Here’s the latest on films, books, and music you may have missed.
Glass House by Brian Alexander (St. Martin’s). This outstanding piece of reporting should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand what has happened to America’s working class, especially in small industrial towns. The author, a native of Lancaster, Ohio, returned to his hometown to report in detail on how the factories there were looted by Wall Street speculators, leaving families and communities in ruins, contributing to the rapid spread of opioid abuse, and driving voters to support anyone they think might challenge the corporate and political establishment.
Is Everyone Really Equal? by Ozlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo (Teachers College Press). A useful guide explains concepts such as prejudice, discrimination, oppression, privilege, and white supremacy and answers objections that are often raised when these ideas are discussed.
The Castle Cross The Magnet Carter by Kia Corthron (Seven Stories). A playwright and writer for the TV series “The Wire” has written her first novel, bringing together the lives of two white brothers from a small town in Alabama and two black brothers from small-town Maryland, with a backdrop of American history from World War II through the civil rights movement to the present decade.
The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein (Liveright). Housing segregation by race in America came about not just from actions of banks, real estate companies, and other private interests but also from deliberate policies of the federal, state, and local governments, which now have a responsibility to repair the damage.
Land on Fire by Gary Ferguson (Timber Press). Major changes in public policy will be needed to deal with the more frequent and more intense wildfires that are now a fact of life in the West due to climate change, decades of fire suppression, and other factors.
Complete Stories by Kurt Vonnegut (Seven Stories). A complete collection of his 97 short stories includes some that have never been published before.
Our Unions, Our Selves by Anne Zacharias-Walsh (ILR/Cornell). Women workers in Japan and the U.S. met over a period of years to exchange experiences with creating their own organizations to confront work-related issues.
The Package King by Joe Allen. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the historic national strike by 185,000 UPS workers that directly confronted the destruction of good jobs in America by corporate greed. This history by an author who worked at UPS for nearly a decade sheds useful light on the economy as a whole as he traces worker organizing against the giant company’s strategies to squeeze more from its labor forces.
Faster, Smarter, Greener by Venkat Sumantran, Charles Fine, and David Gonsalvez (MIT). Auto industry insiders give their view of major changes that are coming in how cars and transportation systems operate, driven by corporate profit seeking without public input or policy planning.
A Foodie’s Guide to Capitalism by Eric Holt-Gimenez (Monthly Review Press). Many food activists focus mainly on genetic engineering, pesticide use, and the need for organic farming, but the director of Food First goes further, also looking at issues regarding land control and use; impacts related to race, class, and gender; the role of Wall Street; and much more.
Re-Imagining Change by Patrick Reinsborough and Doyle Canning (PM Press). Successful campaigns for social and economic justice require reframing and countering the stories that corporate forces have told us. This new edition includes updated case studies. As the authors acknowledge, the book contains a lot of jargon, but many of the underlying concepts will prove useful to a variety of activists.
Awake. On-the-scene footage brings alive the native-led resistance to the North Dakota Pipeline at Standing Rock in a way that news coverage never did, contrasting the commitment of the “water protectors” with the government violence against them on behalf of the company. The film is affordable to buy or rent, with all proceeds going to Indigenous Media Fund and the Pipeline Fighters Fund.
Tribal Justice. The Yurok Tribe in northern California has created a successful system of criminal justice focused on healing and on reconnecting both adult and juvenile offenders to community and family support, rather than on punishment and isolation. This documentary focuses on their efforts and on the desire of the Quechan Tribe in southern California to follow their example. In each case, a woman from the tribe has become the chief judge and is working to help undo the legacy of social damage left by the appropriation of tribal lands and the deliberate destruction of traditional culture.
Sacred Cod. As a result of overfishing and climate change, the supply of cod off New England has dropped to less than 4 percent of levels needed for sustainability. Following the apparently successful example of the government of Newfoundland, which banned cod fishing to let the species rebuild, the U.S. government has drastically limited cod quotas. As this hour-long documentary shows, many fishermen facing loss of income and cultural identity have responded by rejecting the scientific data and taking out their anger on “federal regulations,” not on the fossil fuel companies and corporate special interests that have blocked climate action.
The Stopover. An intense feature film, focused on three French women who are completing a tour of duty as soldiers in Afghanistan, shows what war actually involves in a way that few “war movies” ever do.
White Sun. Civil war has done enduring damage to social bonds in the tiny village in Nepal that is the setting for this poignant and expertly crafted feature film. Will the adults be able to learn from their children to transcend the conflict?
Inch’Allah. A Canadian doctor commuting from Jerusalem to serve her Palestinian clinic patients in the West Bank begins to see the world from her patients’ increasingly desperate perspective in this feature film.
Dark Matter by Randy Newman (Nonesuch). The songwriter who once produced refreshingly quirky albums like Sail Away, Good Old Boys, and Little Criminals is back with songs about Putin, a debate between science and religion, a conversation between Jack and Bobby Kennedy, and more.
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