Reading Matters

Ecosocialist Bookshelf, July 2021

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A People’s Green New Deal, plus 3 new books on pandemics and 2 on the global food crisis

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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.

Max Ajl
Pluto Press, 2021
What — and for whom — is the Green New Deal? Carefully analyzing the GND plans proposed by various mainstream environmentalists, Max Ajl argues convincingly that none of them proposes the changes that are desperately needed to solving today’s interlocked social-ecological crises, which are rooted in the imperialist world system. He outlines an alternative GND that is committed to decommodification, working-class power, anti-imperialism and agro-ecology.

Salvador Macip
From the Spanish Flu to Covid-19

Polity Press, 2021
A specialist in cellular biology explains, in clear and accessible language, what it means to share the planet with trillions of microbes. Focuses on the plagues that are still causing millions of deaths every year, from influenza, TB and malaria to COVID-19, and the methods that have been used to control them. An important book for understanding a world in which some of the greatest threats are invisible.

Alex de Waal
Two Hundred Years of War on Disease and Its Alternatives

Polity Press, 2021
For two centuries, policy makers have adopted military methods to fight epidemics — methods that failed miserably to defeat existing diseases and prevent the emergence of new threats. Today, they ‘fight’ Covid-19 without addressing the reasons our society is so vulnerable. The Executive Director if the World Peace Federation makes the case for a new democratic public health for the Anthropocene.

Michael Lewis
A Pandemic Story

W.W. Norton, 2021
When news of the new pandemic was first reported, the president of the world’s most powerful country insisted it was no worse than flu. Fortunately, dissenting scientists and doctors fought back, and refused to accept directives based on misinformation and pseudoscience. Best-selling author Michael Lewis profiles medical visionaries who held the line against official ignorance.

Nicoletta Batini, editor
Smart Policies for Health and the Planet

Island Press, 2021
Industrial agriculture malnutrition, diseases, and environmental degradation — and leaves billions hungry. The authors propose market-based strategies that they believe will make food production sustainable, nutritious, and fair. Ecosocialists won’t be convinced by the policies they propose, but the book’s accounts of the nature and extent of the world’s food crises make it a useful resource.

Charles C. Ludington & Matthew Morse Booker, editors
How History Matters to Contemporary Food Debates

University of North Carolina Press, 2019
Thirteen essays take strong positions, even arguing with one another, as they explore the many themes and tensions that define how we understand our food—from the promises and failures of agricultural technology to the politics of taste.