T Nation

credible scholarship

Concerning the recent threads regarding Dubya & US foreign policy, maybe its a good idea to put together a list of solid, credible reading list (both pro & con current administration)on the subject. I’m talking about works that have required much documented research, not opinion pieces.
If everyone could offer up something, then take the time to read at least 1 item, it would make for better informed discussions.
Lets leave the name calling & knee jerk reactions in the schoolyard down the block. Lets rise above.

Since nobody has responded yet to putting together a reading list I’ll throw out a few:

Howard Zinn “A Peoples History of the US” (2 Vols.) &
“Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You”

Gore Vidal “The Last Empire” & “Dreaming War: Blood for Oil & the Cheney-Bush Junta”

Noam Chomsky “Understanding Power” & “Power & Terror: Post 9-11 Talks”

Benjamin Barber “Jihad vs. McWorld”

Just some that I’ve found very informative and eye-opening, but I’d also like to see some scholarship that argues for actions taken by the Baby Bush administration. Its safe to say that we should not rely on CNN/ABC/NBC to tell us what the truth is.

Sorry, people would prefer to argue based on gut feeling.

As you posted, Barbers “jihad vs Mcworld” wasn’t bad. It is quite similer in message to some of Thomas Freedman’s books although slightly more sophisticated.

I read Anonymous’s “Through Our Enemies’ Eyes” the other day and that was quite an interesting rebuttle to much of the media’s portrayal of bin Laden.

I could list at least a dozen others on mid east history and politics if anyone is interested.

I find it interseting that the books listed have “leftist” view points (I have read them by the way). You might also read a book on Liberty by a Lawyer named Spence, he also wrote how to “Win every Arguement”.
But then you would be forced to read books like Slander and Bias and books by Colin Powell and John McCann. However those are just a little right of center, so maybe you should read book by some very right(and I am not taling O’reilly herer) to balance out those leftist books.
Unfortuately, I can not recommend one or two books or even a dozen that will give you a clear view (even history books are bias) you must read for yourself and determine where you stand.
I myself try to be active and helpful, last week I attended a conference in New York for Emergency Managers. We did not foucs on the politics. Only on how to do our jobs better. As always.
Best of Luck

E McKee, please do list any bks you would recommend on mid-East political history. I have briefly looked at “Through the eyes” but haven’t read it.

Older Lifter, thanks for your input. I am quite aware that most of what I had listed does lean towards “the left” (maybe due to the scope of works I had read while in grad school), which is why I asked for recommendations from all sides. I really would like to see some important scholarship coming from different angles. Would love to have the time to search out & read everything, but don’t have it- so would value some input.

Of course history bks can be or are biased, which is why Zinn’s work is important to the US History canon.

Diesel, anything to add to the pot?

I’ll post a few on wed. when I’m not too busy, but for now I’ll put up a couple.

On post-coldwar theory-- Huntingtons “Clash of Civilizations”–
An interesting, although at times seemingly simplistic, model for predicting and explaining post coldwar conflicts. As the title suggests, it predicts conflict based on cultural and “civilizational” lines as opposed to ideological (communism vs democracy) institutional or purely realist (statist) models.

Hourani’s “History of the Arab Peoples”-
– It’s been a long time since I read this one, but I remember thinking well of it. It provides a nicely balanced general introduction to middle eastern history.

“Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Centre Disaster” by David Icke.
I have just finished reading this book its main topic is 9/11 but also includes the Oklahoma Bombing,and the History of the Bin Laden family and the relationship they have with the USA.

In his previous books Icke can be a bit off the wall,but this one he has backed up with some very interesting facts.
As an example,in 1996 a US military base was bombed in Saudi Arabia,causing the death of 26 soldiers and 500 further casualties.The only suspect in the bombing according to the US government was Bin Laden,yet the same government awarded the multi million dollar rebuilding of the base to Bin Laden Construction!
I offer no personal thoughts except that it made for an interesting read.

E, Thanks for the reply- appreciate it!
Huntington’s work looks interesting, is it along the lines of Barber in scope (meaning looking at culture & economic/technological factors)?

