Review: 935 Lies – The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity

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Charles Lewis

5.0 out of 5 stars Title Short-Changes Value — This is One of the Most Important Books of Our Time, July 12, 2014

I’m not thrilled with the title because it implies to the browser that the book is about the 935 now-documented lies that led to the war in Iraq, and that is not the case — those lies are simply one of many evidentiary cases spanned a much broader spectrum. As the author himself outlines early on, the book is about a retrospective review of the struggle for truth from the lies that led to Viet-Nam to date (less 9/11); a concurrent review of the corruption and diminuition of commercial journalism; and finally, the future of the truth.

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Jul 12

Review: The Road to Innovation

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5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Stars — The First Book to Connect All the Dots, June 29, 2014

I have decided to rate this book at “beyond five stars” for two reasons: first, because of all the books I have read on innovation, transformation, change management, and so on, this is the first one that I have found to be all inclusive — this is a capstone book, a stand-alone gem; and second, because this is the book I wanted to write in 1994 and could not. I have been waiting for a book such as this, not only for myself, but as a gift to top leaders who realize their organizations are broken and need a “booster shot” to get going on house cleaning followed by radical innovation.

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Jul 1

David Swanson: Understanding Afghanistan – New Book No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes

David Swanson

David Swanson

Everybody’s Got Afghanistan Wrong

I’ve just read an excellent new book by Anand Gopal called No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes. Gopal has spent years in Afghanistan, learned local languages, interviewed people in depth, researched their stories, and produced a true-crime book more gripping, as well as more accurate, than anything Truman Capote came up with.  Gopal’s book is like a novel that interweaves the stories of a number of characters — stories that occasionally overlap.  It’s the kind of book that makes me worry I’ll spoil it if I say too much about the fate of the characters, so I’ll be careful not to.

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The characters include Americans, Afghans allied with the U.S. occupation, Afghans fighting the U.S. occupation, and men and women trying to survive — including by shifting their loyalties toward whichever party seems least likely in that moment to imprison or kill them.  What we discover from this is not just that enemies, too, are human beings. We discover that the same human beings switch from one category to another quite easily.  The blunder of the U.S. occupation’s de-Baathification policy in Iraq has been widely discussed.  Throwing all the skilled and armed killers out of work turned out not to be the most brilliant move.  But think about what motivated it: the idea that whoever had supported the evil regime was irredeemably evil (even though Ronald Reagan and Donald Rumsfeld had supported the evil regime too — OK, bad example, but you see what I mean). In Afghanistan the same cartoonish thinking, the same falling for one’s own propaganda, went on.

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May 10

Review: STOP, THIEF! The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance

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Peter Linebaugh

5.0 out of 5 stars David Bollier’s Review is Better, This Is My Attempt, April 21, 2014

I was very impressed by David Bollier’s review of this book at his web site (look for < “Stop, Thief!” – Peter Linebaugh’s New Collection of Essays > and am encouraging him to port that excellent review here to Amazon. Indeed, after working my way through the book myself, I consider myself unable to do proper justice to this deep work that integrates history, poetry, political economy, anthropology, and sociology among other disciplines. Hence I hope others will write substantive summary reviews and I again recommend Bollier’s review above.

Three thoughts keep recurring as I went through this book of original current essays and presentations:

01 Holy Cow. This guy is DEEP and BROAD in terms of arcane as well as popular sources, delving down into little known poems, essays, public statements, etcetera. This book is the one book version of the Durant’s Story of Civilization applied to one topic, the commons.

02 Holy Cow. This is what my top political science professor was trying to explain when I was in college in 1970-1974 – yes, a half century ago — and I was just not smart enough, patient enough, to appreciate it.

03 Holy Cow. This book is not just subversive, it does a magnificent job of head slapping every politician, economists, talking head, and other pretender who presumes to talk about public welfare without for one instant understanding that wages are a form of slavery and disconnection of humanity from everything else. Lionel Tiger makes related points in The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution and the Industrial System but this book — if you focus and do not get lost in the poetry and minutia of exemplar citation — beats the commons versus capitalism drum along every possible note on the musical scale.

Among my high-level notes:

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Apr 29

Review (Guest): Governing the Commons – The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action

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Elinor Ostrom

4.0 out of 5 stars Addressing the Collective Action Problem August 2, 2007

By Matthew P. Arsenault

Ostrom attempts to refute the belief that only through state and or market-centered controls can commonly pooled resources (CPRs) be effectively governed. Ostrom writes, “Communities of individuals have relied on institutions resembling neither the state nor the market to govern some resource systems with reasonable degrees of success over long periods of time” (p. 1). Governing the Commons sets out to discover why some groups are able to effectively govern and manage CPRs and other groups fail. She tries to identify both the internal and external factors “that can impede or enhance the capabilities of individuals to use and govern CPRs.”

The first section of the book examines both state-controlled and privatization property rights regimes, and illustrates failures in both regimes; namely, that central authorities often fail to have complete accuracy of information, have only limited monitoring capabilities, and possess a weak sanctioning reliability. As such, a centralized governing body may actually govern the commons inaccurately and make a bad situation worse. In the case of privatized property rights regimes, Ostrom illustrates two main points: 1) it assumes that property is homogenous and any division of property will be equitable; and 2) privatization will not work with non-stationary property (fisheries, for example).

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Apr 28

Review: The Politics of Haunting and Memory in International Relations

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Jessica Auchter

5.0 out of 5 stars Quite Extraordinary — a Pioneering Book — Builds on Others But Original and Compelling It Its Own Right, April 27, 2014

I took an interest in books on trauma and dealing with refugees a month or so ago, and this is one of the books that I included in my list easily found online Worth a Look: Books on War and Torture Victims, Asylum and Refugee Trauma. The other book I have reviewed from that list is Peter Levine’s In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness.

The author has rendered an extraordinary work. While building on the works of others this is a pioneering book that helps open the door toward holding states [and I would add corporations] accountable for the dead [and I would add amputees]. I found this book compelling, engaging, and original.

The bulk of the book and the bulk of the value is in the literature review and the author’s conclusions. Three case studies are provided — on Rwanda where the state “erased” the victims; on illigal immigrants who die on US soil or are “exiled” into non-person status; and on 9/11 where the state and its corporate controlled media “excised” all photographs of the vicitms, particularly those who jumped to their deaths from the towers.

I’ve read a lot of academic books and dissertations, and found that the manner in which this author reviewed the works of others, and personalized that review by artful use of the names of the authors being cited in text, was for me a most professional and yet also humanizing and engaging exercise.

This is a very subversive book is you have the courage to actually contemplate holding a state accountable for both those it has killed or allowed to be killed by legalized crime and elective war and deliberate non-intervention; while also contemplating how the state relegates so many to the status of “virtual dead.” At root, this book opens a super-highway into the heart of the deep state (I would add deep corporation including those that practice eugenics), one that could inspire the living to challenge the faux legitimacy of states that are in the view of one author, Greogry Sams, long overdue for deconstruction, see his just released book that I have ordered and will review, The State Is Out of Date: We Can Do It Better.

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Apr 27

Review (Guest): Trying Not to Try – The Art and Science of Spontaneity

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Edward Slingerland

5.0 out of 5 stars Paradigm shifting look at Csikszenmihaly’s concept of flow, March 23, 2014

By Just Me

When I discovered Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s book Flow, about 10 years ago, I recognized that he was talking about a concept that I had experienced many times, that was important in my life, and that I craved. Learning about flow has helped me, but has also provided frustrations, both because of difficulties and because of a lack of greater meaning. Slingerland’s Trying Not To Try offers the solution to these problems. Slingerland compares the Western concept of flow to the Eastern concepts of wu-wei and de. Wu-wei is “the dynamic, effortless, and unselfconscious state of mind of a person who is optimally active and effective”; de is a charismatic power “that others can detect, and it serves as an outward signal that one is in wu-wei.”

