Sunday, April 15, 2007

April 15, 2007 – What I am Currently Reading

As if you care, eh? Whatever. Here's my list anyway, along with some shameless cribs from the and the AK Press descriptions.

Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor
“In this revealing study of a Southside Chicago neighborhood, sociologist Venkatesh opens a window on how the poor live. Focusing on domestics, entrepreneurs, hustlers, preachers and gangs linked in an underground economy that 'manages to touch all households,' the book reveals how residents struggle between 'their desires to live a just life and their needs to make ends meet as best they can.' In this milieu, African-American mechanics, painters, hairdressers, musicians and informal security guards are linked to prostitutes, drug dealers, gun dealers and car thieves in illegal enterprises that even police and politicians are involved in, though not all are criminals in the usual sense. Storefront clergy, often dependent 'on the underground for their own livelihood,' serve as mediators and brokers between individuals and gang members, who have 'insinuated themselves—and their drug money—into the deepest reaches of the community.' Although the book's academic tenor is occasionally wearying, Venkatesh keeps his work vital and poignant by using the words of his subjects, who are as dependent on this intricate web as they are fearful of its dangers.”
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

Durruti in the Spanish Revolution
“In this new and unabridged translation of the definitive biography of Spanish revolutionary and military strategist, Buenaventura Durruti, Abel Paz has given us much more than an account of a single man's life. Durruti in the Spanish Revolution is as much the chronicle of an entire nation and of a tumultuous historical era. Paz seamlessly weaves intimate biographical details of Durruti's life—his progression from factory worker and father to bank robber, political exile and, eventually, revolutionary leader—with extensive historical background, behind-the-scenes governmental intrigue, and blow-by-blow accounts of major battles and urban guerrilla warfare. Written with a thorough and sympathetic understanding of the anarchist ideals that motivated Durruti, this is an amazing and exhaustive study of an incredible man and his life-long fight against totalitarianism in both its capitalist and Stalinist forms.
Includes an afterword by José Luis Gutierréz Molina's on Abel Paz's life and the historiography of the Spanish Revolution.” From the AK Press' promo summary blurb.

Stalin: A Biography
“Stalin has ascended to an equal plane with Hitler in the pantheon of world-class monsters and mass murderers. Yet, perhaps due to the relative unavailability of primary-source material, much of Stalin's life and his motivations remained a mystery. But recently released Soviet archival material, of which this fascinating and unsettling biography takes full advantage, has shed new light. Service, an esteemed scholar of Russian and Soviet history, does not minimize Stalin's crimes or absolve him of responsibility for the horrors of the Soviet era. He makes clear that Stalin, from his youth, was a 'damaged' personality with a propensity for brutality against both friend and foe. But, as Service convincingly illustrates, this monster was a human who could write sensitive poetry, dote on family members, and inspire loyalty. Furthermore, the paranoia that permeated the reign of Stalin and led to the Great Terror descended not from Stalin but from an adherence to a pseudoreligion that encouraged followers to shape, even twist, their perceptions of reality to conform to absolute truth. A necessary reappraisal.” Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association.

Ice Rocket Tags: , ,

Technorati tags:, ,

No comments: