Item description for In Praise of Barbarians: Essays against Empire by Mike Davis...
The author of City of Quartz and Planet of Slums attacks the current fashion for empires and white men's burdens in this blistering collection of radical essays. He skewers contemporary idols such as Mel Gibson, Niall Ferguson, and Howard Dean; unlocks some secret doors in the Pentagon and the California prison system; visits Star Wars in the Arctic and vigilantes on the border; predicts ethnic cleansing in New Orleans more than a year before Katrina; recalls the anarchist avengers of the 1890s and teeny-bopper” riots on the Sunset Strip in the 1960s; discusses the moral bankruptcy of the Democrats in Kansas and West Virginia; remembers Private Ivan,” who defeated fascism; and looks at the future of capitalism from the top of Hubbert's Peak.
No writer in the United States today brings together analysis and history as comprehensively and elegantly as Mike Davis. In these contemporary, interventionist essays, Davis goes beyond critique to offer real solutions and concrete possibilities for change.
"Davis remains our penman of lost souls and lost scenarios: He culls nuggets of avarice and depredation the way miners chisel coal." --The Nation
A rare combination of an author, Rachel Carson and Upton Sinclair all in one.” --Susan Faludi, author, Backlash
"Davis' work is the cruel and perpetual folly of the ruling elites." --New York Times
Mike Davis is the author many books, including City of Quartz, The Ecology of Fear, The Monster at Our Door, and Planet of Slums. Davis teaches in the Department of History at the University of California, Irvine, and lives in San Diego.
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More About Mike Davis
Mike Davis is the author of "City of Quartz, Magical Urbanism," and, most recently, "Dead Cities," and co-author of "Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See," A MacArthur Fellow, he lives in San Diego.
Mike Davis currently resides in Pasadena, in the state of California. Mike Davis was born in 1946.
Reviews - What do customers think about In Praise of Barbarians: Essays against Empire?
You're Not Supposed to Read This Book... Apr 8, 2008
If you want to get a sense of what a wider discussion of history and current events would sound like in our mainstream discourse, this is the book to read. Davis covers everything from 9/11 to the Anarchist Avengers to the real reasons behind the Sunset Strip teenybopper "riots" of the 60s. I was curious to learn more about Spain's Durruti, who is described as a real life Robin Hood. Davis' interview on the history of the Anarchist movement is mesmerizing, if only for the sheer number of names and events I ended up looking up just to learn more about. There is a beautiful history in America, and not just of the Robber Barons, technology, and War... Davis chronicles the lives of people forgotten by history ... it's losers. But these are people we need to learn about simply because we're not supposed to know they even existed.
Interesting Read Mar 24, 2008
Mike Davis is an interesting thinker (and good writer) with a popularist point of view steeped in history and political awareness. This is a survey (or sampling) of his commentary in recent years, which covers a gamut of topics organized around the idea that a faltering American imperialism is undermining its culture(and legal system)to the point of near collapse. The current neocon administration seems to be proving Davis' point for him on a daily basis, which only makes "In Praise of Barbarians" that much more relevant. A good, quick read.
Passionate, unapologetic, and relentless Nov 4, 2007
Historian and socialist activist Mike Davis presents In Praise of Barbarians: Essays Against Empire, a caustic collection of radical essays hurling blistering attacks on perceived yearnings for empire and other potentially fatal flaws within modern-day America. Chapters discuss social ills ranging from California's increasingly crowded prison system (due to the "Three Strikes" laws that add an ever-growing number lifetime convicts who committed nonviolent offenses), to a commemoration of "anarchist avengers" of the 1890s, to a stinging condemnation of the Pentagon as "Global Slumlord" and much more. Passionate, unapologetic, and relentless in calling out the ruthless side of industrial capitalism, In Praise of Barbarians deserves to be carefully considered as a compelling warning of worsening social ills, regardless of whether the reader agrees with the author's political ideology.
Often good, but often dated Sep 30, 2007
I am a big fan of Mike Davis. He is smart, well-informed and politically astute, and he 'pays attention to that man behind the curtain.' He is also edgy, and sometimes his incisive, biting humor is brilliant.
This collection of essays confirms those judgments (at least by my lights). But there are a disappointingly large number of essays that are simply too old to be of any obvious relevance. Some of the essays published prior to 2004 still have bite and purchase: the essay about SUVs, the revival of nativism and the political utility of the most recent wave of anti-immigration sentiment to right-wing Republicans, and Davis's prognostications about the implications of the Democrats' failure to confront the tactics of the repellent Grover Norquist, for example. And I greatly enjoyed the reprise of the tales of the Sunset Strip riots in 1966-68 (Davis on LA social history is always a treat).
But the commentary about Bush, Inc. produced early in the Bush administration, observations about the self-defeating antics of the Democratic presidental nominee wanna-bes prior to the 2004 campaign, and assessments about the likely fate of Gray Davis in the recall election....well, those are more exercises in publication vanity than reader enlightenment. Sadly, the proportion of older essays of less-than-obvious relevance is quite high.
I'm not sorry I bought (or read) the book. But I was disappointed.