OurBookClub


Book Reviews: Environmental, Military and Political


2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec


The Weather Makers by Tim FlanneryBook Cover of The Weather Makers and how man is changing the climate and what it means for life on earth by Tim Flannery

Read by Tracy in February 2011

Tracy recommends for its simplicity.

This century will see the day arrive when human induced climate change will overwhelm nature. The Weather Makers details the background of climate change and the expectations for the future if we ignore the planetís warnings. Tim Flannery is a scientist but luckily has the ability to take complex ideas and convert them into a more publicly accessible format. Flannery takes a global view in these solutions, but he has scant belief and regard for the Australian government as it continually fumbles the climate change ball. Basically if we all work together we can make changes now that will soften the blow in future and some of the ideas are simple and it astounds me that more people donít start to change their lifestyles instead of waiting for governments to legislate. The science behind the book is the weather patterns that have historically been heavily documented and Flannery takes this information to use as a base for education after all few people can doubt the increase in natural disasters. More information is available on The Weather Makers website.

Buy Now


Growth Fetish by Clive HamiltonBook Cover of Growth Fetish by Clive Hamilton

Read by Tracy in 2009

Tracy recommends as compulsory reading for all those climate change deniers.

Clive Hamilton attempts to explain what must be done to stop climate change - a tough sell it seems in this day and age. He is not without considerable knowledge on the subject, having already published Scorcher which delves into the government's recalcitrance in addressing climate change. Hamilton aims to draw reader's attention to the pervasiveness of the climate change denial lobby in the media which is threatening the acceptance of anthropocentric climate change and he has considerable research documented in the book which is understandable to the law person without having a string of degrees on the subject. The issue is that this book will be read by those already interested in this subject, instead it should be mandatory for all those that aren't.

Buy Now

Back to top


The World is Flat by Thomas L. FriedmanBook Cover of The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman

Read by Tracy in 2009

Tracy recommends as an inciteful and interesting read on globalisation

This book won Friedman the Financial Times/Goldmach Sachs Business Book of the Year award

As part of my Masters coursework component, I started to read about the obsession of some countries with globalisation. Friedman at least has traveled to India, China and the Middle East and looked at the impacts of opening up previously closed borders to globalisation and the impacts on free markets. Friedman uses "flat world" as a metaphor for the next phase of globalisation where the world's economic playing field is leveled. This will allow everyone, including companies, to compete globally. Friedman makes the book interesting not overly complicated with documenting his discussions and interviews with people he meets on his travels. Friedman believes that this flat world was created by technology and there is certainly plenty of information to get the thought processes working. I can't wait to read his Pullitzer Prize winning book "Lexus and the Olive Tree".

For more information on Thomas L. Friedman check out his website.

Buy Now

Back to top


Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey SachsBook Cover of Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey Sachs

Read by Tracy in 2009

Tracy recommends for an oversimplified solution to the world's problems, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

I bought this book when on holiday in Nepal and just starting a new subject area for my Masters. My partner who has a background in maths and statistics, immediately argued that the fundamental maths used is incorrect and refused to read any further, but luckily I kept going. Based on previous articles by Sachs, I wanted to get an idea of the theories he has developed due to their difficulty in pigeonholing into existing research. There has been a lot about addressing poverty and environmental disaster through the Millennium Development Goals, but I personally don't feel that a lot of real solutions have been progressed due to the differences in areas and there is no "one size fits all" solution.

To me, Sachs seems slightly naive with theorizing that there needs to be a combined international agreement to solve all the worlds ills - I mean that has worked so well historically (let's just mention Copenhagen and the inability for any international agreement on action). I can see that Sachs does have some sound ideas, but I do not believe that technology (genetic crop modification) can solve problems etc, this is oversimplifying underlying problems. He does make a great advocate for urgent policy action which is a step in the right direction.

Buy Now


Shock Doctrine by Naomi KleinBook Cover of Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

Read by Tracy in 2009

Tracy recommends as an interesting take on the neo-liberal order

This book is the follow up to "No Logo" which Klein authored seven years previously.

Depending on which author you read, globalisation and free markets may cause total havoc and ruin or actually bring prosperity to developing countries. Klein visits Argentina before their 2002 economic collapse. The IMF required public spending to be drastically cut at the same time as the economy was shrinking, causing the inevitable recession which resulted in poverty and social breakdown. I visited Argentina in 2008 and found the country still in upheaval and coming to terms with severely changed social interactions. Our taxi driver at one point had previously been a University Professor, but with limited job prospects, he still had to find a way to provide for his family. I am not sure if I fully understand or believe Klein's arguements that these social breakdowns are not caused by incompetence or mismanagement by the governments, instead she argues that it is caused by the normal functioning of capitalism. I think that the short-term interests of some countries definately impact the social spectrum. However, Klein does have a point in her comparisons of free market impositions of emerging economies and the rules that are applied by the IMF and large global corporations. I argue that if we want to have everything there must be consequences and we must accept them as we accept the latest electronic gadget introduced to the mass-market.

For more, check out an interview with Naomi Klein.

Go to the Shock Doctrine website.

Buy Now

Back to top


Affluenza by Oliver JamesBook Cover of Affluenza by Oliver James

Read by Tracy in 2009

Tracy recommends for that epiphany moment.

This book is great. People want an increasingly materialistic lifestyle, but are they happy. James puts his finger on the problem - Affluenza, capitalism is bad for your health. It can be a pretty pessimistic read, but things start to make sense and fall into place. Affluenza is mainly focused on western countries where people define themselves by how much money they make, and are obsessed with superficial values - what people think, what we have and how we have to fit in with people's perceptions (all those people with fake hair, nails and tans - god there are people starving in this world and I don't think it helps them). Who cares! This is a growing problem - each subsequent generation is becoming increasingly more anxious and depressed.

James has travelled across a variety of countries and interviewed a large number of very wealthy people, who all seem fundamentally unhappy. James's solution is to look inward, not outward and don't be a sheep - I doubt whether many of my friends would take that advise, but it would be fun for them to see themselves, not what they believe people want to see.

Of course, all that being said, if money can't buy happiness, sometimes it may be nice to try.

Buy Now

Back to top