Magazine article The Progressive

Our Favorite Books of 2007: By Amitabh Pal

Magazine article The Progressive

Our Favorite Books of 2007: By Amitabh Pal

Article excerpt

Was 2007 a good year for books or did I somehow luck out? Alas, a lack of space prevents me from mentioning most of the ones I enjoyed. But here are a few.

Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is her acidic send-off to free market guru Milton Friedman. In a globe-trotting survey of the past few decades, Klein insightfully shows the causal relationship of state repression and free market economic restructuring in countries ranging from Chile and Argentina to China, Russia, and--under Paul Bremer's tutelage--Iraq. "Some of the most infamous human rights violations of this era, which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by antidemocratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the deliberate intent of terrorizing the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground for the introduction of radical free-market 'reforms,'" Klein writes. She overdoes the torture-economic shock therapy analogy a bit. That aside, the book--chock-a-block with juicy anecdotes and quotes--is an invaluable dissection of the noxious legacy left behind by Friedman and the University of Chicago school of economic thought.

Vijay Prashad's The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World is also a global romp, even down to its chapter scheme, and is, like Klein's books, filled with revealing anecdotes and self-indicting quotes. (Full disclosure: I know Prashad personally.) Prashad's book is an account of efforts by developing nations to not be camp followers of either superpower during the Cold War and instead to pursue autonomous economic development and to restructure an unjust global economic order. …

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