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Atlantic Free Press Book Reviews
Book Reviews from Atlantic Free Press Writers and Bloggers 


Sun

02

Nov

2008

"Zionism, Militarism, and the Decline of US Power" - Book Review by Stephen Lendman
Sunday, 02 November 2008 14:26
by Stephen Lendman

James Petras is Binghamton University Professor Emeritus of Sociology. His credentials and achievements are long and impressive as a noted academic figure on the left. A well-respected Latin American expert, and a longtime chronicler of the region's popular struggles.

He's also a prolific author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, including his latest titled "Zionism, Militarism, and the Decline of US Power" and subject of this review. It follows from his earlier 2006 book: "The Power of Israel in the United States" that documented the Israeli Lobby's enormous influence over US Middle East policy and its destructive effects.

Petras continues the story in his latest book. Asks is Israel good for America, and responds by exposing and critiquing American Zionism. Its powerfully destructive influence. Its stranglehold on US politics, academia, the media, clergy, and over all segments of society voicing dissent. He debunks the notion that the Israeli Lobby is like all others and provides convincing evidence of its influence and veto power over war and peace, trade and investment, multi-billion dollar arms sales, and all Middle East policy issues under Democrat and Republican administrations alike.

Every Petras book is important. So is this one at a time the most powerful Washington Lobby is assured that a new administration will continue and expand the current "Global Wars on Terrorism." Petras explains the dangers. The current disastrous foreign adventurism. America's economic decline as a result, and the calamitous global fallout overall. High-level officials won't read this book, but they should. To realize the dangers of their destructive policies. How they threaten the republic's survival and are heading the nation for insolvency and ruin.
 

Sun

02

Nov

2008

JFK And The Unspeakable - Book Review by Mike Palecek
Sunday, 02 November 2008 12:08
by Mike Palecek

I waited my whole life to read James W. Douglass’ new book, “JFK And The Unspeakable.”

The wait was not worth it.

I should not have had to wait, at all.

This is supposed to be America, but it is not.

That is why I was made to wait.

Americans should not have to wait.

We like to have it right now. We want what we want when we want it.

Now.

Please.

Sister Ellen walked into our third grade classroom, hands tucked neatly into the opposite brown sleeve.

She was the principal at Sacred Heart elementary, and she only came to the classrooms to announce that the poorest kid in our class and his large family had run off a bridge this morning on the way to school, or lead us down to the gym for the Christmas movie and extra chocolate milk.
 

Sun

02

Nov

2008

Verdict of History on Bush Will be Harsh, Author Says
Sunday, 02 November 2008 11:02
by Sherwood Ross

The judgment of history may well be that the United States has been “taken into, and kept in, the Iraq War by a guy who is not quite right in his head,” a distinguished legal scholar says.

“It may take 25 or 50 years, but it is almost certain that one day this character will be exhibit number one for the danger of having a nut job in the oval office,” says Lawrence Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.

Writing in his latest book, “An Enemy of the People,”(Doukathsan Press) Velvel said, “In everyday life, someone who refuses to recognize the actual facts of the world around him, and who instead lives in a dream world in his head, is regarded as not being sane, as being, to use the blunt words, insane or crazy. Why is it different when it is a national leader who refuses to recognize facts in the world and instead lives in a dream world in his head?”

Velvel goes on to say, “Most interesting is the idea that Bush suffers from a condition called ‘dry drunk’. Essentially, this means that even if one eventually stops drinking, as Bush did, years of alcoholism cause irreversible damage to brain chemistry. Results of this damage include such Bushian traits as rigid judgmentalism, irritability, impatience, grandiosity, obsessive thought patterns, incoherent speech and other unlovely characteristics.”

“Bush also seems to have chacteristics,” Velvel continues, “that, whether or not they are characteristic of ‘dry drunks’ are symptomatic of people who don’t fully have a grip. These include immense anger, exploitativeness, arrogance, lack of empathy, and difficulties arising from relationships with one’s father.”

“With regard to the specific analyses of Bush, there seems to be wide agreement that Bush is a sociopath, defined, one gathers, as someone who feels no empathy with others, who cannot feel for others, who does not feel or care for their pain (to use Clintonian jargon,”) Velvel writes.
 

Sun

02

Nov

2008

Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied: the Rape of Palestine - Book Review by Jim Miles
Sunday, 02 November 2008 09:28
by Jim Miles

Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied: the Rape of Palestine. William A. Cook. EXPATHOS, Groningen, Netherlands, 2008.

