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In Praise of Barbarians: Essays Against Empire
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In Praise of Barbarians: Essays Against Empire

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  85 ratings  ·  17 reviews
The author of "City of Quartz" and "Planet of Slums" attacks the current fashion for empires and white men's burdens in this blistering collection of radical essays. He skewers contemporary idols such as Mel Gibson, Niall Ferguson, and Howard Dean; unlocks some secret doors in the Pentagon and the California prison system; visits "Star Wars" in the Arctic and vigilantes on ...more
ebook, 344 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by Haymarket Books
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I have read several things by Mike Davis, mostly Urban Theory, but lately I have been branching out. He is an incredible writer, thinker and social critic. Leave it to say, nothing I read here surprised me, believing completely that America is an empire on the decline. But I still got really pissed when I read the essays. He skewers a lot of "sacred American stuff" and leaves you with an ugly taste in your mouth for America and her ruling class. Here is the final paragraph from the Afterword: In ...more
Apr 01, 2008 Josh rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Socialists, Californians, and Anti-Imperialists
Recommended to Josh by: ak press
Mike Davis is an old-school, die-hard US socialist who has been causing trouble for over 40 years now, this book is a great collection of his work since late 2001 though it is not anywhere as much about the Roman Empire or barbarians (in the classical sense) as I thought. Davis titles and a few epigraphs evocative of Roman history-- Romans at Home, Legions at War, The Unease in Gaul, Dark Water Rising, and Old Flames -- to discuss US politics, the US war machine, the hell that is home for David- ...more
In Praise of Barbarians is a collection of articles written by Mike Davis, most for the journal Socialist Review. Davis is a socialist writer living in San Diego. He's been an activist since his high school days, once serving as southern California organizer for the SDS in the mid 1960s.

He writes in a very engaging style - slightly ironic, seldom doctrinaire. Even if you don't share his socialist viewpoint you might still enjoy many of his articles. His perspective is that of an engaged politica
Collection of essays by socialist egghead Mike Davis. Most or all of them were written after 2000, and many of them cover current topics still developing, such as the reconstruction of New Orleans, the Democratic takeover of Congress and the Senate, and anti-immigrant vigilante efforts on the U.S. - Mexico border. At other times the author waxes nostalgic-indignant over the past: the great anarchist movements during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the youth 'riots' on the Sunset ...more
WOW!!! Davis continues to be the most eloquent leftist writer of the day! I generally don't follow radical works but the analysis of the 2006 midterm elections alone is worth the price. The analogies to Imperial Rome are sublime and the phantasmogoric, vertigo-inducing leaping from New Orleans to the Mexican border to Puerto Vallarta to 1930s Chicago, to 1840s Paris. Bravo!
It's a good book to get a sense of the range of Mike Davis's subject matter. Despite the abundant quantity of quantitative sources giving his writing a fact sandwich flavor, his polemics are deliciously digestible. The chapters on Left politics in Greenland & Upton Sinclare's EPIC campaign(End Poverty In California) are the mustard and sauerkraut.
Simon Wood

Theres few in the same league as Mike Davis - he has all the attributes of a good essayist, he can write well, with humour and wit, and can make the inexplicable comprehensible in a relatively short space.

He writes on a wide range of topics in this collection of essays - from the post hurricane Katrina ethnic cleansing of New Orleans to figures past and present in the American Union movement. His speciality is California, his home state, and his point of view is
Ryan Mishap
I really just got this because I like the title so much....Well, and Davis is one of the left's premier historians. Anarchists may not be fond of him, but he digs up the history of the working class like no other.
Those were the best parts of this collection--the IWW, the anarchist assassins from around the world at the turn of the last century, and so on. A lot of this deals with the election in 2004, the start of the Iraq war, and the devestation in the aftermath of the government's calculate
Phil Demers
Just awesome. Read anything you can get your hands on by Davis. His analysis puts the beltway to utter shame.
Some of these essays are a bit past shelf-date (the book comprises his journalism pieces since 2001), but Davis is consistent, and if you liked his longer, quirky social/historical books (City of Quartz, the disaster book I can't recall the name of...) the short pieces give you a context on his socialist pedigree and current political outlook, keeps yer bullshit detector nicely tuned. Good subway read--each piece is about one bus-to-train transfer long.
Eileen F
May 29, 2008 Eileen F marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eileen by: Noam Chomsky
In a January 2008 interview, Alex Green asked Noam Chomsky, "What was your favorite book of last year?" Chomsky could not name only one favorite nor could he name them all.
Chomsky suggested, among others "In Praise of Barbarians: Essays against Empire" by Mike Davis.
Mike Davis can be very hit and miss. This book consists of lots of 5-page rants for Socialist magazines. I should have known this wouldn't be one of his better books, but I was excited to read his take-down of "What's the Matter with Kansas?" It was alright.
Some of these are pretty good, some are less so, but I'd still rather read Davis on a bad day than most mainstream columnists on their best day.
Despite sloppy editing and a somewhat idiosyncratic use of words like "antinomy," the substance of these essays makes for provocative reading.
Another Counterpoise review. Unlike the Frances Moore Lappe title, however, I am looking forward to this one.
Jaymes Gleeson
MIke Davis: Socialist, An Anarchist Historian; great writer
a bit sloppy. more substantive comments to come.
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Social commentator, urban theorist, historian, and political activist. He is best known for his investigations of power and social class in his native Southern California.
More about Mike Davis...
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