Here are some of my picks for 2014's thought-provoking books from a political, financial, economic and environmental standpoint. They are available at Indiebound, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. I’m sure you all have great additions of your own. Enjoy and happy reading!
1) The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System by James Rickards, Portfolio Hardcover; 1st edition (April, 2014)
In clear, accessible prose, Jim Rickards dissects the precarious state of money at the hands of the world’s governments, multinational institutions, and central banks. He reveals the extent of damage prevailing polices have already done to the global economy, what will happen if we continue on this path, and what ordinary citizens and small investors can do to protect themselves from the economic onslaught.
2) Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State by Ralph Nader Nation Books; First Edition (April, 2014)
Unstoppable is even-handed, erudite, practical and necessary. Ralph Nader harnesses his lifelong crusade on behalf of the public interest over the corporatist agenda into a treatise that is optimistic and patriotic. He shows that effective Left-Right political alliances aren’t pipe dreams, but historic realities in need of strategic cultivation, for the sake of all of our futures.
3) The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great by Harvey J. Kaye (Simon & Schuster; First Edition (April, 2014))
In The Fight for the Four Freedoms, professor, historian and patriot, Harvey J. Kaye pens an inspiring account of a critical time in American history, inspired by the FDR’s premise that: “Freedom from want and from fear; Freedom of speech and religion” were crucial principals for all Americans. Comparing the strides that FDR made for the country with the anti-visionary maneuvers of more recent presidents Kaye shows that the way out and upward for the population lays in our past.
4) How America was Lost: From 9/11 to the Police/Warfare State by Paul Craig Roberts (Clarity Press (March, 2014))
In How America Was Lost, Paul Craig Roberts focuses his keen eye and sharp mind on the deterioration of government accountability and morality amidst the rise of hypocrisy and recklessness in the wake of 9/11. Through the tangle of wars, aggression, decimation of privacy, Wall Street protectionism and debt creation since, Roberts is relentless in his well-reasoned criticisms of US leadership from an economic and military standpoint.
5) Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld by Jake Halpern (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (October, 2014))
Check out my CSPAN BookTV Interview with Jake:
In colorful prose and through the real life stories about an eclectic collection of characters ranging from felonious thug perpetrators to US veteran victims, Bad Paper exposes the murky world of consumer debt collection. From shiny Wall Street offices through the courtrooms of Georgia to the gritty pit of Buffalo, New York., Jake Halpern traces the movements of a “package” of debt from coast to coast, and reveals the human ramifications of criminal collection practices along the way.
6) The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi (Author) Molly Crabapple (illustrator) (Spiegel & Grau; First Edition (April, 2014))
Matt Taibbi once again combines punching prose, on-the-ground reporting, and a sharp cynical eye for the absurd.In The Divide, he examines the two worlds that define our times – the one of the privileged elite that can dodge legal ramifications for mega-crimes, and the other citizens on the losing side of the economic and legislative system that are most impacted by financial wrongdoings yet liable to be arrested for not being wealthy enough to commit really large crimes,
7) Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations by Brandon L. Garrett (Belknap Press (November, 2014))
Garrett has compiled the most extensive database of corporate settlement information available today to shine a light not only on the manner in which corporations skirt the law, but also on what must be done to curb them. Too Big to Jail is a cogent, exhaustively researched plea for more equitable legal oversight. Here is the rest of my review in the National Memo.
8) Unveiled Threat: A Personal Experience of Fundamentalist Islam and the Roots of Terrorism by Janet Tavakoli (Lyons McNamara LLC (November, 2014))
Janet Tavakoli, primarily known for works on Credit Derivatives and for her thriller about finance and the Vatican, shows her versatility as a writer and thinker in Unveiled Threat. Drawn from her personal experiences during Iran's Islamic revolution of 1978-79 and a plethora of research collected since, Tavakoli reveals the extent to which Fundamentalist Islam is at odds with basic freedoms and rights.
9) Carbon Shock: A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy by Mark Schapiro (Chelsea Green Publishing (August, 2014))
In Carbon Shock, Mark Schapiro transcends standard discussions about the culprits and ramifications of climate change and takes us on a harrowing, international exploration of the economic costs of carbon emissions. He exposes the multinational corporate obfuscation of these costs and outlines his long-term solutions.
10) This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein (Simon & Schuster (September, 2014)
In This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein examines climate change in the context of rapacious capitalism accelerating its destruction of the planet, enhancing inequality and pulverizing economies. She evenly examines climate-change by detailing its deniers and overzealous activists, concluding that the market isn't going to stop the crisis that must be stopped nonetheless for all of our sakes. Klein details the efforts of those doing something about it leaving us with hope.
11) The 2001 Anthrax Deception: The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy by Professor Graeme MacQueen.
Graeme MacQueen’s well-researched book analyzes the October 2001 Anthrax attacks. He examines how the media and Bush administration spin about the threat of bio-terror was used to pass the Patriot Act and to establish a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. Whatever one’s thinks about 9/11; he provokes the question of whether the attacks were created or leveraged to rally Iraq War support.
12) Social Insecurity: 401(k)’s and the Retirement Crisis by James W. Russell (Beacon Press, April, 2014)
James Russell’s book, Social Insecurity, will enrage citizens of all ages and political persuasions, illuminate them about the pillaging of their economic futures by the financial industry, and incite them to action. More than a description of a retirement system coopted by predatory bankers and fund managers, Social Insecurity is also a passionate account of the complicity of the global political elite and a plan of change.
13) In the Shadow of Saint Death: The Gulf Cartel and the Price of America's Drug War in Mexico by Michael Deibert (Lyons Press, June 2014)
Michael Deibert is one of those rare journalists that plunges himself into the most bloody and tumultous conflicts in the world, having written two prior books on his experiences in Haiti and the Congo. His latest book, In the Shaodw of Saint Death, takes him to the bowels of the Mexican drug wars, from which he chronicles the devastating consequences of cartel battles and the impact of US drug policy. An eye-opening, harrowing read.