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Book Reviews

Mud City Press is, in part, a literary endeavor. Along with our essays on environmental matters, short stories, and novels, we offer reviews of books old and new. Our literary editor is a salty, iconoclastic fellow who sails the Seas of Read with a wary eye for the meaningful and profound. Below are his thoughts on books he feels are worth a look or, perhaps, a revisiting.

Along with the work of our in-house editor, Mud City Press includes reviews by contributing writers Frank Kaminski, a medical editor out of Seattle, Washington and frequent contributor to the Energy Bulletin, and Ed O"Rourke, an environmental consultant currently living in Medellin, Colombia.

Table of Contents

REVIEWS BY DAN ARMSTRONG:
THE DISPOSSESSED
Ursula Le Guin wrote many noteworthy pieces of science fiction, but this one is her masterpiece.
CULTIVATING AN ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE: Essays from a Farmer Philospher
Frederick L. Kirschenmann's recently published collection of essays, CULTIVATING AN ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE, with its clear concern for the part petroleum plays in modern agriculture, offers significant common ground for farmers and carbon-footprint conscious, twenty-first century environmentalists. This alone would make Kirschenmann's book important, but it also does such a thorough job of describing the current state of agriculture, it would be difficult to find a more comprehensive compilation of essays on the subject.
COSMIC INFLUENCES ON AGRICULTURAL PROCESSES
Half wizard and half scientist, Harry MacCormack weaves together sources as diverse as the teachings of Native American elders, the interpretation of the Mayan Calendar, the work of Rudolph Steiner, and data from NASA's fifty years of space exploration and places them into a single context–seeking resonance with these cosmic cycles in a way that both advances personal self-realization and allows insight into the optimization of agricultural processes on planet earth.
THE TRANSITION DOCUMENT: Toward a Biologically Resilient Agriculture
Harry MacCormack has written an important book about the most crucial task of our time–the transition from conventional agriculture to organic farming practices.
THE FINAL EMPIRE
William Kötke's visonary classic is now out in a second edition. Read review. Access entire book online.
EATING FOSSIL FUELS
Dale Allen Pfeiffer adds a disturbing corollary to the thesis of peak oil.
OSWALD'S TALE
Norman Mailer uses a masterful psychological portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald to re-visit Dealey Plaza, November 22, 1963.
SUSTAINABLE OPERATING SYSTEMS: The Post Petrol Paradigm
Michael Richards details what is necessary to create a sustainable world as we transition out of the age of oil.
GARDEN PLANET
William Kötke takes a clear clean look at rebuilding after the collapse of empire.

