Saturday, June 14, 2008

Book Review/Summer Reading

by Eric Green

Blows Against the Empire, U.S. Imperialism in Crisis, Gerald Horne, International Publishers, 2008;
Solidarity Divided, A Crisis in Organized Labor and anew Path Toward Social Justice,
Bill Fletcher, Fernando Gapasin, Univ. of California Press. 2008

This is NOT a book review. It is more a recommendation based on some very good evidence.

These two books are bookends for your summer political reading. I have not completely read and studied both books. But, given what I know about each, I strongly recommend them.

I've read enough of Gerald Horne's book to highly recommend it for continuing understanding of the threat of global capitalist imperialism with its centerpiece U.S. imperialism. This is straight, up front, analysis and reporting. This must be primer for all political activists, not just those involved in international solidarity work. When friends, political colleagues, family and even yourself, sometimes ask the question: "What the hell is going on?" Horne gives explanations that make sense. [Catch Norman Markowitz's chapter-by-chapter review of this book in the PA Blog.]

Solidarity Divided a new book by Bill Fletcher and Fernando Gapsin is the other end of the bookend. Both Bill and Fernando speak from director labor involvement and activism. After years of rank and file activism, Bill was named education director for the AFL-CIO when John Sweeney his reform leadership was elected in the mid 1990s. Since then he has had a range of activities, the most recent one as Editor of Black Commentator and as head of Center for Labor Renewal. Gapsin is a former elected head of a central labor council. But, experience is not the only qualifier for this book. A lot of people have great experience, but don't learn anything from them. These two guys have the experience, but they clearly put it up against their Marxist understandings.

I heard Bill discuss his book at a recent labor breakfast at the CUNY Labor Education Center in NYC. In his presentation, Bill brought a deep understanding of the crisis that labor is facing today as our country is embroiled in a larger and worldwide crisis. He directly addressed the split in the labor movement and other problems.

While I haven't read the book, given his excellent presentation and reviews by those in attendance, I strongly recommend this book as another primer for all labor activists and those interested in labor. I plan to read very shortly.

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