Phil Shannon

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.

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.

Dirty Money: The True Cost of Australia’s Mineral Boom
By Matthew Benns
William Heinemann, 2011,
296 pages, $34.95 (pb)

Australian mining companies hand over $10 million a year in political donations to state and federal political parties. They don’t expect to be bitten on the hand by those they are feeding, as the Rudd Labor government did with its proposed mining super profits tax.

Time for the big stick of a fear-mongering $22 million campaign to remind the government who really rules in Australia.

Stop Signs: Cars & Capitalism ― On the Road to Economic, Social & Ecological Decay
By Bianca Mugenyi & Yves Engler
RED Publishing & Fernwood Publishing
2011, 259 pages,
$27.95 (pb)

The car, say Canadian authors Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler, who took a bus ride across the United States, is a doomed jalopy going nowhere. It fails, especially in the “home of the car”, on every green count.

Cars are the single largest contributor to US noise pollution and 40,000 people in the US die from car accidents each year (one million across the globe).

Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life
By Michael Moore
Allen Lane, 2011
427 pages, $29.95 (pb)

In 1968, the 14-year-old Michael Moore was expelled from the seminary where he was training to become a Catholic priest. His offense had been to ask awkward questions, like why can’t women become priests.

As Moore had to be reminded by Church authorities, “you either have to accept things or not”. For Moore, accepting the status quo was not an option, so authority would always be having trouble with Moore.

The Man on Devil's Island: Alfred Dreyfus & the Affair that Divided France
By Ruth Harris
Allen Lane, 2011
542 pages, $26.95 (pb)

The Dreyfus Affair in France a century ago shows how little has changed. “National security” was on the lips of politicians and military officers as an innocent man from a vilified group was framed for treason in a rigged military court and sent to rot in a prison hell-hole to serve political ends amid war hysteria.

Make the name “Alfred Dreyfus” or “David Hicks” and the template fits.


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