Book Review, Culture

Brilliant Materialist Interpretation of Modern European History

Eric Hobsbawm’s four-volume survey of European history from the French Revolution to the Fall of the Eastern Bloc is the premier materialist text of its generation. While giving solid notice to culture and politics, Hobsbawm’s first interest is in the movements of economics and production, and how these tides shaped the broader history of the period.

Readable, engaging, fast-paced – an indispensable survey of the past two centuries.

Just released in audio format – click here 

Plenty of used paperbacks – click here

Kermode’s reading is solid – but the audio quality is poor. Tantor usually does better – how about a remix?

Still – five stars for this extraordinary book!

Painting: Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People

Delacroix-LibertyLeading

Book Review, Culture

History of California – Kevin Starr

This pleasant but superficial overview looks at California history from today’s perspective – it’s not a recounting of everything that happened, but of those things that “had to happen in order that California become what it is today.”

Audible Audiobook | Amazon

While useful as an organizing tool, this vantage point tends to give the book a triumphalist tone, where whatever negative events happened were necessary in order for California to fulfill it’s (American capitalist) destiny.

The book is strongest on issues like the development of the water infrastructure, where it recounts in detail how the North and South halves of the state grappled with this thorny issue. Chapters on the growth of San Francisco and Los Angeles, including a quick history of automobile traffic, are solid and entertaining.

Starr offers good coverage of early politics, including land-grabs and railroad scams. But he scants the role of the original Peoples of the regions – presumably because they were not strictly necessary to the destiny of the state.

Likewise, he gives a good, quick survey of architecture – but scarcely mentions that the raw materials were obtained virtually for free by decimating the redwood forests, with unforeseeable environmental impacts on today’s California.

Perhaps most offensive is his celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge as a masterpiece comparable to the Parthenon. Given that over 1000 people have committed suicide from the bridge, we’re left wondering what exactly constitutes a Californian masterpiece?

Three stars for Kevin Starr – with hopes that a more thorough and balanced history of the state is recorded soon.

Wix-KevinStarrCalifornia-Cover

 

Book Review, Satires

The Hardy Girls – Luke Hauser’s Latest!

Update: Volume 2 is on the way! Due Summer 2020: The Mystery of the Derailed Train.

Direct Action author Luke Hauser, writing under as Dixie W. Franklin, has released Volume 1 of The Hardy Girls Mystery Series.”

The Mystery of Rafferty’s Farm

Join Francesca and Josephine Hardy as they set out to solve their first mystery!

Frank and Joe Hardy, former teen detectives, have been retired since their youthful sleuthing wiped out all crime in Bayport. But now a new generation of criminal is back – and it’s up the the Hardy Girls to crack the case, while avoiding parental scrutiny and staying one step ahead of bumbling police chief Oscar Smuff.

The Hardy Girls’ mystery series walks that fine line between fan fiction, social satire, and a rip-roaring kids’ chapter book.

Available in print, downloadable book-formatted PDF, or read online.

Visit their new website: hardygirls01.wordpress.com

Book Review, Culture, Economics

Marx’ Capital – New Audio Version

More economics satires & musings by Luke Hauser

Capital Volume I: A Critique of Political Economy

by Karl Marx | Read by Derek Le Page

Audio Recording Via Audible

Capital is one of the half-dozen most important economic texts of the past 200 years – and perhaps the most readable. Volume One contains the key material. How great to settle into a good reading.

Marx takes the labor theory of value as developed by Adam Smith and others and shows its implications for workers, managers, and owners – a worthy goal, and critical reading for anyone interested in economics regardless of your outlook.

No, Marx can’t “prove” that labor is the basis of all economic value. That’s because you Continue reading “Marx’ Capital – New Audio Version”