Reading matters

Ecosocialist Bookshelf, May 2022

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Democracy, insects, Cuba, plastic, capitalist drug pushers & trespassing. Books for understanding and changing the world

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Ecosocialist Bookshelf is a monthly Climate & Capitalism feature, 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.

Eve Darian-Smith
Rising Antidemocracy and the Climate Crisis

Stanford University Press, 2022
As political leaders and big business work together in the pursuit of profits and power, anti-environmentalism has become an essential political tool enabling the rise of extreme right governments and energizing their populist supporters. Eve Darian-Smith examines the out-of-control wildfires that have raged in Brazil, California and Australia, showing that they are closely linked through capitalism, colonialism, industrialization, and resource extraction.

Oliver Milman
The Fall of the Tiny Empires that Run the World

Norton, 2022
Three out of every four of known animal species are insects. Milman dives into the torrent of recent evidence that suggests this kaleidoscopic group of creatures is suffering the greatest existential crisis in its remarkable 400-million-year history. These losses further tear at the tapestry of life on our degraded planet: even insects we may dread, including the hated cockroach, or the stinging wasp, play crucial ecological roles, and their decline would profoundly shape our own story.

Edited by Emily J. Kirk, Isabel Story & Anna Clayfield
Management and Adaptation

Lexington Books, 2022
Cuba’s commitment to disaster preparedness and management has been praised by the UN, Oxfam, and the World Health Organization. This comprehensive analysis of Cuba’s model explores why Cuba’s approach to emergency disaster response is such a success and the aspects that make it so distinct.

Alice Mah
How Corporations Are Fueling the Ecological Crisis and What We Can Do About It

Polity Press, 2022
Petrochemical and plastics corporations have fought relentlessly to protect and expand plastic markets. From denying the toxic health effects of plastics to co-opting circular economy solutions to plastic waste and exploiting the opportunities offered up by the global pandemic, industry has deflected attention from the key problem: plastics production. We must tackle the problem at its root — the capitalist imperative for limitless growth.

Patrick Radden Keefe
The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty

Penguin Random House, 2021
Through Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family accumulated vast riches by promoting drug addiction, first to Valium, and then to deadly OxyContin. In a powerful work of investigative journalism, Keefe documents the greed, arrogance and inhumanity of a corrupt capitalist enterprise in search of profits at any cost.

Nick Hayes
Crossing the Lines that Divide Us

Bloomsbury, 2020
In Britain, thousands of square miles of rivers, woodland, lakes and meadows — 92% of the country’s land —  are blocked from public access, enclosed by fences and walls and “protected” by the law of trespass. Nick Hayes of the Land Justice Network has deliberately trespassed on much of that land. Here he describes his experiences, tells the centuries-long story of enclosure, exploitation and dispossession, and argues that the root of social inequality is the uneven distribution of land.