China Miéville is perhaps the most interesting and influential writer to emerge in science fiction, fantasy and horror (genres that he brings together under the title ‘weird fiction’) over the last fifteen years. His breakout book, Perdido Street Station blended fantasy, horror and science fictional elements, in its depiction of a corrupt and fantastical city, part London and part Buenos Aires, under threat from escaped ‘slakemoths.’ Its sequels, The Scar and Iron Council revisited this city and the world surrounding it. His recent book The City and the City, which brings together noir detective fiction and a very particular kind of fantasy, won the World Fantasy Award. The New York Times ran a good profile of Miéville a few weeks ago.
|By: Henry Farrell Saturday January 2, 2010 2:00 pm|
The Left at War tells the story of some arguments around the Iraq war that only partly intersected with the fights that were raging in the blogosphere at the same time. The book is less interested in arguments between warbloggers and progressives, or between the center and the left of the Democratic party, than in the battles among left intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, Michael Walzer and, indeed, Michael Bérubé himself. Bérubé’s thesis is straightforward. Much of the opposition to the war, from writers like Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn sucked. And it sucked because these people adhered to a simplistic narrative in which the US was always evil, and intervention abroad was always imperialism under a thin facade of respect for human rights. What Bérubé calls the “Manichean Left” actually made it more difficult to mobilize against the Iraq war, because it provided pro-war writers with an excuse to brand all opponents on the war as crazy.
|By: Henry Farrell Sunday November 15, 2009 2:00 pm|
Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler’s new book re-examines the recent course of American politics. They tell us about how authoritarian politics – especially on the right – have helped give rise to increasing polarization between Republicans and Democrats. This is an important contribution to debate among political scientists about polarization, but deserves a much wider readership. If they are right – and the differences between authoritarians and non-authoritarians are the key factor driving polarized politics – then many of the received wisdoms of the punditocracy are flat out wrong. Right wing columnists like Michael Gerson and Clive Crook, who deplore the increasing extremism of American politics and especially of the left, are missing out on the ways in which right wing politics are increasingly based around authoritarianism and intolerance.
|By: Henry Farrell Sunday March 29, 2009 2:00 pm|
Steve Teles’ book provides a great, readable analysis of how pro-market conservatives organized themselves against a legal profession and legal academy that they perceived as biased against them, and succeeded in changing it. It is reminiscent of other books on the rise of the right, such as Rick Perlstein’s Before the Storm, but concentrates on a much more specialized group of actors. Rightwing non-profit law firms have succeeded, at least in part, in bringing cases that raised attention for key regulatory issues. Rightwing funders provided the means that allowed legal academics to pioneer ‘law and economics,’ an approach to legal analysis that has become ever more important in influencing academic analyses, legal decisions and governmental regulatory priorities. Finally, the Federalist Society has allowed conservative lawyers to identify each other and to network (as seen, for example, in the controversies over Justice Department hiring practices under George W. Bush).
|By: Henry Farrell Sunday July 20, 2008 2:00 pm|
Cory Doctorow has a multitude of talents. He’s a co-editor of BoingBoing, the fifth most popular blog on the Internet according to Technorati, where he purveys a mixture of technology news, links to strange and wonderful things, and left wing politics. He’s been a front line fighter in the wars over intellectual property; he used to be the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Director of European Affairs.
|By: Henry Farrell Sunday December 9, 2007 2:00 pm|
Chait has, in the past, been blisteringly rude about the netroots (some of whom have also been blisteringly rude about him). While the netroots are not a major topic of this book, he takes a couple of swipes against them here too. However, it would be a serious mistake for netroots readers to ignore this book, or think that it has nothing to teach them.
|By: Henry Farrell Sunday November 26, 2006 2:00 pm|
(Today's guest poster is Henry Farrell of Crooked Timber. He and author Jacob Hacker join us to chat today. This is quite an important work and I urge everyone to read Henry's post and spend some time with the two of them in the comments, it is no doubt a book we're going to be [...]
|By: Henry Farrell Sunday May 21, 2006 2:00 pm|
(Today’s guest poster is Henry Farrell from Crooked Timber. Rick Perlstein will also be joining us in the comments. You can read last week’s Pt. 1 of the discussion here.) "Before the Storm” is an important work of American history. It captures what it was like to be an angry right-winger in the 1960s, and [...]