Social Sciences (page 2)

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"A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on."
William S. Burroughs
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312427993
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Published: Picador - June 24th, 2008

Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine is the most important political book of this generation. As in her previous book,No Logo, Klein is able to explain sweeping ideas with far-reaching consequences in an extremely readable way. Klein describes the hijacking of our country's economic and foreign policy by Milton Friedman's "Chicago School" of economics. She brilliantly lays out how Friedman's ideas led us to exploit the developing world to benefit corporations, for example in South America in the 70s and 80s, and in Poland and Russia after the fall of communism. But Klein goes a step further when she posits that these ideas are now being used in the wake of disasters to privatize industry, which reap huge financial rewards while populations are still in shock. For anyone who wants to understand what happened in the wake of Katrina, the Indonesian tsunami, and the American invasion of Iraq, this book is a must read. - Sarah B.

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Debt, Updated and Expanded: The First 5,000 Years Cover Image
ISBN: 9781612194196
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Published: Melville House - October 28th, 2014

You have to read this book. Not only is it the most timely book of 2011, but also probably the most groundbreaking and fascinating. Debt is such a huge part of everyone's life— has debt always worked like this? Where does it come from? Why do I feel morally obligated to my debt? Anarchist anthropologist and former Yale professor, David Graeber, tackles these questions and comes up with answers that will scare, infuriate, or free you. - Kyle

Eating Animals Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316069885
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - September 1st, 2010

Literary wunderkind and first time father, Jonathan Safran Foer, wants what every parent wants—the healthiest baby on the block. As a life-long on and off again vegetarian, its finally time to confront his fickleness with some real facts if he's going to raise his child to be strong, healthy, and ethical. Foer goes on a mission to learn everything he can about the industry and the animals behind the meat we eat and finds out that even the fairest of views looks pretty awful. This is not just another anti-meat book—but a meditation on family, the power of big business, and the consequences of not asking questions. - Kyle

About a Mountain Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393339017
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - February 7th, 2011

What begins as an investigation of nuclear waste storage in Nevada soon turns into something that breaks all the rules. It's not Gonzo journalism—but not necessarily unrelated. D'Agata has composed a book part journalism, part memoir, and part suicide help-line. Maybe when you finish you'll start questioning some of his connections, but while reading you'll let his prose take you wherever it wants. About a Mountain is thoughtful, artfully crafted, and completely unforgettable. - Kyle

You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307389978
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Published: Vintage - February 8th, 2011

Virtual reality guru Jaron Lanier has collected his musing on current technology culture and come up with a no holds barred critique of something many of us feel to be essential to our lives. He takes a long look at the user-based technology we all thought was supposed to democratize the internet and argues that it might be doing the opposite. What if Web 2.0 and sites like Wiki, Facebook, and Twitter are really creating a hive-mind and what happens if there really is no long-term economic gain to any of it? Lanier also makes a strong case that the sacred pedestal we've raised technology to is obligating us to fit into its capabilities rather than bettering our own lives. We are asked to wonder, "is technology stripping us of what makes us most human?" After all -- what goes in as binaries comes out as binaries. - Kyle

Columbine Cover Image
ISBN: 9780446546928
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Twelve - March 3rd, 2010

Ten years after the Columbine shootings, this event is still totally misunderstood by the many Americans who will never forget it. It changed the way America thinks about and acts towards its youth. Eric and Dylan were not gunning down jocks and nobody was shot because they professed their faith in God. David Cullen’s comprehensive study of Columbine shows us why these two boys would commit these actions, how the media botched the story, and what some evangelicals did to take advantage of people in pain. This is a must read for anyone still confused by the chaos they saw that day or anyone wondering why they were treated like criminals at school. Be warned—this book pulls no punches. - Kyle

Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802121448
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Grove Press - July 9th, 2013

