RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

  • Capitalism on Campus: Sex Work, Academic Freedom and the Market
    Ron Roberts
    This is not for the faint of heart or for the overly sensitive reader. Roberts touches on strong issues and expresses his opinion with fervor and intensity. Recommended for a reader with an open mind, who is willing to see and try to understand another's viewpoint on a hot button topic. ~ Erica Watkins, NetGalley

  • America and Other Fictions
    Ed Simon
    A brilliant collection of Essays spanning across different topics within the American society. Simon takes us on a journey of discovery and suggestion,

    This is a very dense read, undoubtedly produced for long term thought and not a light hearted afternoon sit down. The deep discussions on religion and politics and it’s intertwining roots within America has produced essays of profound richness.

    ~ Mycal Amber Burgess , NetGalley

  • Marx Returns
    Jason Barker
    An outrageously ingenious work. A thing of rare beauty. Jason Barker's writing is in a league of its own, and if you disagree then to the Ninth Circle of Hell with you. ~ Alex Taek Gwang Lee, Kyung Hee University

  • Zinnophobia
    David Detmer
    The Battle Over History and Howard Zinn
    by KIM SCIPES

    It is rare to get an intelligent, well-sourced and coherent discussion of issues today such as the role of history in education, politics and scholarship, but David Detmer of Purdue University Northwest has provided such with his new book, Zinnophobia: The Battle over History in Education, Politics and Scholarship. Detmer has very carefully dismembered much of the right wing’s “intellectual” assault on critical scholarship.

    Dr. Detmer, Professor of Philosophy, has used the attack on the historical work of the late Howard Zinn as his entrée to the discussion. And Detmer starts close to home, discussing then-Indiana governor and current President of Purdue University, Mitch Daniels’, efforts to ensure that Zinn’s work not be allowed in any Indiana classroom. In February 2010, while governor, Daniels sent e-mails to several subordinates, “to make sure that a book he did not like, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, would not be ‘in use anywhere in Indiana’” (p. 17). Detmer used e-mails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act by the Associated Press (AP) to examine Daniels’ deplorable behavior.

    Daniels’ problem with Zinn? The heart of it, from a Daniels’ e-mail, “It is a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page” (18).

    Once the e-mails were published by the AP, Daniels and members of his administration tried to mitigate the ensuing controversy by trying obfuscation. To divert the attention on his efforts, Daniels referred to “Respected scholars and communicators of all ideologies agree that the work of Howard Zinn was irredeemably slanted, and unsuited for teaching to school children” (19).

    Detmer has none of it: he carefully discusses the charges and countercharges and, in this book, also examines the work of his critics, both those Daniels relies on as well as others, to examine the quality of right-wing commentary on Zinn’s thinking and his research.

    He starts with Daniels: “Notice, first, that in the initial emails, Daniels offers no evidence, argument or reasoning of any kind in support or his harsh judgment of Zinn’s work. Nor does he engage Zinn’s text—no page numbers or specific claims or analyses are cited.” Obviously, Detmer is not impressed: “we demand much more of our freshman students in the papers they write for our introductory courses” (21).

    Daniels will probably not get this, as the current President of Purdue University has no academic qualifications to even be appointed into this position; as Detmer notes, “[Daniels] did not have a Ph.D. or comparable research degree; he had no teaching experience; and he had never published any peer reviewed scholarly research.” However, Daniels had an advantage with those who hired him: “the trustees [of Purdue University] owed their own positions as trustees to him—as governor, he had appointed eight of them to the Board of Trustees, and had re-appointed the other two” (17) But despite whatever he’s learned since becoming Purdue’s president in January 2013, it is difficult to imagine a more damning condemnation from a Faculty member, comparing Daniels’ work unfavorably to that required of freshman students in an introductory course.

    Yet, as Detmer shows again and again in his consideration of Zinn’s esteemed critics—and he respectfully examines and then dissects the work of 25 of them—most of them don’t meet the standards required of Freshman students either: so Daniels is not alone, as the people upon whom Daniels relies on in his vain effort to discredit Zinn also do an incompetent job when discussing Zinn and his work.

