Phil Shannon

Blood & Guts: Dispatches From The Whale Wars
Sam Vincent
Black Inc., 2014, 274 pages, $29.99 (pb)

Industrial-scale whaling, writes Sam Vincent in Blood & Guts, had picked clean the world’s oceans until only the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary remained, protected by the icy remoteness of Antarctica and a worldwide ban on commercial whaling.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman
By Jill Lepore
Knopf, 2014, 410 pages

Wonder Woman cannot marry, according to Amazon law. She doesn’t want to, either. Especially if it would mean that she — the comic book superhero disguised as a secretary — would be stuck in the kitchen cooking dinner for her would-be domesticator, Captain Steve Trevor, the US pilot she fell in love with after rescuing him from his plane crash on her woman-only, feminist island utopia.

Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Amongst Us
John Quiggin
Black Inc., 2012
265 pages, $26.95 (pb)

“Being already dead,” says John Quiggin of zombie ideas in economics, “they can absorb all kinds of damage and keep lumbering on.”

And so, despite severe reality checks such as the historical Great Depression and the more recent Global Financial Crisis (GFC), classical free market economics continues to lead its undead life in the neoliberal form Quiggin calls “market liberalism”.

Clivosaurus: The Politics Of Clive Palmer
Guy Rundle
Quarterly Essay
November 2014
Black Inc., $19.99

Elected in 2013 by the curious, the disaffected and the dark arts of preference deals, billionaire Queensland coal baron Clive Palmer and his Senate threesome, were, at first, writes Guy Rundle in Clivosaurus, ignored or played for laughs by the establishment media.

The Political Bubble: Why Australians Don’t Trust Politics
Mark Latham
Macmillan, 2014
291 pages, $32.99 (pb)

The only thing surprising about the 4% of Australians who a poll last year said “almost always” trusted the federal government is that the figure is that high.

Further evidence of the many failures of Australian politics comes in The Political Bubble via an angry Mark Latham, the former leader of the federal Labor Party.

The Greatest Traitor: The Secret Lives of Agent George Blake
Roger Hermiston
Aurum, 2013
362 pages, $39.99 (hb)

George Blake was smart, resourceful and committed.

A teenage courier with the Dutch anti-Nazi resistance during the war and a British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) spy after it, Blake then picked the wrong cause, says Roger Hermiston in The Greatest Traitor, converting to Marxism and becoming a Soviet mole in the SIS.

No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA & The Surveillance State
Glenn Greenwald
Hamish Hamilton, 2014
259 pages, $29.99 (pb)

Glenn Greenwald’s No Place To Hide is not just a thrilling account of the award-winning journalist’s “cloak-and-dagger” encounter with National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, but a clinical and impassioned analysis of the danger posed by the US’s vast surveillance state.

Toms River: A Story of Science & Salvation
Dan Fagin
Bantam Books, 2013
538 pages, $43.95 (hb)

In yet another chapter of the well-thumbed book of “corporate avarice and government neglect”, writes Dan Fagin, the town of Toms River in New Jersey, two hours south of New York, paid a high price in cancer for the pollution of the chemical giant, Ciba-Geigy.

The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI
Betty Medsger
Knopf, 2014
596 pages, $46.95 (hb)

As far as burglaries go, this one was pretty audacious. On March 8, 1971, nine anti-Vietnam-war activists in Pennsylvania burgled the FBI. They stole secret files in the regional FBI office in the small town of Media.

With careful planning, a little luck and plenty of pluck, the amateur burglars exposed, for the first time, the FBI’s political spying and suppression of democratic dissent.

Power Failure: The Inside Story of Climate Politics Under Rudd a& Gillard
Philip Chubb
Black Inc., 2014
302 pages, $29.99 (pb)

In 2007 in Australia, “climate policy was a reform full of promise and excitement,” writes Monash University journalism academic Philip Chubb in Power Failure.

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