The cover of Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied: the Rape of Palestine tells a significant story on its own: from a Palestine of green dotted with a few Jewish settlements, mainly in the north, transiting through the UN partition plan designation and the 1967 war to what is now the reverse - a small strip of green on the coast at Gaza, and a small sprinkling of isolated green bantustan communities huddled in the middle of Israel. The Jewish community in Israel has been very successful in their ongoing purpose to achieve dominion over all the lands of Palestine. They have achieved this by abrogating and denying almost every international law that has been established to govern how one group of people should interact with another in times of peace and war, but mostly war.

Of the many themes supported in William Cook’s powerful book, the most frequently reiterated is that of the corruption, abuse, and plain denial of international law. Combined with other themes, Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied sends out a very clear message: that the Palestinians live under the control of one of the most brutal regimes in our current world. Certainly there are other despotic regimes in the world, but Israel seems unique in that it presents a façade of democracy and freedom, a thin shellac over the fully repressive measures it uses against the Palestinian population both within Israel (wherever ‘in’ might be with its undefined borders) and in the West Bank and Gaza.

The double standards and hypocrisy between what Israel tries to present itself as (a bastion of democracy in a hostile world of terror) and what it actually practices (the subjugation and terrorizing of the Palestinian people) is probably the next most common theme in the work. Both themes are greatly strengthened by the current unconditional support provided the United States that carries its own similar double standards about democracy, terror, and freedom, and its own complete denial of international law. 
 

Mon

27

Oct

2008

Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush - Book Review by Richard G. Kastelein
Monday, 27 October 2008 17:32
by Richard G. Kastelein

With wit and wisdom, Walter M. Brasch digs deep into the Bush–Cheney Administration and extracts the truth of the past eight years. In Sinking the Ship of State (2nd ed.), a well-documented 550-page book, Brasch looks at innumerable political and social issues, including violations of six Constitutional amendments, well-established federal law, and international treaties. He also looks at media performance since 2000, and the current campaign for the presidency.

Sinking the Ship of State has been named Best Non-Fiction book by the Pennsylvania Press Club, and was a finalist in the politics category for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Brasch’s hard-hitting reporting, as presented within Sinking the Ship of State, with significant annotation and new information never before published, broke new and important information about weapons of mass destruction, the invasion of Iraq, the attack upon civil liberties, the nation’s inability to deal with terrorism, and its vulnerability to natural disasters. Brasch reports upon a secret meeting in the White House in which Bush Administration officials showed members of Congress photos of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Brasch interviewed several of those present at that meeting and used a plethora of documents to conclude that the photos may have been faked, and that the Administration willfully and deliberately gave incorrect information to members of Congress and the public.
 

Sun

26

Oct

2008

The Duel – Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power - Book Review by Jim Miles
Sunday, 26 October 2008 02:26
 by Jim Miles

The Duel – Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power. Tariq Ali. Scribner (Simon & Schuster Inc.) New York, 2008.

Pakistan is becoming more and more important in the news media (excepting the current scares with the financial markets) and its interactions with the Taliban are becoming more prominently known. Predator drones have been used more frequently in the Northwest Frontier Provinces and the almost semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas, both consisting mainly of the Pashtun, a people divided by the artificial and not fully recognized Durrand Line that forms the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. These same people compose a significant per centage of the military forces in Pakistan.

What is not true is that these areas are fully in the Taliban camp, and recent and historical electoral votes indicate a strong secular sentiment with the voters (recognizing within that secularity that Pakistan is officially a Muslim state). An unauthorized U.S. led military assault on September third into South Waziristan killed twenty civilians When reports come in later about both the Taliban and the Pakistan military forces firing warning shots at American helicopters heading towards Pakistani territory, the reality of future possibilities should the U.S. continue its incursions into Pakistani territory become quite frightening.
 

Thu

09

Oct

2008

Reviewing Danny Schechter's "Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity and the Subprime Scandal"
Thursday, 09 October 2008 03:06
by Stephen Lendman

Danny Schechter is a media activist, critic, independent filmmaker, TV producer as well as an author of 10 books and lecturer on media issues. Some call him "The News Dissector," and that's the name of his popular blog on media issues. He's also co-founder of Media Channel.org. It covers the "political, cultural and social impacts of the media," and provides information unavailable in the mainstream.