    One can have fun reading Detmer’s intellectual devastation of Zinn’s critics—I especially appreciated his dismembering of David Horowitz’ supposed “scholarship” (pp. 271-308)—but, for me the meat of the book is in the second chapter, “Bias and Objectively in History,” where Detmer discusses Zinn’s personal and intellectual history, and his approaches to history. This is an area where Zinn has been criticized. Detmer explains:

    Generally, the idea of ‘objectivity’ has to do with carrying out activities such as thinking and writing (activities that are subjective in the sense that they are done by subjects—that is, by humans, who have feelings, attributes, desires and biases) in a manner that is maximally faithful to the external objects with which those activities deal. Objectivity in this sense, is most likely to be achieved when one’s conclusions are based on precise measurements, careful observations, and rigorously logical appraisals of relevant evidence—in short, on a maximally attentive and responsive engagement with the object being investigated (115-116).

    While beginning here, Detmer continues, “But the tasks of the historian are very different from those of the tennis line judge, and Zinn argues that objectivity-as-neutrality is neither possible nor desirable for historians.” He elucidates, “First, historians, unlike tennis line judges, must make decisions about what to include, what to exclude, and what to emphasize” (117). These choices, accordingly, are based on each historian’s personal values about what is interesting or not, what is important or illuminating.

    Secondly, society at any time is moving in some direction, and one can accept, acquiesce to or reject that direction. Refusing to take sides, according to Detmer’s take on Zinn, is that “the decision to refrain from taking sides does not constitute genuine neutrality, but rather acquiescence to the status quo” (118).

    After discussing this, Detmer returns to Daniels: “We are now in a position to appreciate the jaw-dropping depths of Mitch Daniels’ intellectual dishonesty, in asserting, without any kind of explanation or qualification, that Zinn simply rejected objectivity disdainfully…” (126). As Detmer explains, Zinn believed that “all of these tools of good scholarship,” which he had previously identified as accuracy, careful observations, precision or intellectual rigor and related efforts, “should be brought to bear on pressing social problems, even if scholarly engagement with such problems might require scholars to take sides on controversial issues” (127). So, contrary to Daniels’ ideological assertion, Zinn’s work was thoughtful, very seriously researched, and based on serious consideration of evidence that both supported and challenged his own thinking: Howard Zinn and his work deserve respectful appreciation.

    At first, however, I was critical of Detmer’s approach to Zinn’s many critics in this book, feeling like it was “overkill”; I would have suggested that he pick out three or four of the most cogent critiques and rigorously examine them—there’s no reason to have examined 25 different critics. Considering the time and energy it took Detmer to do such rigorous examination of the different critics, I can imagine him having much better things to do with his time. Yet, in reviewing his book, I came to realize that Detmer’s target was more than just Mitch Daniels, or even these critics: Detmer’s project was to challenge what passes for all-too-many people the cogency of current right-wing thinking in this country, whether in or out of the academy. To say Detmer “struck gold” would be an understatement, as this book is a very closely researched and well-thought out examination of its subject in various manifestations.

    In short, I think it’s fair to say that David Detmer has not only successfully defended Howard Zinn and his work, but assertively embraced Zinn’s approach to historical work. He certainly has embraced critical thinking and sober reflection over the ideological blatherings of Zinn’s critics and their ilk. This approach is relevant to much more than a former governor of the State of Indiana, but arguably, should be extended to the current inhabitant of the Oval Office. ~ Kim Scipes, https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/22/the-battle-over-history-and-howard-zinn/

  • America and Other Fictions
    Ed Simon
    America and Other Fictions is a collection of essays with topics ranging from politics, history and religion, right up to Bob Dylan. While the topics seem vastly different at times, the collection does put America at its heart. This is not an easy or lightweight read, but it is a rewarding one, I thought.

    Simon gives the reader a lot to think about throughout this collection. I found his focused, and on occasion fiery anger that makes appearances from time to time, to be refreshing and authentic. I personally enjoyed his take on John Knox and other historical figures, although I'm not sure I agreed with a few of the points he made.