Slingerland looks at early Eastern philosophy and at modern science and sees how the connections between the two explain the how and why of wu-wei and de. As Slingerland says, “A growing literature in psychology and neuroscience suggests that these (early Eastern) thinkers had a much more accurate picture of how people really think and behave than we find in recent Western philosophy or religious thought and that early Chinese debates about how to attain wu-wei reflect real tensions built into the human brain. Scientists are beginning to better appreciate the role that “fast and frugal” unconscious thinking plays in everyday human life and now have a clearer sense of why spontaneity and effectiveness hang together.” Evolutionary psychology is very helpful in explaining the “why”, which was very helpful in solving the problems that the concept of flow presented to me. Slingerland explains that, it “gives us insight into why wu-wei is so pleasant for the individual and attractive to others… It feels good to be in wu-wei because a whole slew of tasks simply can’t be performed by our plodding, conscious minds — we need to unleash the power of our fast, unconscious processes in order to get them done. Moreover, we are attracted to people in wu-wei because we trust the automatic, unconscious mind. We have a very strong intuition — increasingly confirmed by work in cognitive science — that the conscious, verbal mind is often a sneaky, conniving liar, whereas spontaneous, unselfconscious gestures are reliable indicators of what’s really going on inside another person.”

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Apr 27

Review (Guest): The Tyranny of Experts – Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor

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5.0 of 5.0 Stars Why development takes place (or doesn’t) By Mal Warwick on April 3, 2014

This book is full of surprises.

In The Tyranny of Experts, the author of the seminal book The White Man’s Burden drills down into the history of economic development around the world in search of its causes. What he finds has little to do with any of the factors bandied about among contemporary development professionals.

“The conventional approach to economic development, to making poor countries rich,” William Easterly writes, “is based on a technocratic illusion: the belief that poverty is a purely technical problem amenable to such technical solutions as fertilizers, antibiotics, or nutritional supplements . . . The technocratic approach ignores what this book will establish as the real cause of poverty — the unchecked power of the state against poor people without rights.”

Instead, Easterly maintains, the fundamental pre-condition for successful development is democracy paired with deep understanding of local history. He calls the establishment of the World Bank “the moment of original sin . . . in which the Bank disavowed the ideals of freedom . . .”

Academia has been good to William Easterly. Presumably, when he was forced out of the World Bank because of his outspoken criticism of the Bank’s support for corrupt regimes and pro-Western favoritism, he was looking for a platform on which he could continue his campaign to shift the consensus among development professionals from top-down “solutions” to support for bottom-up, grassroots initiatives. He’s gotten that platform, but his position on the faculty of New York University has also moved him to dig more deeply into the intellectual roots of his thinking. The Tyranny of Experts is one result.

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Apr 26

Review: In An Unspoken Voice – How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

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Peter A. Levine

5.0 out of 5 stars Demands Careful Reading, A Capstone Book that Emphasizes BALANCE, April 21, 2014

I read this book at the same time as Cyntia Sue Larson’s Quantum Jumps: An Extraordinary Science of Happiness and Prosperity and E. Graham Howe as edited by William Stranger, The Druid of Harley Street: The Spiritual Psychology of E. Graham Howe. In line to be read as part of this series is also Guy Muchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration of Science and Philosophy.

This is by no means an easy read but its bottom-line (bearing in mind that the author has been writing many books on this theme, this is the latest) is clear: Sound Mind in a Sound Body. Others would add Sound Soul and Sound Heart at well. In other words, the mind is carried in the host, the body, and the totality of the nervous system, the skeletal system, the muscle system, the bio-chemical soup system, are all critical to how well the mind functions and how well the mind — including the unconscious — heals in the aftermath of trauma.

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Apr 21

Review: Quantum Jumps – An Extraordinary Science of Happiness and Prosperity

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Cynthia Sue Larson

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star Mix of Consciousness and Physics – a Life-Changing Book, April 21, 2014

The author asked me to review this book, and I agreed because it comes at a good time in my 61-year long life. I have read it along with Peter Levine’s In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness and The Druid of Harley Street: The Spiritual Psychology of E. Graham Howe. Waiting to be read in this series is The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration of Science and Philosophy.

Among them all this is the 6 star special (my top 10% acorss 1,900+ non-fiction reviews), the easiest to grasp, the most meaningful for those seeking to make the leap from being trapped in a world controlled by a malevolent 1%, to a world in which we have a greater effect on ourselves and our community.

My past reading lists, all leading to Amazon, in this general area are easily found by searching for

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Conscious, Evolutionary, Integral Activism & Goodness

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Evolutionary Dynamics

What most impressed me about this book was its deep appreciation of real-world physics — it was not until the end of the book that I realized that the author was trained in this discipline and has a very healthy bibliography in that discipline included in the book. This is NOT a “kum-ba-ya” book. Indeed, physics is just now coming to grips with the reality that consciousness matters (pun intended), see the below books

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Apr 21