Book Corner

Healing Politics, A Doctor's Journey into the Heart of Our Political Epidemic

by Abdul El-Sayed, Published 2020

Healing Politics, A Doctor's Journey into the Heart of Our Political EpidemicIn his book, Abdul addresses the insecurity and lack of trust that we all feel about the state of our country and our earth.

He describes insecurity as the real problem and then tells us how to deal with it.

For everything from the rise of fascism, food insecurity, the climate crisis, the water crisis, and a warning about what we have to do to change, his words give us hope.

And as many of us have experienced, the youth of these times give us hope.

This is a well-written, easy book to read, and Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein have praised it highly. I highly recommend it in these uncertain times.


“This is a very important book. Abdul El-Sayed disgnoses the true epidemic of our moment:  The scourge of insecurity, as we face a heartless economy and a faltering climate system”     BILL McKIBBEN

Democracy in Chains, The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America

Nancy MacLean. 2017. New York: Viking Press, 2017, 366 pp. $7.99. Available on Amazon Audiobooks and Kindle too.

Democracy in Chains

This book is about how things presently work and should work. It is about the full-throttle attack on democracy coming from the right. Barry Goldwater, the religious Evangelical Right, the White Supremacist Right, the Libertarian Right and others start the Right Wing movement. But the Radical Right that Nancy MacLean is most talking about in her book is the conspiracy funded and sponsored by billionaires like Charles and David Koch. A generation before them, Nobel Prize Economist James Buchanan founded a series of ideas and propositions to study ways to make government bend to the Right.

The most impressive part of the book is when MacLean gains access to Buchanan’s archives just as he left them in his house at the time of his death. In it there are stark plans to limit people’s voting power, subvert the public education system, eliminate Social Security and limit health care. Buchanan plans to decrease voters’ rights among the “Takers” and consolidate power and money among the “Makers” who are fabulously rich -- like the Kochs.

This influence and secrecy undermines democracy: One liberal, Jane Mayer (of "Dark Money" fame) says, "It's very worrisome to many Americans to think that the whole ideal of one man, one vote might be overwhelmed by 400 of the richest people of any political persuasion picking the next leader for them. That's just not how democracy is supposed to work." The capitalist radical right has been plotting not only to change who rules, but to fundamentally alter the rules of democratic governance. The one man, one vote might be overwhelmed by 400 of the richest people of any political persuasion picking the next leader for them. Corporate donors and the right-wing foundations and groups are only too eager to support the money-laden Radical Right. Based on ten years of MacLean’s research, Democracy in Chains tells a frightening story of right-wing academics and big money run out of control. This revealing, scholarly work of is also a call to arms to protect the achievements of twentieth-century American self-government.

The capitalist radical right has been plotting not simply to change who rules, but to fundamentally alter the rules of democratic governance. In their movement, ”government was the realm of coercion, and the market was the realm of freedom" p. 208.  Buchanan's ideas and Koch's money, have lead the libertarian right to success in its stealth takeover of the Republican Party as a delivery mechanism. Mike Pence as Vice President gives the cause a longtime loyalist in the White House. This adds too a group of Republicans in the House, the Senate, a majority of state governments, and the courts, all carrying out the "plan".

Read this book, or at least watch the author on You Tube. There is a very good interview with her by Ralph Nader on You Tube.

Reviewed by Bill Scharf, NMEAC Board.

Gathering Light

by Kathleen Stocking

Gathering Light

You don’t have to have been born,or even live in Leelanau County, to appreciate Kathleen Stocking’s latest book: Gathering Light. If you are lucky enough to live there she has dedicated her work to you. 

And when you read about the geology, land, culture and people, you will also learn so much about Kathleen herself, her family, her growing up in Leelanau county, and her varied and enriching experiences around the world. It explains all the effort to preserve the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Seashore. She is  a conscious observer of all that has changed, and is changing, on this peninsula and elsewhere.

