I received a free copy of this book through First Reads.
Naomi Klein is known for her daring (and often controversial) social criticism. In This ChangeI received a free copy of this book through First Reads.
Naomi Klein is known for her daring (and often controversial) social criticism. In This Changes Everything, she turns her eye towards climate change and the interrelationship between the natural world, capitalism, hyper-consumption, power, and privilege. The ensuing analysis is a bit exhausting, due to its depth and complexity, but is impressively constructed and well-researched. This Changes Everything is really more of an academic dissertation than a popular non-fiction title, but Klein's journalistic expertise makes dense concepts palatable.
In the latter sections of This Changes Everything, Klein focuses on how community involvement and mobilization has been chipping away at the oil companies' monolithic presence and introducing viable alternatives to our current energy model. These case studies were really fascinating and helped illustrate Klein's points about grassroots social momentum.
Some might think the vignettes about Klein's personal life were unnecessary, but I thought that content reflected Klein's commitment to transparency - when she talks about the work of 350.org, she wants the reader to be aware of her personal involvement with that group, etc. No one can transcend his or her subjective experiences and filters, but at least Klein is making an effort to recognize these influences. Even if you disagree with Klein's overarching arguments, she is a formidable critic whose work is worthy of respect and consideration.
Overall, This Changes Everything is an incredibly ambitious, eye-opening read. There are some repetitious moments, but I know I will be thinking about this book for a long time.
3.5 stars. First of all, Covington’s writing is spellbinding. Even if he were describing less sensational events, I think I would have still been enam3.5 stars. First of all, Covington’s writing is spellbinding. Even if he were describing less sensational events, I think I would have still been enamored with his prose. I also appreciate how difficult it must be to write about a staunchly vilified practice with any degree of credibility. The depictions of snake handlers that circulate within the public imagination are preoccupied with deranged, suicidal mountain men and their backwards beliefs. Trying to transform that initial association into a more nuanced attitude is a daunting challenge.
At first, Covington’s “all in” approach to the snake handlers was one of the best parts of the book. Unfortunately, his personal investment in the world of snake handling leads him to delve into his own genealogical background and obscure connection to the Appalachian region and snake handling churches. I really don’t care if he’s related to them by blood – seriously. He finds a news clipping about some Covington brothers who handled snakes back in the day and jumps to all these conclusions about how he’s following the trail of his people blah blah blah. You know, if snake handling had any kind of genetic or biological basis, this might be a valid line of thought. Since there’s no such thing as a snake handling gene or ethnicity, Covington’s obsession feels forced and unnecessary. He's just working too hard to make connections that don't have any real value or meaning.
That being said, I’m glad I read Salvation on Sand Mountain. Covington makes some interesting observations about the Holiness movement and its cultural context. He also (wisely) allows his description of snake handlers to drift away from the serpents. The issues of gender politics and community formation actually seem to eclipse the snakes in the latter half of the book. Even though I found the emphasis on Covington’s genealogy to be awkward and distracting, Salvation gave me a lot to think about and digest. It’s also a wicked fast read. ...more
I have mixed emotions about this book. Rebecca Mead makes some very solid observations about the conspicuous consumption associated with US wedding cuI have mixed emotions about this book. Rebecca Mead makes some very solid observations about the conspicuous consumption associated with US wedding culture; however, her methodology (if I can even use that word) is flimsy and frustrating. I feel her statements about "American weddings" aren't grounded by much cross-cultural analysis. If you're going to claim that certain traits are inherently American, or have evolved from a distinctly American ideology, then you need to engage in some form of comparative analysis to illustrate that point. Maybe I'm being too hard on her because I have such strong opinions about research methods? ...more
The typos were very distracting, especially since this isn't a galley copy, but Bissell's prose is well-crafted and he uses it to explore some excelleThe typos were very distracting, especially since this isn't a galley copy, but Bissell's prose is well-crafted and he uses it to explore some excellent topics: Tommy Wiseau, Herzog, voice acting, and the precarious nature of literary reputations. Considering there was only one essay I couldn't get into, I'd call this a very successful volume. :)...more
I was genuinely surprised by how much I loved this book. The Ghost Map is part medical history, part detective story, with dashes of sociology, cartogI was genuinely surprised by how much I loved this book. The Ghost Map is part medical history, part detective story, with dashes of sociology, cartography, urbanism, and philosophy. I was very impressed with the way Johnson constructed such a rich, provocative narrative about the various elements involved in the outbreak. There are enough details to make it engrossing, and enough macro-level connections to make it feel relevant. The work of Dr. Snow and Rev. Whitehead is amazing in its own right, but when it is contextualized in relation to our modern cities and general way of life, it becomes even more meaningful. An excellent "readalike" for S. Josephine Baker's Fighting for Life. Both deal with public health, city life, and the un-glamorous work of diligent, practical people trying to transform the status quo. Baker and Snow had a lot in common (and both are chronically under-appreciated, in my opinion)....more