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The Daily Kos Political Book Club is a weekly attempt to look at, and discuss, books with political themes and subjects. Anything from academic analysis, to political history, to political philosophy, to books about political campaigns and politicians, and beyond; I take a broad view of what can be considered a "political book", and I hope you do, too. It's more fun that way.

Due to unforeseen life circumstances, my first attempt at establishing the DKPBC (as it shall henceforth be known) sort of fizzled out after our first book, "The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli. You can find that diary here.

But never fear! With myself on much more solid grounding in terms of employment and housing, I feel it's about time that the DKPBC was revived. And to start us off, I have picked a few books that I feel might be interesting.

"Up From Conservatism" and "Made In Texas" by Michael Lind.

Lind is a casualty of the American conservative movement's increasing extremism; having been a Democrat in his youth, he switched to the Republicans, influenced by Democratic neoconservatives such as Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. As they drifted further to the right, however, he did not; and a failed attempt to draw attention to Pat Robertson's anti-Semitic conspiracy theories proved to be the final straw, ending Lind's association with the Republican Party.

"Up From Conservatism", published in the mid 90s, is a strong attack on the Republican Party's Southern Strategy and on three key areas of Republican thinking; race, taxes, and school choice. But beyond that, Lind is strongly critical of Democratic neoliberalism as exemplified by the DLC and Bill Clinton, arguing that an "overclass" of wealthy professionals push for policies which harm ordinary Americans.

"Made In Texas", published in the early years of the Bush presidency, makes similar arguments, but with a more personal dimension; Lind grew up in Texas. His main claims that there are two different political cultures in Texas, one modernising, technological and forward-looking, the other extractive, aristocratic, and reactionary: LBJ vs GWB. He analyses where they came from, how they developed, and what it means for American politics.

"The Spirit Level" by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson

Controversial and provocative, The Spirit Level is a book by two British epidemiologists that attempts to popularise a lifetime's work down to one issue: inequality. Their argument; inequality damages and hurts society. A society with significant inequality suffers from a whole range of social problems that hurt both the rich and poor - although obviously, the poor get hurt a lot more. Pickett and Wilkinson try to set out their argument in simple terms, whilst trying to explain the statistical basis for their theories about inequality.

PR! A Social History of Spin by Stuart Ewen

This book begins, more or less, with CUNY historian Ewen having a genial meeting with a very, very old man. That man is Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud's nephew and one of the single most important people in the story of the creation of the public relations industry. Ewan follows the development of analyses of crowd psychology into what becomes the PR industry, and the tensions that arose between those who want to use PR to inform, and those who wish to use it as a tool to socially control the irrational masses.

"Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole The World" by Nicholas Shaxson.

Where is Mitt Romney hiding his money? Nicholas Shaxson might know. A journalist who has written for the Financial Times, The Economist, and Reuters, he is a member of the Tax Justice Network, a group working to try to end bank secrecy and tax havenry. In "Treasure Islands", Shaxson tries to explain, as clearly and concisely as possible, the development of the system of tax avoidance networks through the 20th century, and the damage they cause not just to the developed world's economic system, but the developing world as well.

So there we have it. Four (well, ok, five) interesting books on a variety of different topics. Hopefully, one of them Kossacks will find interesting enough to discuss next week, as the Daily Kos Political Book Club begins anew.

Originally posted to Freshly Squeezed Cynic on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 01:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers.


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