CALL FOR BOOK REVIEWERS – Alternatives Journal

Proposals due October 15, 2008
(Scroll down for list of books and other media available for review.)
THE MONTHS have flown by, and it is time to start planning for Alternatives’ annual spring issue on the best in environmental books and writing. We are looking for reviewers to join us in writing about some of the latest and most innovative environmental books released in the last year.
The crop of environmental books hitting bookstores is big enough to make even the most avid reader’s head spin. With so much to chose from, Alternatives’ books issue will leave readers with a rich and complete reading list. Excerpts from recent titles and complementary essays on environmental literature will flesh out the diverse collection of reviews.
The issue will include a series of very brief summaries (100 words each), medium length reviews (500 words each) and a few in-depth analyses (1000 words each) of recently published environmental titles. We encourage you to take a look at last year’s books issue (34.2, 2007) to get a feel for our requirements.
The list below is not exhaustive, but it includes a selection of books for review that are currently in Alternatives’ office. If you have a well-rounded grasp on a book topic, a desire to extract and analyze the pearls of wisdom for a broad audience, and an engaging pen, then we look forward to receiving your offer to review one, or a pair, of the books below. If you are interested in reviewing a worthy book, video or other media that is not on the list and was published in 2008, or if you have an idea for a related article on environmental books and writing, we are pleased to accept these submissions as well.
We invite you to send us the names of the books you would like to review, in order of preference, the preferred length of the review and a short note (100 words maximum) on why you believe the book is important. If you have not written for Alternatives in the past, please also provide us with an example of your writing and a brief bio (50 words maximum).
In return for your review you will receive a copy of the book and the magazine.
PLEASE SEND YOUR PROPOSAL TO taarini @ by October 15th, 2008.
Alternatives combines the learned rigour of an academic journal with the breezy style of a magazine. We aim to publish the best environmental writing in the country – writing that is engaging, thought-provoking and insightful. We avoid predictability.
Before responding to this call for submissions, please read several back issues of the magazine so that you understand the nature of our publication. We also suggest you go through the detailed guidelines below and visit our website (
Alternatives publishes reviews of academic and non-specialist books, films, music and websites for a primarily Canadian environmental audience. We print short reviews (100- words) that highlight new and noteworthy books, as well as longer reviews (600-750 words) that offer a critical assessment of the book(s) under consideration. Occasionally, we publish review essays (1000-1200 words) on a collection of recent, related publications. We rarely review books more than two years old.
Submission Procedure
Alternatives considers completed reviews, and routinely circulates a list of books available for review. If you wish to receive these book review requests, please notify our Assistant Editor at taarini @
Reviews will be edited for length, style and clarity.
Reviewers are invited to keep and enjoy the books they review.
Ensure that your review addresses these questions: What is this book about? Who should read it? What will they learn? Your audience may never read the book themselves; ensure that you succinctly report its main arguments and conclusions. Do not provide a chapter- by-chapter description of its structure, but rather outline the overriding themes and suggest why the book is useful and/or interesting.
A longer review (600-750 words) should bring a critical eye to the book and discuss how successfully the book achieves its goals: Is the argument well taken? Is the information accurate? Are there things missing? Will this book have an impact on environmental discussion and practice in Canada or internationally? Should it?
If the book is not likely to have a significant impact, or if it does not make particularly innovative or interesting arguments, perhaps it is not worth reviewing. If this is your impression, please contact the assistant editor (taarini @ before you complete your review.
Put the book information at the top of the review, in the following format: Title, Author, City: Publisher, Year, # pages.
Provide a one-sentence biography at the end of your review, beginning with your name.
(e.g., Jane Smith is associate professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at….)
For office use, please provide your full name, email address and mailing address as well as the word count of your review.
[DVD] Hijacked Future
Director: David Springbett
Production Company: Ashnan Films
Year: 2008
Summary: Who controls the seed, controls the food. Looks at the increasingly fragile base of our North American industrial food system in order to bring all of us consumers of food to a better understanding of just what’s at stake with our daily bread.
Time: 43.20 min.
[DVD] Water Detectives
Director: David Springbett
Writer: Heather MacAndrew
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada
Year: 2007
Summary: Grade 4 to 7 students in Matamoros, Mexico, are put in charge of changing adult attitudes and habits after a severe water shortage.
Pages: 11 min 30 sec
A Contract With the Earth
Author: Newt Gingrich and Terry L. Maple
Publisher: John Hopkins
Year: 2007
Summary: Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, argues for a need for bipartisan environmentalism – a new era of environmental stewardship with principles that they believe most Americans will share.
Pages: 207
Aldo Leopold’s Odyssey: Rediscovering the author of A Sand County Almanac
Author: Julianne Lutz Newton
Publisher: Island Press
Year: 2008
Summary: Illuminates the great conservationist’s lifelong quest for answers to a fundamental question: how can people live prosperously on the land and keep it healthy, too? More than a biography, the work is a guide to one person’s intellectual growth and to our ongoing struggle to live in concert with the natural world.