Schechter's books include Media Wars; Embedded - weapons of Mass Deception; The Death of Media; The More You Watch The Less You Know; and his newest and subject of this review, Plunder. Subtitled: Investigating Our Economic Calamity and the Subprime Scandal, Schechter examines the fallout from the current economic and financial crisis. What the mainstream media (MSM) suppresses:
— decades of wealth transfers to the rich;

— the economy in recession;

— the result of multiple imploding bubbles: housing, mortgage finance, and an alphabet soup of SDOs, SIVs, SPVs, and a whole menu of levered-up, high-risk securitized assets amounting to financial alchemy; largely outright fraud;

— the risk things may worsen;

— from drowning in debt and speculative excess;

— bankrupt by some measures;

— huge amounts of corruption;

— government hiding how bad it is; complicit in it as well;

— over one million homeowners foreclosed since summer 2007;

— another million are 90 days past due on payments; foreclosures about to go out on them;

— three million more potentially in coming months with up to five million total at risk over the next few years in the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression and too little government help provided too late;

— rising unemployment;

— failing banks;

— rising inflation; and

— consumers maxed out on credit and strapped by indebtedness the way Schechter portrayed them in his 2006 film titled "In Debt We Trust."


 

Sun

14

Sep

2008

CPR For Dummies: Mouth-to-Mouth Fiction - An interview with Mickey Z
Sunday, 14 September 2008 11:19
by Gregory Elich

[Q] I've just finished reading your latest book, CPR for Dummies, and what a wild ride it was. Although you've written much fiction, you’re generally known almost solely for your political works. What avenues does fiction allow you to express that aren't so easily done in political analysis?


[A] When readers approach a book labeled “novel,” they are usually expecting some sense of entertainment...not overt education. So that allows me to tell a story, to screw around with format, to depict events without factoring in a non-fiction reader’s skepticism and desire for documentation. If I have something to say, I can put those words into the mouth of any character I choose and expect that these words will be received and perceived within the context of the story. A parable can often be more influential than a dissertation.

[Q] Your approach to format is playful. There is a story that runs through the book as a main thread, but it is often interrupted by another story, which is in turn interrupted by another. In that regard, it is somewhat reminiscent of The Saragossa Manuscript. Interspersed are true stories from your past and quizzes for the reader. In part, I think the structure is an attempt to portray the simultaneity of events. Why did you choose this format for your book?

[A] Yeah, the non-linear approach appeals to me - as you say - due to the simultaneity of events and also because it's playful, maybe even “disrespectful” of the form. I used flashbacks, diary entries, first person interludes, and related vignettes to deconstruct the classic novel format in the way Jackson Pollock shattered painterly illusions. Still, the specific way CPR for Dummies came about is pretty funny. A few years ago, when some of the regulars on my blog - a.k.a the Expendables - decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month, I joined in and devotedly banged out 50,000 words in 30 days. For me, this required some serious cutting and pasting from several of my unpublished novels and non-fiction books, unproduced screenplays, and even some of my published work. These odds and ends were combined with brand new material and, with a few edits, additions, and redecoration, I had my novel...although calling it a “novel” is like using the word film to describe something Andy Warhol shot.
 

Fri

12

Sep

2008

Racing the Enemy – Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan. (Book Review by Jim Miles)
Friday, 12 September 2008 01:11
by Jim Miles

Racing the Enemy – Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa. Belknap Press, Harvard University, 2005.

The end of the Second World War with Japan is a story of the clashes of three empires – the struggling Soviets, the decline of the Japanese, and the ascendancy of the American.  The common media perception is that the use of the atomic bombs ended the war, and while that is part of the picture, it misses several other nuances that played critical roles in the ending of the war.  Tsuyoshi Hasegawa in his work Racing the Enemy provides a history of the critical months of the summer of 1945 that demonstrates the culpability of all three empires leading to the use of these weapons of mass destruction.  It also serves as a story of the empirical elites working towards their own advantage, regardless of outcomes for others.

It is the idea of the atomic bomb itself that creates an unusual image of immense destruction, as the U.S., Britain, and Germany had all used mass carpet bombings to try and force the opposition to quit the war.  The overall result in all affected areas was a stiffening resolve against the perpetrators of the other side (a lesson not yet learned in Iraq and Afghanistan).  Incendiary bombings had already obliterated several cities and hundreds of thousands of lives before the atomic bomb became operational (Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo).  According to Hasegawa, while the Japanese were impressed by the power of the bomb, its actual destructiveness and its threatening power were not the main reasons for ending the war.
 

