Phil Shannon

Greenwash: Big Brands & Carbon Scams
Guy Pearse
Black Inc., 2012
264 pages, $29.99 (pb)

The response of big business to global warming, their propaganda would have us believe, is to ride to the rescue by reducing their carbon emissions. As Guy Pearse shows in Greenwash, however, this is just a marketing ploy to attract the dollars of environmentally concerned customers.

Clandestine in Chile: The Adventures of Miguel Littin
By Gabriel Garcia Marquez
New York Review Books, 2012
116 pages, $19.95 (pb)

“The most hated man in my life,” declared the casual-dressed, bearded, non-conformist Chilean film director, Miguel Littin, was the balding, near-sighted, clean-shaven, Uruguayan business tycoon who accompanied Littin’s every step on his secret return to the Chile of military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, in 1985.

The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink
By Michael Blanding
Avery/Penguin, 2012
375 pages, $19.95 (pb)

The Truth About Ikea: The Secret Behind the World’s Fifth Richest Man and the Success of the Swedish Flatpack Giant
By Johan Stenebo
Gibson Square, 2011
256 pages, $22.99 (pb)

Sleeping With The Enemy: Coco Chanel, Nazi Agent
By Hal Vaughan
Chatto & Windus, 2011
279 pages, $32.95 (pb)

Fallout From Fukushima
By Richard Broinowski
Scribe, 2012
273 pages , $27.95 (pb)

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan last year was no accident, says Richard Broinowski in Fallout from Fukushima.

Sitting a nuclear reactor on an “active geological fault line where two of the earth’s tectonic plates collide” was courting catastrophe from an earthquake and tsunami like the one that duly hit the Pacific in March last year.

The Statue Of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story
By Edward Berenson
Yale University Press, 2012,
229 pages , $35.95 (hb)

“We are the keepers of the flame of liberty,” said then-US president Ronald Reagan, opening the centennial celebration in 1986 of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour. Reagan claimed the statue as an American beacon of freedom to the world.

As Edward Berenson shows, however, the statue’s political virtue had been compromised long before Reagan’s neo-conservative hypocrisy.

Rupert Murdoch: An Investigation Of Political Power
By David McKnight
Allen & Unwin, 2012
285 pages, $29.95 (pb)

An adviser to the former New Labour government of Tony Blair in Britain called right-wing media tycoon Rupert Murdoch the “24th member of cabinet”.

The advisor said no big decision inside No. 10 was ever made without “taking into account the likely reaction” of Murdoch.

Fly & Be Damned: What Now For Aviation & Climate Change?
By Peter Mcmanners
Zed Books, 2012
182 pages, $26.95 (pb)

In a future green world, will there be a place for aviation? In Fly And Be Damned, Peter McManners thinks there will be, but air transport will look quite different.

Struggle For Freedom: Aung San Suu Kyi
By Jesper Bengtsson
Fourth Estate, 2011, 308 pages, $35 (pb)

Aung San Suu Kyi’s entry into political activism in Burma in 1988 quickly met the fate of so many other pro-democracy opponents of the Burmese military dictatorship — decades of arrest and harassment.

Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years. But, as Jesper Bengtsson’s biography of the 65-year-old Suu Kyi shows, her resistance and courage, like that of so many other Burmese, has not faltered.

Celebrity Inc. ― How Famous People Make Money
By Jo Piazza
Open Road, 2011
231 pages

Celebrity is just like printing your own money, says Jo Piazza in Celebrity Inc.

Two rich, spoilt, talentless celebrity brats ― Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian ― are experts at the fame game. Kickstarted by family wealth, and propelled to fame through a steamy sex tape and reality TV, Hilton “earns” around US$10 million a year. The Kardashian family franchise raked in $65 million last year.

Panic
By David Marr
Black Inc., 2011
262 pages, $29.95 (pb)

Panic. “It’s so Australian,” says the dejected journalist, David Marr in his book of essays on the rise, decline and rise again of political panics in Australia.

Panic over the Chinese was the “midwife of Federation”, and subsequent alarms about German spies in World War I, Wobblies and Reds in the 1920s, Communists in the Depression, and the Red Menace all over again after World War II have kept the scares coming.

Pages

Subscribe to Phil Shannon