Death of the Liberal Class and more...
In this bracing warning from Chris Hedges (War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning), the author describes how the American liberal intelligentsia—once a prominent pillar of society—has allowed itself in the past few decades to be relentlessly beaten and cowed into a pale reflection of its former self. While this might not be news for anybody who’s given up hoping for a true progressive voice to enter American politics, Hedges’ conclusion is what gives pause: without the liberal class of thinkers and reformers to provide hope that change is on the way, an important safety valve has been removed from our increasingly unequal society. “Liberals, by standing for nothing,” Hedges writes about Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and Tsarist Russia, “made possible the rise of inverted and perhaps soon classical totalitarianism.” Chris Barsanti
Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film
Zack Carlson, Bryan Connolly (eds)
Were you curious about which non-porn feature films did the director of both Weird Al Yankovic’s “I Lost on Jeopardy” video and the “incredible surreal adult film” Nightdreams make? That was Francis Delia’s Freeway (1988), which Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly’s insanely genius and improbably comprehensive guidebook notes includes a scene where “studded greasers bash against afrohawks as a disinterested pink-streaked punkette gets ogled by a no-neck with the greasiest devil lock on Earth.” Also included: every film even remotely punk ever produced. While authentically underground creations like Suburbia and the Social Distortion documentary Another State of Mind are given some pride of place (and luminaries like Ian Mackaye and Penelope Spheeris are interviewed), the authors have a special love for straight-to-VHS exploitation trash of yore, where mohawked gutterpunks (sometimes postapocalyptic) terrorized the citizenry. Class of 1984 (punks terrorize school), Friday the 13th Part VIII (punks die), Return of the Living Dead (more punks die), The New Barbarians (gay punks threaten humanity), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (punk threatens Kirk and Spock, gets Vulcan nerve pinch), The Road Warrior (“retrofitted trash and punk aesthetic abound”), and The Day My Kid Went Punk (self-explanatory 1987 Afterschool Special); they’re all here, along with hundreds of other grotty gems. Chris Barsanti
Written to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the strip, Doonesbury and the Art of G.B. Trudeau takes us through the history of Doonesbury and, using both text and images, illustrates what made Doonesbury groundbreaking and what makes it iconic. Walker does an excellent job of blending Trudeau’s professional and personal lives. Walker is a masterful storyteller; don’t skip the text. Don’t give in to the temptation to just look at the images. It will be a strong temptation, however. Flipping through the pages is the literary equivalent of walking through a museum. It’s a beautifully designed book, from the layout to the font to the images. Catherine Ramsdell
In an oversized edition, lavishly illustrated, this is a book that will put Floyd fanatics over the dark side of the moon. Rock writer Glenn Povey builds here on his previous work Pink Floyd: In the Flesh in Echoes. While his first book dealt primarily with the band’s concertography, this new work includes all of that information while giving fans an almost bewildering array of goodies. Rare (and some well-known) photographs of band performances meet you on every page. Images of concert posters and band merchandise provide marginalia for thumbnail descriptions of literally every live and taped performance in the band’s history. So detailed are these descriptions that, for example, if you want to know why Pink Floyd cancelled several shows in the Netherlands in mid-May of 1969, and the exact venues where they cancelled them, this book will tell you (it was because of work permit issues). Some might see this sort of archival minutiae as only useful for the most fanatical of fans. This, of course, is a book for devotees. But a band like Pink Floyd, whose reputation and creative power depended so much on their live performances, deserves this kind of attention. Given the massive amount of touring various incarnations of the band have done, you could almost say it’s owed to them. W. Scott Poole
In 1507, Martin Waldseemuller and his partner Matthias Ringmann produced one of history’s most consequential maps, a map that would marry the traditional perspective of the old world with a radical new depiction of the growing new world, and forever change how humanity perceived its surroundings. It also gave the new world a proper name for the very first time, after the daring explorer whom Waldseemuller and Ringmann believed was responsible for its discovery. They called it America. It’s this strange new land of America that’s referred to by the title of Toby Lester’s excellent book, The Fourth Part of the World, and this wondrous map serves as its provocative centerpiece. This is an epic story of humanity coming to grips with the globe, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and traversing vast distances in the hopes of better understanding the world in which they lived. Lester’s invaluable history proves that the adventurers and artists who gave shape to globe also gave shape to the course of human progress and that the story is as easy to follow as the lines rendered on a map. Michael Patrick Brady
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.
"Haunting, thought-provoking, and everything in between, here are some of last year's books that would make great additions to your winter reading list.READ the article