When a Billion Chinese Jump — How China Will Save the World, or Destroy It By Jonathan Watts Faber & Faber, 2010 485 pages, $32.95 http://site.whenabillionchinesejump.com/ When Jonathan Watts was a child growing up in England, he used to pray that all the people in China would not jump at once, lest they send the earth spinning off its axis.
About 250 protesters gathered outside Redfern Community Centre on January 26 to listen to Aboriginal leaders speak out against the Northern Territory intervention and ongoing attacks on Aboriginal self-determination. The event was organised by the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS). Speakers included Valerie Martin Napaljarra, based in Kalkaringi in the Northern Territory; Greens councillor Irene Doutney; and Graham Merritt of STICS.
The Rise of the Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement By Derek Wall Pluto Press, 190 pages, paperback www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745330365& Review by Mat Ward As the threat of climate catastrophe looms ever larger, Derek Wall has written what he calls "an explicit call to non-violent arms".
King Brown Country: The Betrayal of Papunya by Russell Skelton 260 pages Allen & Unwin $35 REVIEW BY MAT WARD The Northern Territory community of Papunya is known worldwide for its Aboriginal art. But this book by Melbourne Age reporter Russell Skelton paints a very different picture of it. Papunya, says Skelton, is "a metaphor for all that has gone wrong with Indigenous policy since the 1970s". He says former prime minister Gough Whitlam's policy of self-determination for Aboriginal communities in the 1970s was "unworkable and unsustainable".
Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam By Mark Curtis 352 pages (pb), Serpent's Tail, 2010. In Tony Blair's new memoir, A Journey, the former British prime minister says one of his biggest regrets is introducing the Freedom of Information Act, because journalists have used it “as a weapon”.
When US director Danny Schechter’s 2006 film In Debt We Trust predicted a huge financial crisis was coming, he was laughed at. It turned out he was right. His latest film, Plunder: The Crime of Our Time shows how the crisis was created by Wall Street bankers breaking the law to manipulate the markets — and suggests a bigger crisis is on the way.
Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone & No One Can Pay By John Lanchester 224 pages Penguin, Allen Lane Review by Mat Ward If you don't know the difference between a credit default swap (CDS), a collateralised debt obligation (CDO) and a cheese sandwich, this highly readable book could help you in a painless, entertaining way. Its author, John Lanchester, grew up in 1960s Hong Kong. He says the contrasts of obscene wealth and crushing poverty were “like a lab test in free-market capitalism”.
Review by Mat Ward
Fit to Print: Misrepresenting the Middle East By Joris Luyendijk Scribe Publications, 250 pages, $29.95 If you've ever felt like shaking your fist in anger at some of the reporting that comes out of the Middle East, this very honest book by a disillusioned Middle East correspondent will make you shake your head in wonder. Joris Luyendijk says he had no journalistic experience when he was hired by a newspaper in his native Netherlands to report on the Middle East. He was taken on solely because he could speak Arabic.
Trans-Continental Hustle Gogol Bordello Colombia/ DMZ Review by Mat Ward Gogol Bordello have always said their aim is to smuggle Roma music into mainstream Western society. Their latest album, produced by former Beastie Boys DJ-turned-super-producer Rick Rubin, might just do that. The US-based band, whose music combines elements of traditional Romani music with punk rock, is largely made up of Eastern European Roma immigrants who understand the long-standing persecution of their people.
New World of Indigenous Resistance By Noam Chomsky and voices from North, South, and Central America City Lights Open Media, 2010, 300 pages Review by Mat Ward This book bills itself as a “virtual hemispheric conversation” and claims to be the first book of its kind. It is certainly an eye-opener.