sciences. Oreskes details how military funding both helped expand knowledge of our planet, while distorting research priorities and creating significant, lasting, and consequential domains of ignorance.
DIARY OF A YOUNG NATURALIST
Milkweed Editions, 2021
“I have experienced challenges but also felt incredible joy, wonder, curiosity and excitement. In sharing this journey my hope is that people of all generations will not only understand autism a little more but also appreciate a child’s eye view on our delicate and changing biosphere.” A beautifully-written and inspiring book by a sixteen-year-old activist, focusing on his intense connection with the natural world in Northern Ireland.
FINDING THE MOTHER TREE
Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest
Penguin Random House, 2021
Canadian ecologist Suzanne Simard forever changed how people view trees by showing their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest. Her pioneering research on underground communication between trees is now widely accepted. Her memoir traces her life and career, from agent of the forestry industry to academic and defender of forest communities.
Jonathan Calvert & George Arbuthnot
FAILURES OF STATE
The Inside Story of Britain’s Battle with Coronavirus
Harper Collins, 2021
Using hundreds of inside sources, politicians, emergency planners, scientists, doctors, paramedics and bereaved families, along with leaked data and documents, Failures of State shows how the British government botched its response to Covid-19, and then tried to cover up its responsibility for the deaths of 128,000 people to date, with more dying every day. A powerful exposure of the ruling elite’s indifference to human suffering.
Richard Maxwell & Toby Miller
HOW GREEN IS YOUR SMARTPHONE?
Polity Books, 2020
Consumer electronics and other digital technologies are made in ways that intensify some of the worst environmental disasters of our time — conflict-minerals extraction, life-threatening work, toxic pollution, rising energy consumption, carbon emissions, and e-waste. Can technology live up to its potential without wrecking the planet?