Ecosocialist Bookshelf, October 2023

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New books for reds and greens. Cuba’s degrowth; Viruses; Bluefin tuna; Small farm solutions; Capitalism and slavery and poverty

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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.

Gustav Cederlöv
Energy Transition, Geopolitics, and the Infrastructural State in Cuba

University of California Press, 2023
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba lost 86% of its oil supply, and was plunged into a severe energy crisis. In response, the country developed a low-carbon economy based on economic and social reform rather than technology. Cederlöv examines this period of rapid low-carbon energy transition, which many have described as a miracle and a successful case of degrowth.

Marilyn J. Roossinck
A Natural History

Princeton University Press, 2023
Viruses exist in and on everything, everywhere. Rapidly evolving, they are highly opportunistic and relentlessly efficient. While some cause disease, others protect their hosts from other microbes, or enable hosts to function in otherwise impossible ways. A comprehensive and richly illustrated introduction to viruses that reveals their true nature. Writing in nontechnical and easy-to-follow language, Roossinck examines their diversity, behaviors, life cycles, and much more.

Karen Pinchin
Tuna, Obsession and the Future of Our Seas

Penguin Random House, 2023
The Bluefin tuna’s precise vision and powerful speed were the culmination of millions of years of evolution, but they are no match for the increasingly industrial capabilities of global fishing fleets. This investigative account combines science, business, crime, and environmental justice to tell the story of this often overlooked and seriously endangered animal, and the inadequate attempts to prevent mass slaughter in the world’s oceans.

Chris Smaje
The Case for an Ecological Food System and Against Manufactured Foods

Chelsea Green, 2023
An important and controversial defense of small-scale farming and a robust critique of ecomodernist solutions to the growing agricultural crisis. In his award-winning book Regenesis, George Monbiot argued that saving the world requires far fewer farms and widespread adoption of factory-produced foods. Chris Smaje argues that the proposed techno-solutions just won’t work, and advocates a low-carbon agrarian localism that puts power in the hands of local communities, not high-tech corporations.

Maxine Berg & Pat Hudson

Polity Press, 2023
Acknowledging Britain’s role in slavery is not just about toppling statues and renaming streets. Berg and Hudson document in revealing detail the role of slavery in the making of Britain’s industrial revolution. The forces set in motion by the slave and plantation trades seeped into almost every aspect of the economy and society. Berg and Hudson document in revealing detail the role of slavery in the making of Britain’s industrial revolution.

Jim Silver
Capitalism and Poverty in Britain

Fernwood Publishing, 2023
Silver exposes the evolution of capitalism from its origins in the long transition from feudalism to neoliberalism, arguing that poverty has always been an inevitable consequence of its unending search for profits. Rather than solving poverty, official policies have been geared to manage and control the poor, to prevent them from starving or rebelling. A real solution will require massive social movements that can fight to deeply disrupt system.

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