New Year Reading

Ecosocialist Bookshelf, January 2024

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From killer insects to trash to degrowth, six new books for understanding and changing the world

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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!) it says.

Timothy C. Winegar
A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator

Penguin Random House
The mosquito has determined the fates of empires and nations, killing an estimated 52 billion people from the total of 108 billion humans who have ever lived. As the greatest purveyor of extermination we have ever known, she has played a greater role in shaping our human story than any other living thing.

Christopher Shaw
Climate change poses a decisive challenge to free market liberalism, while closing off the possibility of imagining a different kind of future for humanity. Shaw analyses how liberalism has shaped our understanding of climate change and how liberalism is legitimated in the face of a crisis for which liberalism has no answers.

Philip Ball
A User’s Guide to the New Biology

University of Chicago Press
“Just about all the neat stories that researchers routinely tell about how living cells work are incomplete, flawed, or just totally mistaken.” Philip Ball explores the latest discoveries in biology, revealing life to be a far richer, more ingenious affair than we had guessed.

Kohei Saito
The Degrowth Manifesto

Penguin Random House
Best-known for his academic Marxist works, Saito’s more popular account of his views  was a surprise best-seller in Japan, selling over half a million copies. He argues that calls for ‘sustainable growth’ and a ‘Green New Deal’ are a dangerous compromise.  By building a system of social ownership, he believes we can restore abundance and focus on those activities that are essential for human life, reversing climate change and saving the planet.

Tim Palmer
The Natural Solution to Our Urgent Flooding Crisis

University of California Press
A powerful argument for protection of floodplain open space and for programs that help people relocate their homes away from high-water hazards. Only by recognizing and adapting to the indomitable forces of nature can we thrive in the challenging climate to come.

Oliver Franklin-Wallis
The Secret World of Waste and the Urgent Search for a Cleaner Future

A shocking journey inside the secretive multi-billion dollar world that underpins the modern economy, quietly profiting from what we leave behind. Franklin-Wallis tells a story of humanity based on garbage and industrial waste and proposes a blueprint for building a healthier, more sustainable world — before we’re all buried in trash.