Thu

28

Aug

2008

A Doctor in Galilee – The Life and Struggle of a Palestinian in Israel - Book Review by Jim Miles
Thursday, 28 August 2008 00:38
by Jim Miles
“A Doctor in Galilee” is a wonderfully descriptive narrative of life and times in Palestine/Israel. Clearly written, with a mix of personal anecdotes, historical tales, and much in the way of a reality based philosophy of a people living under an occupying force that treats them distinctly as a lesser ‘other’. The emotional impact is powerful as Hatim Kanaaneh uses basic descriptors to transport the reader into a world consisting of family, friends, hope and persistence on one side, and racism, prejudice, discrimination, manipulation, and apartheid on the other.

Hatim Kanaaneh is now a retired Doctor, a profession that through his work liaisons with the Israeli Health Ministry provides a deeper and more personal look at the more subtle manipulations and racism that underlie the overt acts of land confiscation, road blocks, and military occupation that the usual narratives concentrate on. It is hard to put the book into one theme, one word, as the author best defines his own theme:

The major theme of the book revolves around the politics of dispossession and the nature of Israel’s majority-minority ‘coexistence’ as it plays out in the life of Arrabeh and similar communities and as experienced and recorded by me in real time.
 

Sun

17

Aug

2008

Colombia, Laboratory of Witches: Democracy and State Terrorism
Sunday, 17 August 2008 22:40
by James Petras

Hernando Calvo Ospina’s recent book, Colombia, Laboratorio de Embrujos: Democracia y Terrorismo del Estado is the most important study of Colombian politics in recent decades and essential reading in light of the Western media’s and politicians’ celebration of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Calvo Ospina’s study provides a wealth of historical and empirical data that highlights Colombia’s peculiar combination of electoral politics characteristic of a Western capitalist democracy and the permanent purge of civil and political society characteristic of totalitarian dictatorships.

Unlike most Latin American countries, Colombia has never experienced the modernization of its political system. Since the 19th century Liberal and Conservative parties run by urban and rural oligarchies have controlled the political process through violence and patronage.
 

Sun

17

Aug

2008

The ‘Empire of Chaos’ or living in the age of impunity - Book Review by William Bowles
Sunday, 17 August 2008 14:17
by William Bowles

International Justice and Impunity - The Case of the United States

Impunity: N. Nonliability, exemption, let-out, immunity, special treatment. Impunity: Vb. Exempt, set apart, absolve, grant immunity, are just some of the descriptions my Roget’s Thesaurus lists for the word impunity.

Other descriptions listed by the Thesaurus are perhaps even more apt:

Owe no responsibility, be free from, have no liability, spare oneself the necessity, exempt oneself, excuse oneself, the list goes on…
“The American ambassador to the United Nations in the middle of the 1970s, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has thus congratulated himself in his memoirs, for having rendered “totally ineffective, on the instructions of the State Department, all measures taken by the United Nations [with regard to the 40-plus UN resolutions on Palestine]”. — ‘Rudolph El-Kareh, The American Politic in the Middle East, Force, Impunity, Lawlessness.’ (p.64)

 

Sun

17

Aug

2008

Francis Boyle's "Palestine Palestinians and International Law" Book Review by Stephen Lendman
Sunday, 17 August 2008 12:06
by Stephen Lendman

Francis Boyle is a distinguished University of Illinois law professor, activist, and internationally recognized expert on international law and human rights. He also lectures widely, writes extensively, and authored many books, including the subject of this review: "Palestine Palestinians and International Law." In addition, he's represented, advised and/or testified pro bono in numerous cases involving anti-war protesters and activists, the death penalty, human rights, war crimes and genocide, nuclear policy and bio-warfare, Canada's Blackfoot Nation, the Nation of Hawaii, and the US Lakota Nation.

Boyle is currently a leading proponent of an effort to impeach George Bush, Dick Cheney and other administration figures for their crimes of war, against humanity and other grievous violations of domestic and international law. Earlier in 1987 he was the Palestinian Liberation Organization's (PLO) legal advisor in the drafting of its 1988 Declaration of Independence. Then from 1991 - 1993, he served in the same capacity for the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations in the run-up to the Oslo process.

Palestine Palestinians and International Law reviews his work during that period, prior 1980s and earlier events that led to it, and what followed in its aftermath. Like all Boyle's work, it's rich in international law and makes a powerful, easy to follow case for Palestinian self-determination. Relevant events and the law are reviewed:

— from the 1922 League of Nations Mandate;

— to the 1947 UN Partition Plan;

— to the 1987 first Intifada;

— to the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence;

— to around 130 nations diplomatically recognizing the Palestinian state;

— to the UN granting Palestine all rights as a member state except to vote;

— to Oslo's betrayal;

— to the second Intifada and shortly thereafter over the book's timeline through 2002.
 
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