Reading that matters

Ecosocialist Bookshelf, July 2023

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Wildfires, deadly heat, climate strategy, sensing the world, anti-science, mining resistance. Six important new books for reds and greens

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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.

John Vaillant
The Making of A Beast

Alfred A. Knopf, 2023
In May 2016, the city Fort McMurray, the hub of Canada’s tar sands industry, was overrun by wildfire. The multi-billion-dollar disaster melted vehicles, turned entire neighborhoods into firebombs, and drove 88,000 people from their homes in a single afternoon. John Vaillant documents what happened and why, and argues that the Fort McMurray fire is a preview of life in a hotter, more flammable world.

Jeff Goodell
Life and Death on a Scorched Planet

Little, Brown & Co., 2023
In June 2023, the daytime temperature in parts of Iran passed 49ºC, the hottest ever recorded, too hot for human survival. Goodell shows how extreme heat, beyond anything humans have ever experienced, is already dramatically changing the world, impacting everything from food supply to disease outbreaks. If it isn’t stopped soon, global heating means global catastrophe.

Benjamin Kunkel and Lola Seaton, editors
Debates on Climate Strategy from New Left Review

Verso, 2023
How can we stop global warming from destroying civilization? In landmark texts first published by New Left Review, a range of radical thinkers debate left alternatives to runaway global heating, capitalist crisis and wider environmental breakdown. An important volume that clarifies the stakes in today’s key disputes between Green New Deal supporters and proponents of degrowth.

Ashley Ward
A New Story of Our Senses

Profile Books, 2023
It was long believed that humans have six senses, but modern science suggests we may have as many as fifty-three. We experience the material world through them —but how do they work, and how do they affect our actions and our interpretation of what happens around us? Blending biology and neuroscience, Ward provides an accessible guide to what we now know about how our senses work and affect our behavior.

David Lipsky
Climate and the Science of DeniaI

Norton, 2023
How did anti-science views and policies gain such a grip on American politics? The science of global warming has been well known for decades, but hucksters, zealots, and crackpots have lied about that science in ever more appalling ways. Lipsky traces the evolution of climate denial, exposing how it grew out of early efforts to build a network of untruth about products like aspirin and cigarettes.

Tom Gatehouse
Community Resistance to Mining in Latin America

Practical Action Publishing, 2023
In recent decades, mining in Latin America has become far more powerful and destructive than anything seen before, expanding into remote and ecologically sensitive areas, transforming landscapes and destroying ancient communities. The victims have not accepted this passively; as Gatehouse shows, resistance has grown everywhere, and has won some impressive victories. An inspiring account of popular movements against capitalist ecocide.