Book Reviews

A French fiction on municipal direct democracy

Vincent Gerber in Geneva writes:

Hadrien Delahousse, whom some of you met in Vermont last year [and at the TRISE meeting in Greece –ed.], has lent me an interesting book (in French) : “La commune libre de Saint-Martin” by Jean-François Aupetitgendre (pseudonym), edited by Les éditions libertaires in 2012.

It could be called a political fiction. The author tells the story of a commune (of 5,000 people) that starts to develop parallel power and to function as a direct democracy. He presents the different problems that come out and how the people organize themselves to overcome them. It [...]

Book Review: Gunnar Rundgren’s “Garden Earth”

Garden Earth: From Hunter and Gatherer
to Global Capitalism and Thereafter
by Gunnar Rundgren

Reviewed by Grace Gershuny

Gunnar Rundgren is well known in the international organic community as an articulate leader, consultant, theorist, and practitioner of organic agriculture world wide.  A founder of the influential Swedish organic certification program KRAV, he later became President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), helping transform it from a highly Euro-centric organization to one with strong representation from every continent.  His consulting organization, Grolink, helps train organic farmers in Africa and has advised several UN agricultural programs.  Grolink [...]

Just out!: Chaia Heller’s “Food, Farms, and Solidarity”

Food, Farms and Solidarity: French Farmers Challenge Industrial Agriculture and Genetically Modified Crops by Chaia Heller

New from Duke University Press.
More information, online orders, and inside search are available here.
  The Confédération Paysanne, one of France's largest farmers' unions, has successfully fought against genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but unlike other allied movements, theirs has been led by producers rather than consumers. In Food, Farms, and Solidarity, Chaia Heller analyzes the group's complex strategies and campaigns, including a call for a Europe-wide ban on GM crops and hormone-treated beef, and a protest staged at a McDonald's. . .

New book: Civilization, Oikos and Progress

From ISE alum. Atle Hesmyr in Norway.  Atle has previously translated Kropotkin’s The Great French Revolution and Bookchin’s Remaking Society into Norwegian, among other projects:

Civilization, Oikos and Progress is a collection of essays on the foundations of civilization and the various developments within western civilization since its inception in ancient Greece and all the way into modernity. It includes analyses of the agrarian basis of civilization, and draws parallels to former civilizations in the Indus valley, Mesopotamia and Egypt as well. The idea of progress and its prospects in our age is discussed in several of [...]

A new social ecology book in French

Vincent Gerber, a social ecologist from Switzerland, has written a new book about the life and work of Murray Bookchin. Murray Bookchin et l’écologie sociale, une biographie intellectuelle (published by Ecosociété) presents the main principles of social ecology and the story of their emergence through the life of Murray Bookchin. It offers an historical and personal context to explain the evolution of social ecology and Murray’s contributions to it. By interconnecting the story of the man with the development of his ideas, the book offers an original view of social ecology that seeks to help readers [...]

New Book & website: Public Health and Social Justice

From Martin Donohoe, a Portland, Oregon medical doctor and long-time supporter of efforts to expose the hazards of GMOs:
His website contains a vast archive of articles, slide shows, syllabi, and other documents relevant to topics in more than 30 key areas of public health and social justice.

Regarding Dr. Donohoe’s book, Dr. Paul Farmer (University Professor and Chair, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School; co-founder of Partners In Health) writes:
“In this ambitious text, Dr. Martin Donohoe intertwines literature across disciplines and genres to demonstrate economic, political, and historical [...]

New writing on utopias

ISE alum Karl Hardy has edited a special issue of the literary journal Puerto del Sol, focusing on the theme of Utopias!.

This special issue (47.2 Fall 2012) features original poetry and prose as well as a ’roundtable’ Q&A with:
Kim Stanley Robinson – author of acclaimed utopian novels including The Three Californias, Mars, and the Science in the Capitol series. He also edited the anthology Future Primitive: The New Ecotopias.
Jacqueline Dutton – author of “‘Non-Western’ Utopian Traditions” in The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature
Daniel Heath Justice (Cherokee Nation) – author of Our Fire Survives [...]

New book: “Recovering Bookchin”

New Compass Press, based in Norway, has just announced the publication of Recovering Bookchin: Social Ecology and the Crises of Our Time, written by Sheffield Hallam University (UK) Senior Lecturer, Dr. Andy Price. New Compass describes the rationale for this book:
Through an extensive body of political and philosophical ideas he called social ecology, Murray Bookchin (1921-2006) elucidated one of the first intellectual responses to the ecological crisis. However, over the last two decades of his life Bookchin’s ideas slipped from focus, obscured by the emergence of a crude caricature that portrayed him as a dogmatic [...]

New book on participatory evolution

Counterpunch this week features an interview with molecular biologist James Shapiro, whose new book, Evolution: A View from the 21st Century, seeks to offer a comprehensive view of current work in evolutionary biology and concludes that concepts of innovation, self-organization, and self-directed evolution have now overtaken traditional Darwinian views of evolution driven by random mutations.

The book begins:
How does novelty arise in evolution? Innovation, not selection, is the critical issue in evolutionary change. Without variation and novelty, selection has nothing to act upon. So this book is dedicated to considering the many ways that living organisms [...]

New book coming soon: “Rebel Cities”

ISE alum Rob Augman writes:

David Harvey has been positively referencing Murray’s work on his recent writings and public talks. I just noticed this announcement of a new book of his, which similarly addresses the city as a site of struggle and reconstitution, speaking about the meaning of citizenship in relation to the city and to the commune:

New Book Coming This Spring – Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution

To be published in April 2012 by Verso Books. More information at
Long before the Occupy movement, modern cities had already become the [...]