Inspired by the late Edward Said, Derek Gregory investigates the imaginary geographies that fuel current conflicts in Afghanistan, Palestine, and IraqInspired by the late Edward Said, Derek Gregory investigates the imaginary geographies that fuel current conflicts in Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq. His argument is that colonialism is not dead, but is present in the conflicts after 9/11. This may seem like an obvious thesis, but Gregory's claims about colonialism may be what is newest to the reader. He succinctly places colonialism in a context of "us vs. them"; "we" are order and "they" are the jungle. He shows how this rhetoric and colonial logic was used (non-ironically) at all levels of American/British/Israeli decision making in three separate and intertwined conflicts post 9/11. The main thrust of his argument is that individuals in occupied lands become non-humans, or homo sacer, and this gray area allows western military logic to render them in a legalistic gray area that freezes them or erases them in time. This concern about space, and the folding of space into new and oppressive geographies is what mainly adds a new urgent criticism of US/UK/Israeli policies towards their colonial "others." ...more
An incredible study of Israel's perceptions of space and how they are used in the Occupation of the Palestinian people. Weizman investigates walls, seAn incredible study of Israel's perceptions of space and how they are used in the Occupation of the Palestinian people. Weizman investigates walls, settlements, IDF urban warfare tactics, terminals, and more as he unpacks the ways that space are used to oppress. He also criticizes the implicit arguments of continued "spatial" oppression from a human rights standpoint. His hope is to make transparent the infrastructures of power. A must read for a geographic and architectural perspective on the Israel-Palestine conflict. ...more
This book is a very entertaining adventure into the extremes of fantasy baseball. I play fantasy baseball on a much more modest level than Sam and theThis book is a very entertaining adventure into the extremes of fantasy baseball. I play fantasy baseball on a much more modest level than Sam and the others that are profiled in the book, and I found that it actually fulfilled my 'fantasies' - that is, breaking down the barriers between "fantasy" and "real" baseball. For instance, the book opens with a magnificent anecdote about Jacque Jones, who upon reading his fantasy profile seems close to tears. Walker uses his baseball contacts to move in and out of the "real" world of baseball - meeting his players in lockerooms and calling GMs and managers on a regular basis - all in the service of improving his fantasy team. Players, GMs and Managers respond with a hilarious mixture of skepticism, support, and patronizing eye-rolling advice.
Through his manic embrace of fantasy baseball, Walker gives you the history of the phenomenon. He also investigates the two warring sides in baseball management today - those who are "old-school" and trust character and hunches, and those who are stat-crunchers who reduce players to a series of a numbers that become more and more peripheral to winning games. In many ways, this book is a companion to Moneyball. Walker seems like he did a lot of planning before he began to write to "set up" these tensions, as his fantasy employees and consultants (really, he hired people) were a "hunch-master" who absorbed player bios, a NASA engineer who ran complex formulas to make decisions on individual players, and a baseball fortune teller.
My one complaint with Fantasyland is that sometimes you get the sense that everyone is striving to create the most exclusionary world possible and women, in Walker's narrative, are completely peripheral - as either "patient" or frustrated wives, sexual distractions, or in the case of his third employee, fortune tellers. Sure, fantasy baseball is played overwhelmingly by men, and maybe Walker succeeds in implicitly critiquing these "fantastic" male worlds. Maybe I am just overly defensive because Alexa's "A Team of Their Own" took 2nd place in our fantasy league this year. I don't want fantasy baseball to be exclusionary!
Anyway, Walker's book is a pure page-turner for baseball and fantasy nerds, and I'd say that even fans who don't play fantasy would enjoy it purely for its adventure. It's extremely fun to watch his best laid plans go awry, and his inability to find the Unified Theory of baseball statistics helps support what is so great about the game to begin with.
I started to actually get upset when I realized that I was nearing the end (after all, histories can't go past the present).
This book is amazingly coI started to actually get upset when I realized that I was nearing the end (after all, histories can't go past the present).
