These days the environment and politics are often inextricably twain, so this gift guide offers books for ‘greenies,’ some for ‘pundits’ and some in between.
You Are Here: Exposing the Vital Link Between What We Do and What That Does to Our Planet
by Thomas M. Kostigen
HarperOne; 256 pages; $25.95; October 2008
Environmental writer Thomas Kostigen’s new book, You Are Here, is a crash course in the direct, often destructive results of our actions on the environment, for those that deny or simply haven’t let sink in the climate change narratives now living on our planet. The book explores and uncovers the dangerous and un-digestible reality of the Mumbai e-waste dumps, the medical waste and plastic trash dump that the Pacific has become, a town in Alaska that has been ordered to evacuate by 2015 due to ice melt, how worldwide demand for soy is hastening the Amazon destruction, and more. Once you’re convinced, you’ll have to go elsewhere for positive direction and action steps (like Break Through), but this book is the perfect jumpstart for the complacent and uninformed.
Your Eco-Friendly Home: Buying, Building, or Remodeling Green
by Sid Davis
Amacom; 230 pages; $17.95
With clear and appropriately technical explanations, real estate agent and author Sid Davis’s new book is aimed to help people like you and me develop a personal action plan for energy savings and sustainable or at least responsible use of resources, while also presenting information that will help people buy, build or remodel ‘green.’ Tips and trap, easy-to-read bulleted lists and sidebard make this a practical home guide that can be picked up for quick reference, and applicable to people who don’t think themselves conservationist, but simply want to do things right.
The Superferry Chronicles: Hawaii’s Uprising Against Militarism, Commercialism, and the Desecration of the Earth
by Koohan Paik and Jerry Mander
Koa Books; 328 pages;
Together with local and mainland environmental professionals, Hawaiian activist Haunanu Kay Trask, military observers and legal experts, filmmaker Paik and globalization think tank director Mander unpack the dramatic events surrounding the early launch of the Superferry interisland transport in 2007. Focusing on the Kaua’i harbor blockade, a month-by-month history of events in the development of the ferry, and insider reports about environmental questions, legal issues, and militarism in Hawai’i, the book supports its foundational theses–that the Superferry is a window into the intrigue and corruption amongst the military, commercial interests and Governor Lingle, and a time when Hawai’i citizens finally said Enough.
Food Fray: Inside the Controversy over Genetically Modified Food
By Lisa Weasel
Amacom; 234 pages
Though most American consumers have remained blissfully ignorant of the presence of genetically-modified foods on our shelves, behind the closed doors of scientists, farmers, policymakers, activists, and corporations like Monsanto a fierce debate is raging. Renowned scientist Weasel does a remarkable job of conjuring a vivid narrative that cuts through the hype to reveal why Zambia refused America’s GM foods during a 2002 famine, why Europeans don’t want anything to do with them, and why though Americans want to know what’s in their food, they don’t. Food Fray offers insight and information to help you see for yourself on which side of the debate you stand, and why opposition to GM foods is far from anti-science, and instead is 100 percent pro-human. Look out for my forthcoming full reviews of this book in the Miami Herald and Honolulu Advertiser.
Tuna: A Love Story
By Richard Ellis
Knopf; 319 pages; $26.95
Just when you thought eating organic was your primary food dilemma, Richard Ellis’ new book “Tuna: A Love Story” inspires another: whether to eat fish at all. An encyclopedic documentary of the Thunnus thynnus, or Bluefin tuna, Ellis’ narrative explains all you wanted to know (and much you wished you didn’t) about these critically endangered “jet fighters of the sea,” much loved and eaten around the globe. Read more about this book here.
Dissent: Voices of Conscience
By Colonel (Ret.) Ann Wright and Susan Dixon
Koa Books; 278 pages
This gutsy book tells the stories of government insiders and active-duty military, like co-author Ann Wright, who put their careers, reputations and in the days of the Bush regime, their freedom at risk to support the Constitution and laws of our nation by speaking out, resigning, leaking documents, or refusing to deploy to Iraq in protest of what they felt were illegal government actions. Included in the book are resignation letters by diplomats and military insiders, and candid explanations of how we got into Iraq, who the whistleblowers where and why, and a look at oposition within the miliary–without spin, and with a clear voice that shows us the right path is one of truth.
Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef
By Betty Fussell
Harcourt; 383 pages
To examine the solid place beef occupies inside our national identity, author and food history lecturer Betty Fussell visited breeders, ranchers, feeders, processers and chefs across the country, a journey and its findings explored in her new book Raising Steaks. It’s not a pro-beef book or an anti-beef book so much as a pro-America book, for Fussell’s examinations of the successes and contradictions of the modern factory farming beef industry, cowboy roots and myths, mad cow disease, the industry’s vital link to our economy, and even top steak recipes, ultimately cook up a vision of beef as a larger-than-life metaphor for America.