I personally learned more about Hank Bailey and his long history in the county, and his perspective on the treatment of Natives, their endurance and contributions.  You can also learn about all the other families and personalities that have formed so much of the culture there.

This is a must-read for all who care about our NW Michigan environment, geology, history, and culture. Thank you Kathleen for enriching all of us!

Review by Ann Rogers, Posted August 2019.

The Overstory: A novel by Richard Powers

Published in 2018 and winner of the National Book Award.

The Overstory: A Novel by [Powers, Richard]

As mentioned in the on-cover reviews, the author has combined  "the wonders of science with the marvels of art". The Overstoryis not your typical novel or documentary.

This is the story of a group of people so different in background, economic circumstance, and health,  who have one thing in common: a growing awareness that there is a world beyond us, a world we need to learn and communicate with. It also leads them to act and resist in the destruction of that world, another lesson for us. We may not agree with all their means, but we can feel their desperation to act.

If you call yourself an " environmentalist", this is a must-read. it will inform, inspire, enrage, and hopefully push you to keep true to your commitment.

As John Muir is quoted : "We all travel the Milky Way together, trees and men...In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness".

It is now out in paperback at Horizon Books.

Review by Ann Rogers, Posted July, 2019.

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

by Daniel Ellsberg, 2017

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

Dedicated “to those who struggle for a human future”.

In 1946 Albert Einstein wrote:” The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe”.

As the author reveals from his many years of working on nuclear plans for the Rand Corporation, the U.S. and Russia both had plans for a Doomsday Machine, an expensive system that if used would bring about global destruction and death to almost everything on earth. 

The secrecy and deception about these weapons by our government , and even the policies that continue today,threaten the survival of the human species We need to know the real history of nuclear age, and have  radical changes in nuclear policy. As Ellsberg contends: “no country on earth should be trusted with nuclear weapons”. How can we tolerate the prospect of a nuclear winter? What would justify any government having or planning their use? Yet today our government is asking for yet more funding to upgrade them.

This is not for bedtime reading, but it is a must for anyone wanting to learn more of the secret working of our government and the threats proposed by the warmongers in Washington.

Review by Ann Rogers, Posted June, 2019.

Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play itself Out?

2019, by Bill McKibben

Remember Bill McKibben, the guy who came to Michigan to warn us about Climate Change in what seems like so many years ago? At that time, many of us went to the Straits of Mackinaw for a rally against Line 5 where he was a speaker.  Well, he has a new book just out called “Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play itself Out?” This is our reality right now, right here, not only someplace else. 

 While his first chapter is about hope, the rest is very bleak in offering an account of how the climate crisis, combined with new technological developments like AI and genetic manipulation threaten the very future of the human race. Even if you have read a great deal about the climate crisis, I encourage you to check out this new approach. Some folks in our high tech world think the can mitigate the problem with artificial means or by creating humans who adapt to what is coming.

   As the person who has done the most to bring this crisis to our attention,  McKibben’s books are gems, keeping us informed of what we need to be thinking about. It is supposed to come out in paperback around September; get the hard cover or watch for the lesser-priced edition.

Review by Ann Rogers, Posted May, 2019.



Lake Nation: The People and Fate of the Great Lakes

2018, by Dave Dempsey

Lake Nation: People and the Fate of the Great LakesWith nearly 45 million people living in the Great Lakes watershed area, shouldn’t we be paying more attention to what some are planning for the future, and why it matters?

Who represents these people, and who represents the water and those of us who care about it.?
The proposed sale of Great Lakes water in 1998 gave impetus to the creation of the Great Lakes Charter,but as we know, it still is not strong enough to deter greed and allow the selling of ground water to Nestle.
Now we have more challenges in pipelines, diversion, pollution  and the climate crisis.
Dave’s new book seeks answers from interviews with those who love the lakes and those who study and understand the science and ecology involved.
It is also a call to action, to make all of us citizen activists in making protection a priority.
We are all connected to the Great Lakes and all the streams, rivers and groundwater that is part of our watershed.
Now we must all speak for the waters.