In 2006, Kunstler predicted that the global economy was about to enter a period of long decline, which he dubbed "The Long Emergency." In 2008, the stock market crashed, precipitating a global financial crisis that shows no sign of improving. Now, in Too Much Magic, Kunstler warns that our faith in technology -- solar power, super-efficient cars, vertical farming, and more -- is leading us head-long into ruin. He pragmatically argues for walking-scale urban planning, mass transport, and other traditional, time-tested methods to solve our financial crisis, put people back to work, and dismantle our unsustainable suburban car culture before it's too late. With insightful commentary on American politics, the Euro Crisis, rotting urban zones like Detroit, and more, Kunstler shows how depending on technology in an era that will be defined by rising energy costs is foolhardy. We ignore him at our own peril. - Jennie

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594485756
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Published: Riverhead Books - May 1st, 2012

Are ruthless CEOs and politicians more likely to be psychopaths? Are the mechanisms of power tuned and constructed by the 1% of the population unable to feel empathy or remorse? If, like me, you're a pessimist about the state of the world, then the idea of sociopaths calling the shots explains an awful lot. So when I discovered that Jon Ronson (Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats)—no stranger to the insane—was working on another book on his favorite well trod but darkly fascinating subject, it shot to the top of my reading list. When I finally got my hands on his deranged and utterly absorbing odyssey through the madness industry, it was absolutely everything I hoped it would be. Ronson provides a heady combination of his signature self-deprecating wit and unsettling interviews with psychopaths and the people (not much saner themselves) who diagnose, condemn, or advocate for them. In his travels, he discovers a lot more about himself, the "science" of psychology, and the hidden structures of our society. Peppered with disquieting insight and riveting moral dilemmas, The Psychopath Test is insanely (pun intended) good, and extremely hard to put down. - Jennie

Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV Cover Image
ISBN: 9781580052658
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Seal Press - October 19th, 2010

If reality television is a disaster, Jennifer Pozner (founder of Women In Media & News) is its forensic investigator: making sense out of seemingly harmless shows like American Idol, The Bachelor, America’s Next Top Model, Flavor of Love, and others. With stellar, absorbing insight, she teases apart the decade-long history of reality television, examining its impact on our culture, its toxic messages, and how and why it has come to dominate the airwaves. Startlingly progressive, Pozner leaves no stereotype untouched: from blacks, to women, to gays, and to less-talked about (but no less important) minorities like transgendered people and Asian-Americans, she argues that reality television thrives and persists on the ugliest, most bigoted stories unscrupulous television producers have to sell. Funny, poignant, and seriously educational, Reality Bites Back is required reading for everyone living in the era of “reality” television. - Jennie

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values Cover Image
ISBN: 9781439171226
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Published: Free Press - September 13th, 2011

The Moral Landscape is the most optimistic book I've read all year. Harris starts with the common-sense proposition that science (any rational study of reality) can tell us what is morally right or wrong. From there, he offers the reader a machete to cut through the thorny proposition that only religious demagogues have anything universal to say about morality, and that science and liberal cultural relativists must remain forever silent—and never turn "is" propositions into "oughts". Pithy enough to quote around the dinner table, but academic enough to reference in an academic essay (especially if you tackle the 100+ pages of notes and cross-references), The Moral Landscape makes a great gift for anyone looking to think critically about moral truths. Now readers can offer no apology when they say that the worst things humanity has to offer—genocide, bigotry, and other jingoism—are wrong in principle, not opinion. As for me, I'm definitely putting Harris's masterwork up next to John Stuart Mill'sUtilitarianism in the philosophy section of my bookshelf. - Jennie

The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061726941
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Published: Harper Perennial - July 19th, 2011

Cullen combines climatology with sociology to present a glimpse into the future for seven areas sure to be impacted by the all-but-inevitable climate change in The Weather of the Future. Using compelling data we see how varied and extreme the results of climate change will be in different areas—Bangladesh flooded, California's agricultural industries in ruin, a melted Greenland transformed into a cornucopia of minerals ripe for the picking, and New York City battered by hurricanes. But Cullen's book is more than just 300 pages of doom-and-gloom, she also offers optimistic views of what certain communities—like the Inuit in the Arctic circle and New York's Climate Change Adaptation Task Force—have done to prepare for an intimidating future. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to connect apocalyptic headlines about melting ice to the weather patterns we might see just outside our front doors. - Jennie

How Fantasy Becomes Reality: Seeing Through Media Influence Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780195372083
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - September 1st, 2009

