Best Progressive Books of 2009

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Best Progressive Books of 2009

Inspired by the Best Progressive Books of 2008 thread (, I thought we should compile our list of best books of 2009 as we read them, instead of trying to dig titles out of our mental archives at the end of the year.

So, who is first?

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I just finished and really enjoyed a book by J B Foster and two other authors from Monthly Review Press. The book is "Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism from Antiquity to the Present". It basically covers the war of ideas, and some of the details of the conflict, between philosophical materialism and the various creationist views through the ages.


Here is a link.  


The various remarks on the book are helpful in covering the contents. I found the book very good for uncovering the "wedge" of Intelligent Design as part of a larger plan to "crack open" the philosophical foundations of science in general. For those familliar with the discussion of philosophical materialism among the early Marxists (Marx, Engels et al) this book covers some recognizable territory; for those not familliar with that tradition the book usefully shows how Intelligent Design fits into a lengthly historical conflict, as well as showing how it is not just natural science but social science as well that is the target of the ID crowd. 

I also found the book useful in some other ways ... and it has motivated me to take a look at a longer, more comprehensive history of philosophical materialism (say, Vitzthum's book). It's all good.


Here is an interesting tid-bit. The authors quote a recent book by David Lindberg on the history of Western Science in which it is pointed out that

"it was the revivial of (philosophical) materialism, rather than the emergence of experimental methods and mathematical advances, that led to the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries and ultimately to the Enlightenment."


The book was also useful for clarifying some terminological confusion. 



Various Skeptical sources having been taking on ID for some time now, prehaps from a different angle than your sources.  The last edition of "Skeptic" magazine had a short article by Kenneth R. Miller dealing with Ben Stein's movie "Expelled".  


 Do these books have to be published in this year, or read in this year?   I am oscillating (Hypatia, once again, on hold)  between the dark and the less so dark.  Just finished "The Road" by Cormack McCarthy after Neil Gaimon's "Anansi Boys", which was preceeded in the new year by his "American Gods".  

I'm now re-reading McCarthy's "Blood Merridian."  Wow. 

But, aside from "Anansi Boys" none of these are terrible current.



I just finished The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein. An outstanding piece of work.

Great historical compilation of the dirty tricks and massacres stirred up by corporations, money movers, and Washington in the never ending quest to get richer on the backs and tombstones of the anyone in an economic class lower than themselves. 


I'll never buy a Ford again, I can tell you that.



I just finished the Best of Rabble. A must read for everyone on this board.


Darn right, Caissa!

Speaking of which, I happen to have some copies at my desk! If you'd like one, email me at [email protected]. Cool They're $10 plus S&H.


the aftermath of feminism:  gender, culture and social change by angela mcrobbie.

redwestcoast redwestcoast's picture

a nice quick read, the latest by Chris Harman "Revolution in the 21st Century" 

The perfect pocket book for today's revolutionary.

George Victor

I'm going to have to give it some thought, but there are 10 months of input to catch up on here.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Let Them Eat Junk by a Canadian author. This book is the perfect and necessary companion to Raj Patel's book,  noted by BA above, and the Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. It fills in the gaps and then some. Where Pollan will change your diet and where Patel will change the way you shop, Robert Albritton will open your eyes and change your politics.

But one of the very best books I've read this year, and I can't recommend it highly enough, is The Price of a Bargain: The Quest for Cheap and the Death of Globalization. I would recommend it ahead of Jeff Rubin's Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization. It is smarter, more detailed, wider reaching, and more critical in its view of global consumerism and the end of cheap oil.

Someone else above mentioned Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. A great read and definitely one for the list.

And what is a Canadian book list without Margaret Atwood? Her Payback: Debt and The Shadow Side of Wealth is a must read for students of literature as well as students of progressive politics, and my better half strongly recommends and endorses her The Year of The Flood.

I will have to go through my reading list for more.


The Purity Myth, by Jessica Valenti

Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, Edited by Jessica Valenti and Jacklyn Friedman (though I think technically December 2008)

A Woman Among Warlords, by Malalai Joya



Holiday Reading List 2009


This is the golden age of muckraking books and documentaries but some of them may have escaped your attention because reviews and promotions cannot keep up with the sheer volume of material.

Here are my recommendations for your Holiday and later reading time


by Ralph Nader


Mark Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz, [URL= Guantanamo Lawyers.[/URL] (Find somewhere better than Amazon to buy it from.)


Andy Worthington, btw, whose blog I've linked to there, is a priceless resource about GTMO. He has followed all of the "detainees," so far as he could.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

jrose wrote:
A Woman Among Warlords, by Malalai Joya

I second this choice.


Other great progressive books of 2009 include:

[url=]The Global fight for Climate Justice -- Ian Angus[/url]

[url=]The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace With The Planet -- John Bellamy Foster[/url]

[url=]The ABC's of the Economic Crisis: What Working People Need to Know -- Fred Magdoff and Michael D. Yates[/url]

[url=]Bankr... and Bailouts -- Wayne Anthony, Julie Guard[/url]

[url=]Embedded with Organized Labour: Journalistic Reflections on the Class War at Home[/url]

[url=]If You're in My Way, I'm Walking: The Assault on Working People Since 1970 -- Thom Workman[/url]

[url= Power: From the Personal to the Political -- Judy Rebick[/url]

[url=]The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy -- Yves Engler[/url]

[url=]The Prescription Errors -- Charles Demers[/url]

[url=]Vancouver Special -- Charles Demers[/url]


Some great suggestions there, Left Turn!


Just ordered Thom Workman's book. A professor of mine said it was in his top 20 of all time.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Welcome to babble soc-student, I hope you'll expand on what you're learning these days.


I'm just starting the Shock Doctrine! There seems to be some awesome books listed on here... I'll have to get out and find time for reading them! Thanks for posting suggestions everyone