Utopianism is as much an enunciation of a better world as it is an enactment of one. Benjamin Kunkel's Utopia or Bust, a guide to several of the master theoreticians of the left, helps us believe in a future alternative to our present.
Economic crises get the jeremiads they deserve. More than a hundred years ago, with the labor uprisings of the Lower East Side as a backdrop, Jacob Riis published How the Other Half Lives; the 1930s saw an outpouring of writing chronicling the Depression as a betrayal of American promise; in the
As much as libertarians and liberals may now be at odds, they endorse the same foundational value. It’s right there in their names: Both political philosophies share the Latin root liber, or “free.” Liberty is a special sort of good that the two poles of American politics, and pretty much every
Anand Giridharadas's The True American operates on the seemingly provocative question of who is more American: the Bangladeshi air-force officer who immigrates to Dallas, hires on as a gas-station cashier, and dreams of working with computers; or the Bud-swilling, tatted, truck-driving, meth-blasted Texas peckerwood who shot him as "revenge" for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Which man more encapsulates the true core of American ideals? And, really, what are America's post-9/11 ideals?
A meticulous exposť of the meat industry, The Meat Racket is about more than just how big companies are ruining rural farmers. It's also more than another installment in the stomach-churning saga of the industrialization of our food supply. Christopher Leonard, whether he means to or not, is telling a broader story about American business, consumerism, and—most of all—greed.
This is a study of how authority maintains authority—and of how the subjugated stay subjugated, in ways spoken and unspoken. Oppressive structure exists not just as a matter of corporate policy but in the very architecture of the workplace—the physical boundaries within which the business of business is carried out. The genius of Cubed is that Saval recognizes the mood of barely controlled panic that suffuses most American offices, and tracks it through every element of the overmanaged, time-sucking, and keystroke-counting world of work.
To think about this strange and often darkly brilliant book, I pulled two other titles off my shelf that I haven’t looked at in a long time. The first was practical, a how-to guide: Frank and Ida Mae Hammond’s 1973 megaseller—“1,000,000+ copies in print!”—Pigs in the Parlor: A Practical Guide to
If you like the idea of efficient markets, then Bob Swarup’s Money Mania is not the book for you. Swarup, who has a Ph.D. in cosmology but has spent most of his career in the world of high finance, delivers this scabrous appraisal of those who cling to the misconception that humans are rational:
In Young Money, Kevin Roose investigates why young people still seek jobs on Wall Street even after the crash of 2008 revealed it to be a seeping moral gutter. Roose, a writer for New York magazine, is something of a specialist in reporting on publicity-averse subcultures. In 2009, he published an