In this section you can read reviews of academic books covering the USA, and its continental neighbours, Canada and Mexico. Each weekend we publish two reviews, aiming to cover a wide range of books on all aspects of public policy and politics.
In Politics Rules: Power, Globalization and Development, Adam Sneyd confronts the neglect of politics in government and mainstream development circles, stressing the importance of careful, ‘disinterested’ political analysis. While suggesting that there may be no easy way out of the trap of ideology, Gavin Fridell welcomes the book as a thought-provoking and engaging guide that plots conceptual and practical ways […]
In Can Science Make Sense of Life?, Sheila Jasanoff questions whether the scientific capacity to manipulate life at the molecular level should also give science the authority to define what life is for. Exploring various cases to show how (techno)scientific knowledge embeds and is embedded in our social practices, identities, norms, institutions and ways of speaking, this book is a salient […]
Book Review: …and forgive them their debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year by Michael Hudson
In …and forgive them their debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year, Michael Hudson offers a historical account of the role that debt played in ancient societies. In focusing on how such societies dealt with the proliferation of debts that cannot be paid, this book sheds informative light on the significance of debt today, writes Alfredo […]
In There Is No More Haiti: Between Life and Death in Port-au-Prince, Greg Beckett offers a richly detailed, decade-long ethnography of Haiti that digs into how it feels to endure ‘forever crisis’. This deep and thoughtful study shows a sensitivity to the affect of ongoing disaster and the relationship between crisis and ordinariness, contributing to both the literature on Haitian politics and […]
In The Politics of Land, editor Tim Bartley brings together contributors to highlight the significance of the neglected issue of land to political sociology. This is a highly informative volume that explores a range of issues related to the land-politics nexus beyond the top-down understanding of its role in capitalist accumulation with much potential for future sociological research, writes Alexander Dobeson.
Book Review: How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart
Originally published in 1971 in Chile to intense opposition from the right-wing media, in How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic, Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart offer a cultural critique of Donald Duck comic strips, showing them to be far from benign products of the US cultural industry. Recently reissued, the book is at once an incisive […]
Book Review: Theory for the World to Come: Speculative Fiction and Apocalyptic Anthropology by Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer
In Theory for the World to Come: Speculative Fiction and Apocalyptic Anthropology, Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer argues that speculative fiction offers a rich vein to theorise catastrophe and crisis in ways that are not paralysing or demoralising, drawing on the work of those such as Octavia E. Butler and Kurt Vonnegut. This book admirably succeeds in showing its source material to offer a […]
Book Review: Occult Features of Anarchism, with Attention to the Conspiracy of Kings and the Conspiracy of the Peoples by Erica Laglisse
In Occult Features of Anarchism, with Attention to the Conspiracy of Kings and the Conspiracy of the Peoples, Erica Laglisse challenges the assumption that rationality and secularism are at the centre of anarchism, instead showing how this is rooted in a disavowal of its roots in religious and occult thinking, with implications for how we view anarchism and conspiracy theories today. […]
Book Review: Why Cities Lose: The Deep Roots of the Urban-Rural Political Divide by Jonathan A. Rodden
Parties of the centre-left in the US, the UK and a number of other countries win legislative power less frequently that their centre-right competitors, relative to the share of the votes they get at elections. This is because of the electoral system deployed in these countries and the geographies of party support. Ron Johnston reviews an important new book, […]
In The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America, Margaret O’Mara provides a new account of the region’s evolution that brings the US government into the story. The book offers a compelling narrative that tracks the key players and events that have underpinned Silicon Valley’s tremendous, but messy, rise, writes Robyn Klingler-Vidra, while also underscoring the gender imbalance and casual misogyny […]