The Hourani also looks great- thats on my list. Damn, bks are really expensive in Japan! But reading sure makes commuting time in the sardine can pass.

Have you read any of Edward Said?
I haven’t read too much of him, but in what I have seen he lays out complex factors involved in the M.E. with clarity.

Although it focuses on different issues, Naomi Klein’s “No Logo” is an insightful look at how marketing strategies and the globalization of brands affects perceptions of the US - leading to points I’ve heard Chomsky and others hit upon.
Very good bk too for anyone wondering how & why those 5 Starbucks on every block got there and continue to make money.

Zippy: Did you know that the bin Laden group is the distributor for snapple (among other products) in Saudi Arabia? Apparently the company is involved in just about every business imaginable and they have a reputation for doing a good job at everything, on time and on budget.

The Snapple thing is not true.


According to the snopes thing, snapple was, “distributed by a company that had an investment from The Saudi Binladin Group”. I was under the impression that the distributor was a direct subsidiery of BLG. Regardless, the contract was terminated according to the article.

I never knew the “snapple is owned by somebody evil” rumor. That has got to be one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen in a while. I’m going to boycot it anyway—it’s not as if I’ve had one in at least the past 5 years anyway.

To Kuri,

 Bias by Bernard Goldberg. Its intent is to show the leftist mindset of T.V. and print jounarlists(which by the way he knows personally and has worked with for many years). It goes further and elaborates on the entire gambit of issues for the past 20 years or so, from Aids to the correlation that the rise of women in work place has had on the suicide rates of American childern. 

Thinking about concerns raised by Goldberg concerning the liberal media. lets think about who makes decisions as to what makes it into print or on TV -and we must consider who OWNS the major TV, radio, and newspapers in the country? These corporate conglomerates cannot be considered leftist in any way. They obviously have say as to what is and whats not allowed to be said, and do you think they would allow something damaging to their or affiliated sponsors product to come out?
There are alot of pressures on reporters and editors to be sure.

Right now there is a bill being proposed to ease restrictions on mergers of media production & distribution corporations. Details of this bill ARE being kept from the public- wonder why?
Many involved are concerned that this will lead to a few giants controlling what Americans see & here - similar to what Clear Channel has been doing in radio & concert promotion-wonder why most commercial radio sounds the same? theres the answer.
Clear Channel also threatens artists who may say something “controversial”, such as Ani DiFranco- the latest case, not to mention that any song hinting at anti-war sentiments are banned.
So then what happens when an artists sends their album to the record label- who then must consider what will make it on radio and sell? the result is obvious.
Freedom of expression?
Just an example.
Sorry to rant


To Kuri,

If you are actually proposing that the mainstream media is not tilted like a seasaw to the left then you will get roasted. Nearly 80% of these “journalists” admit to being liberal. The problem with your argument is that you believe the big brother upstairs calls the shots about what goes on air, the truth is, for all intensive purposes the anchors do (Rather, Jennings, Brokhaw sp?). Read Bias by Goldberg, who is a liberal himself with journalistic integretiy. Or you could just watch T.V. or read the N.Y. times.

Are you suggesting that News Corp and Clear Channel are also slanted to the left?

The “liberal media” is in my opinion a myth. In fact there is a book out about that, which deflates the claims that “the media is liberal”.

“What Liberal Media? Truth About BIAS and the News” by Eric Alterman.

Here’s a review of the book, by a conservative reviewer (to give some balance):

The fact is that 5 major coroprations own the vast majority of all media outlets, and these corporations are NOT liberal, they are conservative. I don’t think I can accurately remember all 5, but here’s a stab at it:

Tribune Corporation, AOL/Time Warner, Viacom, Disney-ABC, and NBC.

These are NOT “liberal” organizations.

