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Truthdig’s Books of the Year: Part Two
Posted on Dec 29, 2014
Editor’s note: This is the second installment of our two-part rundown of the best reads of the year, selected by Truthdig staff members and reviewers. To read about our first five picks, click here.
6. “Stokely: A Life” by Peniel E. Joseph
In his Truthdig review, Paul Von Blum salutes Joseph’s bid to reconsider Stokely Carmichael’s legacy, as well as the author’s argument for why others might do the same.
“ ‘Stokely: A Life’ is an outstanding addition to the burgeoning literature about the continuing African-American freedom struggle. Its most enduring contribution will likely be its restorative role in bringing Stokely Carmichael back into the arena of historical debate and public discourse. For much too long, the nation has relegated its militant black figures to the margins of the historical record. This book is a major antidote to that regrettable state of affairs.”
7. “When Google Met WikiLeaks” by Julian Assange
WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who has been in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, was under house arrest at a British estate in 2011 when he received a special visitor: Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. “When Google Met WikiLeaks” is about the meeting.
As part of Truthdig’s treatment of Assange’s account of his meeting with Google’s top brass, readers were treated to a chapter, “Censorship Is Always Cause for Celebration,” reprinted with the permission of OR Books, publisher of the book, which is available exclusively from OR Books and is copyrighted by Assange.
Click here to see an open letter to Google from Truthdig Publisher Zuade Kaufman concerning censorship.
“ ‘Beware Richard Flanagan’s new novel, ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North,’ ” Ron Charles warned Truthdig readers in his essay, adding that the tale of brutality by occupying Japanese forces in Burma during the lethally speedy construction of the Thailand-Burma Death Railway in the early 1940s didn’t exactly make for typical summer reading:
“[Flanagan’s] story about a group of Australian POWs during World War II will cast a shadow over your summer and draw you away from friends and family into dark contemplation the way only the most extraordinary books can. Nothing since Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” has shaken me like this—all the more so because it’s based on recorded history, rather than apocalyptic speculation.”
9. “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State” by Glenn Greenwald
“This is a brilliant book that you will want to pass on to that neighbor absolutely convinced that the hollowing out of liberty has made us safer. Glenn Greenwald reminds us just why The Guardian and Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in publishing the documents that Edward Snowden made available, and how outrageous it is that his effort to inform the public of attacks on our freedom has left this brave young man a hunted fugitive.”
10. “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty
Thomas Piketty was among the most frequently mentioned names of 2014—and rightfully so. Every so often, a single work does more to transform established ideas and challenge shared suppositions masquerading as capital-T Truths than the output of a whole army of theorists has been able to achieve over the course of several decades. Reviewer Steven Pearlstein suggests that we might just have this kind of animal on our hands with Piketty’s instant classic.
“Piketty’s ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ is an intellectual tour de force, a triumph of economic history over the theoretical, mathematical modeling that has come to dominate the economics profession in recent years. Piketty offers a timely and well-reasoned reminder that there is nothing inevitable about the dominance of human capital over financial capital, and that there is inherent in the dynamics of capitalism a natural and destabilizing tendency toward inequality of income, wealth and opportunity.”
—Posted by Roisin Davis
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