1. Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, by Chris Hedges (Nation Books)
Revolutions come in waves and cycles. We are again riding the crest of a revolutionary epic, much as in 1848 or 1917, from the Arab Spring to movements against austerity in Greece to the Occupy movement. In “Wages of Rebellion,” Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges—who has chronicled the malaise and sickness of a society in terminal moral decline in his books “Empire of Illusion” and “Death of the Liberal Class”—investigates what social and psychological factors cause revolution, rebellion and resistance. Drawing on an ambitious overview of prominent philosophers, historians and literary figures, he shows not only the harbingers of a deep crisis but also the nascent seeds of rebellion. Hedges’ message is clear: Popular uprisings in the United States and around the world are inevitable in the face of environmental destruction and wealth polarization.
Focusing on the stories of rebels from around the world and throughout history, Hedges investigates what it takes to be a rebel in modern times. Utilizing the work of Reinhold Niebuhr, Hedges describes the motivation that guides the actions of rebels as “sublime madness”—the state of passion that causes the rebel to engage in an unavailing fight against overwhelmingly powerful and oppressive forces. For Hedges, resistance is carried out not for its success, but as a moral imperative that affirms life. Those who rise up against the odds will be those endowed with this “sublime madness.”
From South African activists who dedicated their lives to ending apartheid to contemporary anti-fracking protests in Alberta, Canada, to whistleblowers in pursuit of transparency, “Wages of Rebellion” shows the cost of a life committed to speaking the truth and demanding justice. Hedges has penned an indispensable guide to rebellion.
Find out more about “Wages of Rebellion” here.
2. They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy, by Robert Scheer (Nation Books)
Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer’s new book is a groundbreaking exposé of how government agencies and tech corporations monitor virtually every aspect of our lives, and a fierce defense of privacy and democracy.
The revelation that the government has access to a vast trove of personal online data demonstrates that we already live in a surveillance society. But the erosion of privacy rights extends far beyond big government. Intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency and CIA are using Silicon Valley corporate partners as their data spies. Seemingly progressive tech companies are joining forces with snooping government agencies to create a brave new world of wired tyranny.
Life in the digital age poses an unprecedented challenge to our constitutional liberties, which guarantee a wall of privacy between the individual and the government. The basic assumption of democracy requires the ability of the individual to experiment with ideas and associations within a protected zone, as secured by the Constitution. The unobserved moment embodies the most basic of human rights, yet it is being squandered in the name of national security and consumer convenience.
In an exclusive excerpt, available here, Scheer traces the Fourth Amendment’s enshrinement of privacy rights from English common law to Facebook and a defense by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
3. Trade Is War: The West’s War Against the World, by Yash Tandon (OR Books)
In this book, Tandon—a Ugandan expert on international relations, politics and economics—argues that the “soft power” exerted by international powers through economic channels is anything but soft, and that free trade (or the refusal to adopt free trade policies) leads to physical violence, especially for poorer countries. To make his case, Tandon draws on his extensive understanding of the global south and his hands-on experience advising African leaders on trade agreements.
In what was an exclusive excerpt, Tandon describes how nongovernmental organizations and big agricultural corporations team up to override local agricultural custom, often at the expense of farmers.
4. Gratitude, by Oliver Sacks (Knopf Doubleday)
It’s the rare person who counts his blessings upon learning he’s “face to face with dying.” But Oliver Sacks did just that, writes reviewer Heller McAlpin.
“In January, Sacks, the neurologist and author of books such as Awakenings (1973) and ‘Musicophilia’ (2007), was diagnosed with terminal cancer. During the months before his death in August, Sacks wrote a series of heart-rending yet ultimately uplifting essays. In them, he shared his thoughts about how he wished to live out his days and about his feelings on dying. Collected in a beautiful little volume, ‘Gratitude’ is a lasting gift to readers. …
“His innate scientific curiosity was aroused even by his own illness. Yet unlike other writers who have reported from the front lines of mortality, Sacks did not focus on his illness, his medical ordeal or spirituality, but on ‘what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life—achieving a sense of peace within oneself.’
“Sacks not only achieved that peace but managed to convey it beautifully in these essays. He found positive ways to think about everything, including his growing frailty: Perhaps, he suggests in the book’s final pages, he was in the Sabbath of his life, ‘when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.’ His tender book leaves readers with a similar sense of tranquility and, indeed, gratitude.”
5. Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History … and Our Future! by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl (City Lights Publishers)
For reviewer Elaine Elinson, “ ‘Rad American Women A-Z’ is an alphabet book with a difference. Though each page illustrates a different letter—starting with A, for Angela Davis, and ending with Z, for Zora Neale Hurston—and the graphics are bright and engaging, the lives depicted have long been left out of children’s history books. They are scientists, poets, pilots and activists from a wide range of backgrounds and historic eras. Half are women of color. They all persevered against challenging odds. …
“My hope is that many young readers will wander into their local library, find this book and be just as inspired as I was by those orange-covered biography series so many decades ago. But I’m hedging my bets and getting this invaluable book for all the girls—and boys—I know.”
Read the review here.
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