Review by Ann Rogers, Posted January, 2019.

Raising Elijah

(2013) by Sarah Stein-grater

Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis (A Merloyd Lawrence Book)

Anyone who is concerned about the effects of global warming, and /or the exposure to all the toxic contamination of the environment on us and our children, would learn much from Raising Elijah. Although the author intended her writings as a way to learn how to protect children, it has a message for all of us.

Sandra is a biologist and an ecologist who became alarmed about the effects of environmental change and degradation on her 2 children and decided to teach them as much as she could without diminishing their ability to celebrate and enjoy life.

Even thought the book was published in 2011, it is just as vital today, especially if you are a parent, grandparent , teacher or child care professional.  Indeed we all need to be concerned and informed enough to take action.

Review by Ann Rogers, Posted December 2018

The Right to Be Cold

2015, written by Sheila Watt-Cloutier and forwarded by Bill McKibben.

The Right to be ColdThe book is described by the sub-title "One WEoman's Fight to Protect the Arctic from Climate Change", but it is more than that. 

It is a memoir of her growing up in the traditional, sustainable way of life of an Inuit.  She was taught the 4 values essential to their culture and life:

1.  Knowledge and respect of land and sea

2.  Responsibility of the people to the land and all its in habitants

3.  Generosity and hospitality to the extended family (as in a hunt)

4.  Individual autonomy and strength in choices

Now, the changes induced by climate change, resource extraction, and the related social and health problems such as cancer and birth defects, are threatening the very existence of the Inuit. Oil and gas drilling have a history of failure, and no connection to their culture. Proof of this is seen in the schools where oil companies are brainwashing youth by pushing the curriculum to train for vocational work. On top of all this, greenhouse gases produced outside the Arctic (mostly in the US and China) are affecting their land and waters.

All that is happening there is a barometer for what is happening to the planet. It is also a violation of the human rights of the Inuit and other Indigenous peoples. The author not only makes this connection, she has spent her life working to convince others such as the ICC-Canada and UN groups, and integrating the traditional wisdom of living sustainably where everything is connected.

This is the right story for a holistic view, and a lesson for our times.

A “courageous and revelatory memoir” (Naomi Klein) chronicling the life of the leading Indigenous climate change, cultural, and human rights advocate

Review by Ann Rogers, Posted November 2018.

The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilized World.

As Elizabeth Kolbert says, this book  is “deeply persuasive and deeply unsettling”

It is Jeff Goodell’s latest attempt to convince the few remaining climate change skeptics by traveling the world, speaking  to eye-witnesses on the front lines of change and the scientists who have been studying this for decades. One of those scientists, Jason Box, has gone to Greenland every year to study the changes, and has been interviewed by Peter Sinclair. (Remember him from our own forums on green renewable energy?)

Goodell tackles everything from the impact of fossil fuels, to climate apartheid, salinization of soils and drinking water, and the inundation of modern coastal cities and military sites.

Rising seas are re-shaping our world and will change our way of life forever. Old-fashioned engineering will only be temporary and the billions needed will be wasted.

There is no permanent solution other than working within nature’s rules.

Will we heed the warnings and change our thinking?  That remains to be seen.

Review by Ann Rogers

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

by Dan Egan, just published in 2017 Highly recommended this month 


This is a good companion reader and update on Jeff Alexander’s book, “Pandora’s Locks” which was published in 2009.

The author describes the ecological unraveling of 20% of the world’s fresh waters from the building of the earliest canals up to the present, including, mistakes by the EPA and the effects of Climate Change.

He also describes how the remedies for each malady or intrusion turned out to have consequences no one anticipated. Check out the latest on quagga and zebra mussels, the 3 varieties of Asian Carp, and the effects of toxic algae.
Both authors talk about the unplanned ecological experiments with the goal of growth at any cost. Ben Franklin in 1746 warned, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.”

Looking for solutions from the natural world are critically important for the healing and health of the lakes. The authors offer a hopeful solution. Will we heed them?

Review by Ann Rogers

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