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Tuesday, October 12 2004

Drug Wars: The Political Economy of Narcotics by Curtis Marez

You don't always have to agree with Marez's rigid Neo-Marxist critical methods to appreciate the value of this detailed historic-cultural study of the blatantly racist, imperialist roots of today's 'war on drugs'.

Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hija

Kennedy details the extraordinarily close ties between Bush's environmental policies and the energy interests which have helped him raise unprecedented amounts of money for his campaigns.

And It Don’t Stop!: The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years by Raquel Cepeda

A much more interesting anthology might have scrapped the omnibus approach in favor of a different overarching idea.

Wednesday, October 6 2004

The Tearjerker by Daniel Hayes

Hayes postulates writing as an act of timidity and distance, a profession chosen by those who want to recreate excitement rather than experience.

Blinking with Fists: Poems by Billy Corgan

As lyric poems, however, without the support of a band, it's just totally high school, totally amateur, totally naive, and not in the good way.

After by Claire Tristram

After quickly became -- and will hereafter be read as -- a post-Abu Ghraib novel, which burdens it with implications that Tristram could never have predicted.

Tuesday, September 28 2004

The Suburban You: Reports From the Home Front by Mark Falanga

Mark Falanga's book is a non-fictional, thesis-free, made-for-TV, ADD-approved examination of American suburban life.

Seeking Salamanca Mitchell by Kenji Jasper

It is fiction for our times that expertly illustrates the dualism (hustling ambition + layered versatility) of an important sect of Generation Xers.

The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light by Tom Harpur

By representing both our divine and our human natures, Horus is Everyman and Everywoman; his story is the Gnostic story of human consciousness.

Dylan’s Visions of Sin by Christopher Ricks

Ricks takes displaying linguistic dexterity and literary education several horizons too far -- far too often, this loses Dylan and it loses readers.

Tuesday, September 21 2004

Since You Ask by Louise Wareham

In recounting Betsy's dynamic and destructive connections, Wareham has crafted a novel that portrays a complicated character and her multifaceted mind with deep empathy.

Moscow 1812 by Adam Zamoyski

Zamoyski blames Napoleon's tactical leadership with the campaign's failure, and the list of errors the author attributes to the emperor looks surprisingly like the kinds of mistakes that continue to doom military campaigns to this day.

Hoax: Why Americans are Suckered by White House Lies by Nicholas von Hoffman

Von Hoffman rings the death knell for the 'American Century', claiming that despite its current braggadocio and so-called victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US has failed in its effort to bring any stability to the region.

Tuesday, September 14 2004

Wake Up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames

Blair is an endearingly unsuccessful human being -- and writer-- out to craft the Great New Jersey Novel, thinking the Great American Novel beyond his reach.

So What!  The Good, The Mad, and The Ugly by Steffan Chirazi

Unvarnished, revealing, annoying, inspiring, and illuminating, the voices of Metallica in this book reach far beyond Hetfield's usual growl on his vocal recordings.

Some of My Best Friends: Writings on Interracial Friendships by Emily Bernard

It is a pressure cooker situation. Many of the essays are filled with anger, resentment, confusion, misunderstanding, and contradictions.

How I Paid For College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater by Marc Acito

Marc Acito, who has been called the 'gay Dave Barry,' understands sexual confusion and explores it subtly and lightly, avoiding a heavy-handed approach.

Tuesday, August 31 2004

Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas by Ken Foskett

The two most highly combustible issues in America -- race and sex -- had been doused with gasoline and set afire.

I Dream of Microwaves by Imad Rahman

At best, such work is insightful; cross-breeding makes for more ingenious and unique prose. At its worse, bad multicultural literature is just bad writing.

Ghosts of Vesuvius: A New Look at the Last Days of Pompeii, How Towers Fall, and Other Strange Conne

Before we pass judgment on the moral fiber of earlier societies, we must first examine our own regard for humanity, our propensity for cruelty, and our readiness to deal with future disasters.

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