    Anyway, this one of the surprise reads of the year for me, as I wasn't expecting it be nearly as thought provoking as it was. Highly recommended.
    ~ Kat Munro, NetGalley

  • Marx Returns
    Jason Barker
    Marx Returns creatively weaves together real historical events; imaginative flights of fancy from Marx’s point of view, meditating on the nature of capital, mathematics, and ontology; and an uptempo narrative that is at heart a familial drama about the experience of exile in the nineteenth century. ~ Rafael Khachaturian, Jacobin Magazine

  • When Journalism was a Thing
    Alexandra Kitty
    Timely and needed analysis of the media relation to our common world. Perhaps since medium really became a message the trouble started. Propaganda-based broadcasting and writing was an exception (or a rule reserved only for tabloid-media) until the news and opinion became a product. Until that time one could expect from serious journalist informed opinion and balanced judgement. The young generation of media workers do not know about these standards. It is being attracted often by quick fame (social media) rather than work for common good. Ms Kitty elaborates on the problem brilliantly. Anyone who perceives herself or himself as an intelligent person should familiarise themselves with "When Journalism was a Thing". ~ Ben Goldberg, Journalist

  • Capitalism on Campus: Sex Work, Academic Freedom and the Market
    Ron Roberts
    Capitalism on Campus: Sex Work, Academic Freedom, and the Market by Ron Roberts is an examination of the recent changes in British universities. Roberts is Chartered Psychologist with over thirty years experience in higher education. He has previously worked at King’s College, University College London, St Bartholomew’s Medical College, The Tavistock Institute, QMW, the University of Westminster, and Kingston University.

    Higher education is making the news in the US and Britain seems to mirror the US example. In the US there is almost $1.5 Trillion in student debt the number is lower for Britain but the debt per student is higher, in fact, the highest in the world. In 1997 the average debt was under 5,000 Pounds today it is over 50,000 Pounds. The education process has become warped. No longer are universities places to encourage thinking and discovery but have become places where ratings override learning. It is seen in American public schools with standardized testing where teachers are pressed to teach students how to pass exams rather than learn. Colleges have a ranking system that is somewhat similar. The better your school the better your chances of landing a good job. The problems occur when students are coached into making the school appear better than encouraging learning. Schools are being administered by bureaucrats that care more for image than substance.

    Although sex work takes the first position in the subtitle it is not the main concentration of the book. In 1970s movies occasionally a detective would be searching for the bad guy and end up in a strip club. He would talk to one of the girls and find out she was a university student, usually sociology, she would pass on the information and hint that tuition, job outlook, or some other reason forced her to work as a dancer, but she would conclude it is going to make a great thesis. Today that rarity has become much more common with an alarming amount of students who know someone involved in sex work. The internet makes it even easier today. Sex work offers a temporary, high paying job that takes less time than a traditional campus job. Also, students involved in sex work spend more time studying according to the research. Universities fight against sex work as immoral but really it has more to do with the school’s image than a students reputation.

    Education has evolved from learning institutions to marketable products that care more about image and standing rather than the quality of the output. America boomed after WWII when returning GIs went to college. A higher education was the ticket out of the factory job. Today in the US education is costly and seen by many as a waste. To complicate that the factory jobs are also gone. What was once a large middle class is now an endangered species. The good paying jobs are gone and education is too expensive. Roberts’ look at the British example is scholarly. It is not light reading but more akin to a research paper. Documentation runs through the text which primary purpose is to present facts rather than deliver a smooth narrative.

    ~ Evil Cyclist, https://evilcyclist.wordpress.com

  • America and Other Fictions
    Ed Simon
    Simon writes a complex mix of subject matter and thoughts. It is not a light afternoon read but something that needs to be thought upon and processed. The information is densely packed and takes much from philosophy, religious and otherwise, to present a picture of America and Christianity without combining the two. A thought-provoking and interesting study of the two ideas. ~ Evil Cyclist, evilcyclist.wordpress.com/

  • Marx Returns
    Jason Barker
    An entertaining work of historical fiction. ~ Jacqui Freeman, Socialist Review

  • How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 Easy Steps (second edition)
    Youssef El-Gingihy
    Let's imagine something almost unimaginable. The leadership of a country with the world's finest health system, the pride of the nation, decides to dismantle it and replace it by the system that is by far the most costly, bureaucratic, and ineffective in the developed world, apparently under the influence of rigid doctrine (and perhaps greed). Unimaginable, but it appears to be happening, so Youssef El-Gingihy argues, all too persuasively, in his review of the steps being taken to convert the NHS to the failed US model. ~ Noam Chomsky

