The Latest Books: A Roundup

The Latest Books: A Roundup

The L.A. Times Festival of Books popculturegeek.com

Here at NAC, we receive dozens of books each year. Unfortunately, we don’t have the space to review all of them, but several have come in lately that we believe deserve special mention. Here, a collection of new and interesting titles about urbanism, sustainable development and social justice.

The Paradoxes of Integration: Race, Neighborhood, and Civic Life in Multiethnic America
by J. Eric Oliver
The University of Chicago Press, available for purchase at Amazon

In this slim volume, J. Eric Oliver, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, uses an abundance of data to argue that the effects of integration differ tremendously depending on which geographical level one is examining. Living among people of other races in a larger metropolitan area corresponds with greater racial intolerance, particularly for America’s white majority. But when whites, blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans actually live in integrated neighborhoods, they feel less racial resentment. As the metropolitan region becomes the cornerstone of American urban policy, this book both illuminates the current political climate and informs the future of integration and cities.

Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight without Oil
Revised and updated edition
by Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl
New Society Publishers, available for purchase here

Gilbert, a consultant, and Perl, director of Urban Studies at Simon Fraser University, combine their expertise to prescribe some solutions to our dependence on oil for transport, including the use of wind to power water transport, radical changes to aviation and increased use of direct-powered vehicles. Combining current data with lessons from the past, the authors lay out not only solutions but also the political and economic advantages of leading the way in transport-related innovation.

On the Grid: A Plot of Land, an Average Neighborhood, and the Systems that Make Our World Work
by Scott Huler
Rodale, available for purchase here

In his sixth book, Huler, a Raleigh-based journalist, sought to understand how basic infrastructure works, and started in his own home to examine the waste management systems, electrical connections and cable lines that underlie everything we do. In each chapter, he follows an element of infrastructure back to its source, visiting power plants, following sewage, and tracking water, garbage and wireless signals. He also administers an implicit warning: Much of our country’s infrastructure is old and crumbling. Here, Huler does his best to get the grid back on our radar.

Working for Justice: The L.A. Model of Organizing and Advocacy
Eds: Ruth Milkman, Joshua Bloom, Victor Narro
Cornell University Press, available for purchase here

This edited volume, which came out in April, includes eleven case studies of recent low-wage worker organizing campaigns in Los Angeles, and makes the case for an “L.A. Model” of union and worker center organizing. The editors argue that Los Angeles has come up with a better social justice strategy than other urban areas, and that unions there have weathered the effects of deregulation and deindustrialization relatively well.

Thriving Beyond Sustainability: Pathways to a Resilient Society
by Andres R. Edwards
New Society Publishers, available for purchase here

There are plenty of books detailing the dire condition of our relationship with the environment; rather than focus on the many problems surrounding sustainability, Andres Edwards focuses on turning challenges into opportunity in this slim and useful guide. As he identifies a number of successful projects and ideas from around the world, Edwards covers commerce, green design and ultra-local sustainability efforts. At the end of each chapter, Edwards presents concise, bullet-pointed steps for taking action, useful for everyone from the individual hoping to cut his carbon footprint to the serious activist. Add this to pages and pages of links to local, national and international resource groups, and you have one of the more practical and positive sustainability tools available.

Environmental City: People, Place, Politics, and the Meaning of Modern Austin
by William Scott Swearingen, Jr.
University of Texas Press, available for purchase here

This book looks at Austin’s history of eco-activism and examines the city’s dual nature as a place that both values the environment and yet is relentlessly growing. Delving in to the history of local politics and activism, Swearingen, an urban sociologist at St. Edward’s University, looks back at cornerstone achievements such as the Save Our Springs Alliance and the creation of the Shoal Creek trail, a hike-and-bike path. By looking at the role of environmentalists in the city’s development during the second half of the twentieth century, Swearingen’s tome informs environmental battles to come.

Tags: infrastructurelos angelesanchor institutionsaustinunions

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