Books

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Ahh this book is so great to read. If you consider yourself a student of history, you can't ignore the world's greatest power, the United States. If you can't ignore the United States, then you can't really know its history without understanding how it treated American Indians, African slaves, women, unions and those who dissented from its leaders picture of manifest destiny. History should not be the story of elite groups, it should not ignore the struggle of people to claim our humanity from powerful interests, it should not recount events divorced from the context of the wider society in which they occurred, it should not gloss over uncomfortable details in the interests of patriotism, religion or any other method of control. Howard Zinn tries to right that wrong in this highly enjoyable and inspiring classic. A must read.

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Albert Einstein said of Gandhi: "Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood.". Gandhi was an extraordinarily complex man. Along with his better known qualities he was a believer in the central truth of all religions, he was a passionate vegetarian, wrote many books, was a qualified lawyer and had a fascination with his urine. Reading this book won't leave you with the impression that he was flawless, indeed he can be downright annoying and stubborn in sections of the book. What is the beautiful thing about him, the thing that set him apart from so many others, was his absolute conviction to live according to his ideals. As a London educated lawyer, a comfortable life would have been assured for him, however he could not live such a life in a world teeming with injustice, and he had the self belief that he could do something about it. In a world where compassionate ideals are dismissed as foolishness, here is a man who was prepared to stand for them to the point of great physical harm. In overcoming the British Empire's 100 year occupation of his homeland, he changed the world through his gift of an example of non violent struggle, and for this he will be remembered long after we are gone. Gandhi is one of the great men of history who succeeded against vast odds, and learning about him is a powerful tool for ones own life. "I can see in the midst of death, life persists, in the midst of untruth, truth persists, in the midst of darkness, light persists." - Mohandas K. Gandhi

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"From Puritan Pulpit to Corporate Pr". After reading Sharon Beder's awesome "Global Spin", I was an easy target for her next book. This book asks some questions about our society, that are forbidden in most of our media, both the corporate media due to self interest and our public media due to not wanting to be perceived as ideological. Why is our culture such a destructive machine, why is it that when we see the negative effects our lifestyles are having on the world, we motor on regardless, why are we working longer hours, not becoming any happier, and accepting an unequal society? It is because we have been controlled to follow a lifestyle that is often not in our own interests, we have had the way we judge ourselves and others implanted into us for very specific purposes, to ensure we are easily controlled and productive for the elites who use us for their wills. If you would like to know how this trick of societal manipulation has been accomplished, and why we ask someone upon meeting them what their job is, rather than what their hopes and dreams are, read this book. "Work Brings Freedom" - sign above entrance to Auschwitz.

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I've always been attracted to the freedom and responsibility of the individual inherent in anarchism as a political philosophy. It was my readings of Noam Chomsky and interviews he'd given on anarchism that first made me identify as an anarchist. Still, as someone who considers themself as a democrat might never have heard of the demos in Athens, I wasn't really aware of the history of anarchism and the thinkers who had contributed to it over time.

Wandering aimlessly in Waterstone's bookshop in Gower St London, this title jumped out at me as something which might fill in the gaps of my understanding of anarchism. It was almost not so much to deepen my understanding of anarchism that I wanted to read it, but so that I might understand the totality of what was meant when I used the term.

The book is long, the print is small, this is not a tome for those with short attention spans. It rambles on in a strange course as well, tempting one to wonder whether the meaning of anarchy as disorder was a guiding principle in its development, but it was navigable and I made it through. Perhaps on rereading this book, as I intend to do, I'll understand better why it is laid out as it is.

Anarchism as a word comes from the ancient Greek, but being espoused in its modern sense as a political philosophy only began with the Frenchman Proudhon in the first half of the 19th century. The book however goes back in history looking for people that could be called anarchists. It is roughly laid out chronologically wandering from the ancient Greeks, Taoists and Buddhists, on through anarchist religious sects in the middle ages such as the Divine Heresy, onto the intellectual founders of modern anarchism, Godwin and Proudhon, onto the times when anarchists assassinated heads of state in the 1890s and essentially destroyed anarchism as a valid political philosophy for decades, then to the anarchist communities in Spain crushed by the fascism in the 1930s and finally the more modern anarchists of the latter 20th century. There are also many chapters discussing various aspects of anarchism and bringing together, often repeating, parts from the sections about individual anarchists.

If you are interested in Anarchism, and wonder what people like Bakunin, Oscar Wilde, Tolstoy, Gandhi and Chomsky said about it, you are going to find it in this book and much more. If you want to be challenged intellectually this book will do that at every turn. Get rid of states, remove prisons, let people organise their own work, the theories set out in this book are as radical as it gets. It informed my anarchism, made me aware of everything represented by that term, and left me more committed to the ideals of anarchism as a guiding force for the development of the individual into our future.

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