If Hollywood, the television, and any other media came with an instruction manual, this would be it. Dill's How Fantasy Becomes Reality is a invaluable resource for understanding the impact that media has on both individuals and society—for better or for worse. Instead of taking a reactionary or dismissive tone, Dill backs up all of her points with tons of research and psychological studies, which I found both extremely enlightening and interesting. Not only does Dill contest that fantasy has the power to shape our reality, she also presents really compelling reasons why we resist acknowledging just how much power media has over us. This book is extremely empowering: now I feel that I can made educated choices about the media I consume and preempt the ways it can affect me by recognizing the psychological tactics that used to slip under my radar. Highly highly recommended for anyone with even a passing interest in the impact of media and conscious consumption! - Jennie

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Change Your Brain, Change Your Body: Use Your Brain to Get and Keep the Body You Have Always Wanted Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307463586
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harmony - December 28th, 2010

Clinical neuroscientist, psychiatrist and brain imaging expert Daniel G. Amen, who is featured on PBS Channel 8, has recently written Change Your Brain, Change Your Body. His rational program considers the emotional nature of weight-loss, with treatment that leads to emotional balance and increased focus, and points to physical exercise as "a natural wonder drug for the brain." Amen offers ways to improve our own brain activity and suggestions for working with our health-givers. He combines brain-scan research with down-to-earth suggestions for dietary regimens and simple hints to gaining self control. He offers a well-rounded approach—one step at a time! - Pinna

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Opium Fiend: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345517838
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Villard Books - June 26th, 2012

Opium Fiend opens with one of the most harrowing chapters you're likely to read this year: a graphic description of Steven Martin's attempt to kick his thirty-pipe-a-day opium habit cold turkey. I challenge you to read it and not feel compelled to continue. Martin, the world's foremost authority on opium antiques, goes on to detail how his compulsion to collect the accouterments of this once pervasive drug—pure chandu, not lesser and, in Martin's view, more barbaric opiates like heroin—led to his nearly lethal detox attempt, from which he was rescued by Jean Cocteau's advice from 1930: "Do not persist. If you delay too long, you will no longer be able to take your equipment and roll your pipe. Smoke. Your body is waiting only for a sign." It wouldn't be Martin's last relapse. Along the way we learn much about the British Opium Wars, opium in nineteenth-century America, opium eradication efforts worldwide, and Martin's single-minded passion as a collector, which allowed him to assemble one of the most exquisite collections of opium accessories in the world. In some ways it's easy to romanticize the exotic world Martin conjures for us. But looming over his tale of travel, adventure, lavish opium dens, and paraphernalia of ivory, hammered silver, jade, and precious gems, is the stark reality of addiction, social isolation, and a yearning for an idealized past that slowly morphs into a hellish present. Also recommended: Martin's first book, The Art of Opium Antiques. - Brandon 

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God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Cover Image
ISBN: 9780446697965
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Published: Twelve - April 6th, 2009

Hitchens isn’t the first writer to unleash a blistering (and bestselling) anti-religion polemic in recent years, but his is easily the most fun to read. In God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, he makes mincemeat of every sacred cow that lumbers across his path, never once yielding to the traditional—and in his view, dangerous—habit of respectful deference in matters of religious debate. When his pen flashes from its scabbard, heads roll. The result is one of the more biting and entertaining manifestos in the growing literature of the atheism movement. - Brandon 

Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594631955
Availability: Backordered
Published: Riverhead Books - October 1st, 2013

Ronson is that rare journalist who transcends his usual medium (The Guardian) to become something greater: a fantastic narrative non-fiction writer. In this book, he departs from his usual format of longer investigative pieces to present a collection of his best satirical and self-deprecating works. Each of his subjects may live crazy lives, but Ronson is a master at finding the humanity in every uncanny circumstance. Highlights include an interview of the rap duo known as the Insane Clown Posse, who claim that they've been inserting Christian subtext into their ultra-violent cult music for years, and Ronson's hilariously awful attempt to live like James Bond -- in which he discovers that fine dining and hard drinking result in not-so-suave stomach woes. - Jennie