This book is amazingly comprehensive and focuses on the "myths" of Europe as much as it does the history. It's case seems to be made out of what people claim about Europe, offering ways to think about history as a kinetic movement that is constantly wrestling with itself. As he quotes in the last chapter: "The essence of a nation is that all individuals have many things in common, and also that they have forgotten many things." - Ernest Renan. The "nation" itself is a portal for infinite scrutiny for Judt, as he unpacks Soviet colonism of Eastern Europe, divided nationalities, Nationalism in all it's forms, the European Union's role in challenging national identity, sub-national conflicts within states, as just some of the avenues of thought. Perhaps what affected me most was his early observation that postwar Europe's legacy is one of ethnic cleansing, in that nations were born out of the mass movement and murder of people. This is not just in regards to the Holocaust, but also in the codification of European states into fixed ethno-linguistic countries that finally retire in the last few decades into nostalgic old men and women, who go about making monuments to the nations they feel that they had lost. But even then, the idea of the "nation" has already been pulled out from under them....more
Instrumental for testing norms of "state death," including: nationalism's role, economics, buffer state status, resurrected states, imperial rivals, oInstrumental for testing norms of "state death," including: nationalism's role, economics, buffer state status, resurrected states, imperial rivals, occupations, norm after 1945.
Says that 1/4 of all states since 1816 have died, in opposition to the widely held perception that states never die.
Also gives a definition of "state death" based on loss of governance, inability to control foreign policy, no international recognition, and no means of defense.
Includes many helpful lists and charts of historical state deaths, rival states, and state resurrections, as well as case studies. While Fazal sets a good precedent, she also invites further research. ...more
An important book on an important and often avoided topic: How is the Holocaust used to justify injustice? Burg mainly argues that the inability to moAn important book on an important and often avoided topic: How is the Holocaust used to justify injustice? Burg mainly argues that the inability to move past the Holocaust (that is, the inability of the state of Israel to not compare everything to the Holocaust, or make every crisis an urgent existential threat) stymies the ability of Israel to be a "light unto the nations."
While I agree with many tenets of Burg's ideas, I'm bothered by his inability to land on the fact that the Holocaust is often used to direct Israeli policy in the Occupation, shield it from international criticism, and wage a disasterous militant foreign policy. There are moments where this peaks through - but overall, it's ironic that while he decries the crime of "holocaust denial", regarding Israel's puposeful denial of the Armenian genocide, and Israeli policy in the Balkans that ran counter to world opinion, he hardly utters the words, "Palestinian," "the Nakba," "the Occupation," and makes somewhat apologetic statements for Israeli violence. An example of this is while he is decrying Israel's inability to be the center for a humanistic Judaism, and a universalist nation, he talks about the violence of suicide bombers, terrorists, while mentioning a militant culture. It's passive enough that it seems like he's blaming the Palestinians for an inability to be humanistic as well, while showing that despite his deep reading of the racist elements of an Israeli society that claims genocide and tragedy as it's sole property, he may blame the Palestinians for their lack of a state. At least, passively, like his treatment of them throughout the book.
Maybe not, but because his shrillness that vacillates between condemnation of current Israeli policies and a love for his definition of Zionism, it's hard to peg where he lands on the issue that he doesn't dissect, but which the book is ultimately (and secretly) about. ...more
This book researches such a minority strain of history and historical theory that it is almost hard to classify this as "nonfiction." However, it is aThis book researches such a minority strain of history and historical theory that it is almost hard to classify this as "nonfiction." However, it is a great, fascinating read on the alternate history of the origins of a good portion of today's Jews. The history of the c. 600-1200 AD makeup of the Caucauses is quite interesting, and Koestler teaches you a good deal about the origins of the Hungarians, the Russians, and other nations that were born of the Eastern European Steppes. The book begins to fray when Koestler playfully hypothesizes the period after the fall of the Khazar Empire, speaking about race and ethnicitity, and how that pertains to Eastern Europe's Jews.
A great read if you're comfortable with your Jewish identity, though this book can obviously be seen as heresy. Or maybe, it's just entertaining. ...more
Informative, but loses because there are no accompanying maps of Israel - Palestine or the Allon Plan, which is cited throughout. A good critical lookInformative, but loses because there are no accompanying maps of Israel - Palestine or the Allon Plan, which is cited throughout. A good critical look at the beginning of the settlement movement, but a terribly misleading title, which makes me suspect that the author was afraid of what the reaction to his book might be. Follows individuals but doesn't give a good overall picture of the major settlements, and only spends a few paragraphs in the epilogue talking about the current manifestation of the settlements as commuter cities. Though seemingly balanced, does not do a good job talking about how the settlements constrict Palestinian movement.
Overall a good read, but I suggest further reading to round out what you might be missing as you go through Accidental Empire. ...more