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.
Raft By Howard Goldenberg Hybrid Publishers, 2009 225 pages, $29.95 (pb) When it comes to closing the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health, Howard Goldenberg's new book, Raft, could be just what the doctor ordered. Goldenberg is a Melbourne-based medic who also works as a locum, stepping in for doctors in some of Australia's farthest-flung communities. Raft is his account of those experiences.
Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy By Arundhati Roy Penguin, 2009 256 pages, $30
Two hundred and fifty people marched from Sydney Town Hall to the New South Wales state Labor conference at Darling Harbour on Saturday November 14 to protest against plans for new coal power stations at Bayswater, near Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley, and Mt Piper, near Lithgow. Protesters chanted "No more coal power, green jobs now".
Waste: uncovering the global food scandalBy Tristram Stuart
Penguin, 2009 496 pages, $25 (pb)
When I arrived in Australia as a new immigrant in August 2008, I had no job and little money. I'd read about freegans — people who live on thrown-away food — so decided to try my luck.