  • Methods Devour Themselves
    Benjanun Sriduangkaew
    J. Moufawad-Paul
    "Methods Devour Themselves is a unique intervention in the fields of philosophy and literature. Aside from a foreword by Moufawad-Paul and an afterword by Sriduangkaew, the book alternates between three short stories by Sriduangkaew and three essays by Moufawad-Paul. Rarely does it happen that an artist or writer carries out a sustained conversation with a given theoretical intervention through art (in this case, science fiction) and not wearing the hat, as it were, of the critic or theorist who reflectively theorizes about the literature that serves as the terrain and object of interpretation. Whereas Moufawad-Paul responds through theoretical analysis, Sriduangkaew interjects in fiction." ~ Devin Zane Shaw, https://www.c-scp.org/2018/08/30/benjanun-sriduangkaew-and-j-moufawad-paul-methods-devour-themselves

  • How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 Easy Steps (second edition)
    Youssef El-Gingihy
    The campaign to undermine the NHS is often concealed in Orwellian euphemisms. Dr. Youssef El-Gingihy breaks through this web of deceit with this excellent primer of the who, what, where and why your Health Service is being stolen from you. ~ John Pilger, investigative journalist & filmmaker

  • When Journalism was a Thing
    Alexandra Kitty
    Growing up in a journalist’s home and having been a journalist myself, I was keen to read When Journalism was a Thing. As a profession, journalism used to be a powerful, positive force, one many young people aspired to pursue, especially after The Washington Post broke the Watergate scandal and helped to depose a President.

    The advent and explosive growth of digital, however, relegated print to a red-haired stepchild position or worse ... changing the face of journalism forever. And the evolution from a truth-seeking entity to a biased ratings-driven hack has destroyed the profession’s credibility, claims author Alexandra Kitty.

    Kitty, who has published three books, including Don’t Believe It!: How Lies Become News, and Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism, explains the forces that led to the death of “old journalism” while offering a model for a new version she believes can be noble again. She says, “It will take humility, honesty, idealism, and most of all, bravery to make the bold revolutionary changes ... where the battle for truth [not ratings] counts the most.” Highly recommended! ~ Literary Soiree, NetGalley

  • When Journalism was a Thing
    Alexandra Kitty
    A very timely book at a era when journalism and journalists are being attacked as fake news,this is a clear concise look at what journalists do & how important their jobs are.Young journalists should grab this book anyone interested in free presses role wil find this book well worth reading. ~ Rhonda Lomazow , NetGalley

  • Marx Returns
    Jason Barker
    Barker conjures the true stakes of Marx’s tragedy which instead of ending in reconciliation, forces it to assume terrifying forms in its prospect of life after death, or of what somewhat ridiculously has come to be known as permanent revolution. ~ Ana Stankovic, Filozofski vestnik

  • Marx Returns
    Jason Barker
    In the year of the Marx bicentennial anniversary Barker’s novel is an experimental and thought-provoking work, the type of counterfactual history that makes us question precisely why and how “Marx was right”. ~ Chris Rumble, Historical Materialism

  • Marx Returns
    Jason Barker
    A rollicking, zany, hilarious, irreverential reconstruction of the life and world of Karl Marx. ~ G. M. Goshgarian, editor and translator of Louis Althusser's posthumous writings

  • How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 Easy Steps (second edition)
    Youssef El-Gingihy
    The fight to maintain the NHS as a public service is one of the most fundamental battles we face today in our struggle for a British society that works for the many.

    This wonderful, sobering book details how governments have teamed up with corporate and financial elites in an underhand effort to privatise and dismantle the NHS. Crucially, it also proposes solutions for how we can reclaim our NHS and the critical role of the grassroots groups leading this fight we can and must win. ~ Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party

  • Coming Revolution, The
    Ben Reynolds
    Reynolds offers the first complete hypothesis for the malady of inflation that swept post-World War II capitalism, based solely on the premises of Marx’s labor theory of value. This is a remarkable achievement in its own right and one deserving of praise for Reynolds work... Reynolds' book thus calls for a complete re-evaluation of the role of the state in post-war capitalism. ~ Jehu Eaves, https://therealmovement.wordpress.com/2018/07/20/the-coming-apocalypse-ben-reynolds-explains-why-wage-labor-has-no-future/

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