To Scall144:
Rather, Jennings, and Brokaw are “news-readers” and they do not decide on what stories to cover, what the tone of the stories are, etc. There is a whole staff of people writing and deciding on what slant to take. Most of the criticism around the “liberal media” is based around one poll of media people which showed they voted Democratic. However, if I recall correctly, this poll has been shown to be incomplete and unscientific, and really proved nothing. However it gets repeatedly cited as a justification for calling the media “liberal”.

If you read that book review, at the bottom it explains that if you are liberal, you perceive the media to be conservative. And if you are conservative, you perceive the media to be liberal. It’s a matter of your own perspective.

Question: If the media is so “liberal”, name a single major media source that seemed to be against the Iraq invasion? Just one?

Thanks Lumpy, I didn’t have time to go into it at the time- but yes, 5 corporations do own the majority of media production & distribution firms.

Further, there is a vote coming up in the FCC on June 2nd on a proposed bill to do away with current limits on how big a share a single corporation can control. The big controversy involves the issue of cross-ownership (1 corporation owning multiple newspapers, radio, or TV stations in a single market).
Its fact that members of the FCC have been dismissed and replaced by conservative leaning individuals with corporate ties (this happened in '83 under Reagan as well- and was followed by the weakening of anti-trust laws which paved the way for the AOL- Time Warner merger among others). These mergers would not have been allowed before Reagan intervened, and now with the Bush administration has intervened (within the first 6 mths of his term I recall)to rid the FCC of those deemed hostile to corporate interests. This is about economics.

So basically after this bill is voted in(republicans are the majority I hear) we will see new rules that enable a single corporation to control 80-90% of media content and distribution in a single market.
I think this would alarm anyone, lefty or righty, concerned with being able to receive balanced news content.

Lumpy made a good point in that Brokaw and rest are “news readers”. Sure, they may be liberals, but they do not operate free of constraints. They do have bosses, who happen to work for very large corporations that are distinctly conservative & are deeply concerned with the views their stockholders.
This is not conspiracy theory, this is standard operation of market forces.

Edward Herman & Chomsky wrote a very well researched and detailed bk on this called “Manufacturing Consent”. It has less to do with liberals vs. conservatives, but deals with capitalism and economic concerns.

True, much depends on viewpoint. I work in the music business, and I see that everyone in my field is GREATLY affected by the actions of Clear Channel, the 5 major record labels, TV, and print media. Believe me that “controversial” artists (heard Dylan’s “Masters of War” on radio lately?) are censored (dropped) to a large degree (sure, some kinds of “controversial” music gets promoted heavily because it makes money)for fear of losing sponsors which scare shareholders… and on & on…

Anyway, I thank you Scall & Lumpy for your views.

Deisal-- and probably a lot of people-- would probably enjoy “With the Old Breed” by E. B. Sledge. It is the wartime autobiographical account of a marine infantryman during the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa. This isn’t really relevant to anything in particular, but it was a fun read.

Another book off of the topic of this thread that I would suggest everyone with an interest in war and military related matters read is John Keegan’s “Face of Battle”. It is a bit old, but it was Keegans first and provides a much more useful and analytical method of dealing with history. It is not long, and if you like it, I suggest Keegans other books, especially the WWI one. Keegan has been a senior lecturer at Sandhurst for the past 30 or so years, so he’s quite qualified to talk about war in his staff college like style.

It has been a while on a few of these, but you may consider the following:

Charles Smith’s “Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict”

I remember liking Andrew Mango’s biography of Ataturk also.

I’m still looking for a couple of books, one of which I thought was the best treatment of contempory ME politics I had read. I’ll have to dig through my storage room at some point…

A big thanks for the suggestions E., you certainly have an interesting range of interests judging from what you’ve listed. Not familiar with Charles Smith- will have to look him up.

I tend to delve into particular topics- read a couple bks, then get into another- provides a nice breather.
Have been reading Richard Branson’s autobiography simultaneously with No Logo, which talks about the development of brand “consciousness” and marketing developments- which of course is concerned with Virgin. Interesting!

I highly recommend No Logo.

Time now to get back to some historical/political works.
Saw a new biography on Woodie Guthrie though thats looks fascinating. Anyone here hasn’t happened to read it have they?