REVIEWS OF BOOKS BY DAN ARMSTRONG

FILM REVIEWS:
STAND
This documentary, writes reviewer Frank Kaminski, "is presented from an uncommon and intriguing point of view, that of an avid paddleboard athlete and outdoorsman named Norm Hann. In the spring of 2010, Hann traveled 400 kilometers along the B.C. coastline on his stand-up board, tracing a proposed tanker route from Kitimat to Bella Bella."
CHASING ICE
Frank Kaminski reviews Jeff Orlowski's documentary film on the work of photographer James Balog. Balog's still photos and time-lapse photos of melting Arctic ice serve as sure proof of climate change and what it's doing to our planet.
INTO ETERNITY: A Film for the Future
"There's a growing sense that we modern-day humans are morally obligated to protect our descendants from the hazards of our nuclear waste," writes Frank Kaminski to set up his review of this Finnish documentary. "Yet the task of providing this protection may be a fool's errand. The most obvious way of doing it, which is to leave some sort of warning, could prove completely ineffectual and could even backfire."
STATE OF EMERGENCY
"So the other night I was browsing Netflix's instant view collection for a good, recent zombie movie with which to satiate my doomerish craving for mass societal mayhem and collapse," writes reviewer Frank Kaminski, "when I came upon a film called STATE OF EMERGENCY. My advice to you is that if in coming days you find yourself doing the same thing, don't make the same mistake. The film is egregiously clichéd, foolishly plotted and wildly unbelievable–in short, it's a reanimated turkey of a zombie movie."
MOTHER: Caring for Seven Billion
"Christophe Fauchere's documentary film MOTHER: CARING FOR SEVEN BILLION," writes reviewer Frank Kaminski, "takes a penetrating look at overpopulation, what fuels it and why the world has become complacent about the issue after making a good start in addressing it during the late 60s. The film dispels some key myths about overpopulation–chief among them the belief that it's long been solved–even if it stops short of admitting the inevitability of a world population crash as the Earth's resources deplete."
ADAM AND I: One Real-life Aspie's Personal Response to the Movie Adam
If you haven't heard of Asperger's syndrome, then you need to read this movie review. If you have heard of Asperger's syndrome, than you also need to read this review. The point being–everyone should read this review!
WHAT A WAY TO GO
T.S. Bennett and Sally Erickson's documentary "What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire" is a grim and emotional view of our world through the lens of peak oil, climate change, and population overshoot.
THE BOOK AS SCULPTURE:
ART AND BOOKS
This is a fascinating pictoral of the book used as sculpture.
REVIEWS BY FRANK KAMINSKI
BOTANICAL TREASURES: Multi-use Plants for Renewable Resources and a Nature-based Economy
"This lively reference by veteran permaculture designer and eco-forester Joshua Smith looks at a variety remarkable plant species. In the process, it offers great insights and practical advice for those striving to embrace sustainable, nature-based ways of living–and to liberate themselves from the pernicious, ailing technosphere that dictates life for most people in the industrial world. The blessings that these plants could confer on future human and ecological well-being are legion, and Smith covers them comprehensively and engagingly."
HARROWS OF SPRING: A World Made by Hand Novel
Frank Kaminski reviews the fourth and final novel in James Kunstler's epic tale of life in a post-petroleum world.
AFTERBURN: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels
Frank Kaminski reviews Richard Heinberg's new book AFTERBURN, a collection of essays written by the Peak Oil movement's most influential spokesperson.
THE LONG EMERGENCY: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century
Frank Kaminski reviews James Howard Kunstler's peak oil classic, THE LONG EMERGENCY, ten years later.
Frank Kaminski has been a steady contributor to Mud City Press. All of his his non-fiction book reviews are archived here. Kaminski's fiction reviews are archived here.
REVIEWS BY ED O'ROURKE:
WAR: The Lethal Custom
Gwynne Dyer's book WAR: THE LETHAL CUSTOM is an overview of the history and development of war.
WHY NATIONS FAIL
Ed O'Rourke reviews Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson's new book WHY NATIONS FAIL, then offers ways that this book might be improved.
GROWTH HAS HIT A BRICK WALL
Ed O'Rourke's critique of our growth-based economy blends the ideas of Richard Heinberg and James Speth.
ABOLISH THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
Ed O'Rourke give us a close analysis of Tim Weiner's LEGACY OF ASHES: THE HISTORY OF THE CIA.
THE HARDEST WAR TO AVOID: U.S. Civil War
A review of James M. McPherson's BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM: THE CIVIL WAR ERA.
AGENDA FOR A NEW ECONOMY: Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth
"Many have written about the economic meltdown's causes and have proposed significant reforms," observes Ed O'Rourke. "David C. Korten's book, AGENDA FOR A NEW ECONOMY, draws a roadmap to a green economy that will deal with climate change and bring a more just world."
THE FUTURE OF FREEDOM: Liberal Democracy at Home and Abroad
"Fareed Zakaria explores the evolution of democracy in various countries," writes Ed O'Rourke, "and says there may be a point in that evolution when too much transparency and too much public access can be detrimental to the democratic process."
OUTSMART YOUR CANCER: Alternative Non-toxic Treatments that Work
Tanya Harper Pierce offers an alternative view of the treatment of cancer.
INTERNAL COMBUSTION: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives
Edwin Black tells the story behind the rise of automobiles and the demise of street cars in America.
PLAN B 3.0: MOBILIZING TO SAVE CIVILIZATION
Lester R. Brown, one of the most intelligent and outspoken advocates for planet Earth, lays out his latest plan for saving civilization from ourselves.
THE GREAT TURNING: From Empire to Earth Community
This is David C. Korten's latest and most important book, verifying that, "We are the ones we have been waiting for."
THE SECRET HISOTRY OF THE WAR ON CANCER
Devra Davis recounts the history of manufacturer's hiding or deliberately obscuring the harmful effects of their products.
OUR FINAL HOUR
Great Britain's top astrophysicist, Sir Martin Rees, issues a "a scientist's warning: How terror, error, and environmental disaster threaten humankind's future in this century–on Earth and beyond."
HELL AND HIGH WATER: Global Warming–The Solution and the Politics–And What We Should Do
Joseph Romm gives a detailed look at climate change and what we can do about it.
CRADLE TO CRADLE: Remaking the Way We Make Things
William McDonough and Michael Braungart tell us how to detoxify the things we manufacture.
WHEN CORPORATIONS RULE THE WORLD
David C. Korten provides a perspective on the influence of large corporations in twenty-first century society.
HEAT: HOW TO STOP THE PLANET FROM BURNING
British Journalist George Monbiot offers his ideas on how Great Britain can do her part in fighting climate change.
NEMESIS: THE LAST DAYS OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE
Chalmers Johnson gives us a look inside the CIA in the third book of his Blowback Trilogy.

Many of the essays, stories, and reviews at Mud City Press are formated as ADOBE PDF files. If you don't have ADOBE's Acrobat Reader on your computer, you may download their free software at the ADOBE website.

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