Pages: 504
An Explorer’s Notebook: Essays on Life, History and Climate
Author: Tim Flannery
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Year: 2008
Summary: The Weather Makers catapulted Tim Flannery’s name into global consciousness; now he is known as one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change. But he didn’t just come into his knowledge and interest overnight. With its selection of exhilarating essays and articles written over the past 25 years, An Explorer’s Notebook charts the evolution of a young scientist doing fieldwork in remote locations to the major thinker who has changed the way we all view our actions in the face of global warming.
Pages: 320
A Voice for Earth: American Writers Respond to the Earth Charter
Author: Peter Blaze Corcoran and A. James Wohlpart (eds.)
Publisher: The University of Georgia Press
Year: 2008
Summary: A Voice for Earth is a collection of poems, essays, and stories that together give a voice to the ethical principles outlined in the Earth Charter. The Earth Charter was adopted in the year 2000 with the mission of addressing the economic, social, political, spiritual, and environmental problems confronting the world in theh twenty-first century.
Pages: 148
Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future
Author: Jeff Goodell
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Year: 2007
Summary: Examines growing dominance of coal as a solution to energy independence from oil, emphasizing how deadly and environmentally destructive the coal mining industry has been and looking to solutions to moving beyond coal.
Pages: 324
Branded! How the ‘Certification Revolution’ is Transforming Global Corporations
Author: Michael E. Conroy
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Year: 2008
Summary: Making responsible social and environmental choices has not always been a first priority for many corporations. Recently, small but mighty NGOs, using 21st century global communications, are nipping at the heels of corporations, moving these companies toward the higher standard now demanded by their clients, consumers and society as a whole. The lever that moves these giants is the risk of destroying their carefully built ‘brands’ if they fail to recognize their ‘moral liability’ and clean up their practices.
Pages: 352
Canadian Water Politics: Conflicts and Institutions
Author: Mark Sproule-Jones, Carolyn Johns, B. Timothy Heinmiller (eds.)
Publisher: McGill – Queen’s University Press
Year: 2008
Summary: Canadian Water Politics explores the nature of water use conflicts and the need for institutional designs and reforms to meet the governance challenges now and in the future. The editors present an overview of the properties of water, the nature of water uses, and the institutions that underpin water politics. Contributors highlight specific water policy concerns and conflicts in various parts of Canada and cover a wide range of issues.
Climate Chaos: Your Health at Risk: What you can do to Protect Yourself and Your Family
Author: Cindy L. Parker and Steven M. Shapiro
Publisher: Praeger Publishers
Year: 2008
Summary: The authors explain our possible physical and mental responses to such climate change factors as heat stress, poor air quality, insufficient water resources, and the rise of infectious diseases fueled by even minor increases in temperature. Actions that can prevent or reduce climate change’s harm are presented in each chapter.
Pages: 216
Communities, Livelihoods and Natural Resources: Action Research and Policy Change in Asia
Author: Stephen R. Tyler
Publisher: International Development Research Center
Year: 2006
Summary: Synthesizes results of a seven-year program of applied research on community-based approaches to natural resource management in Asia.
Pages: 420
Conservation for a New Generation: Redefining Natural Resources Management
Author: Richard L. Knight, Courtney White (eds.)
Publisher: Island Press
Year: 2008
Summary: The book brings together leading voices in the field of environmental conservation to offer fourteen chapters and twelve case studies that demonstrate the benefits of government agencies partnering with diverse stakeholders, explore how natural resources management is evolving, discuss emerging practices for conservation, and promote cooperation on natural resource issues.
Pages: 272
Design Charrettes for Sustainable Communities
Author: Patrick M. Condon
Publisher: Island Press
Year: 2008
Summary: Design Charrettes is a practical manual that provides step-by-step instructions to show how citizens and officials can use this tool to accomplish complex design decisions that create more green, clean and equitable communities.
Pages: 166
Dry Spring: The Coming Water Crisis of North America
Author: Chris Wood
Publisher: Raincoast Books
Year: 2008
Summary: Dry Spring shows dramatically how water loss will devastate countless communities over the next 25 years. We meet people coping with the new weather. In the years to come, Canada will get more water and the US less. Wood demonstrates what this will mean for political relations.
Pages: 376
Eating Fossil Fuels: Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture
Author: Dale Allen Pfeiffer
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Year: 2008
Summary: Eating Fossil Fuels examines the interlinked crises of energy and agriculture. Drawing on the experiences of North Korea and Cuba to demonstrate stories of failure and success in the transition to non-hydro-carbon-based agriculture, it urges strong grassroots activism and a natural shrinking of the world’s population.
Pages: 144
Electric Water: The Emerging Revolution in Water and Energy
Author: Christopher C. Swan
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Year: 2007
Summary: Electric Water offers a vision of a near future where quality of life is dramatically improved for all without drastic scalebacks. The vision is based on technology- solar energy, water purification, transportation and eco-restoration-that already exists.
Pages: 204
Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power
Author: Mark Schapiro
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishers
Year: 2008
Summary: Strict consumer-safety regulations have forced multinationals to manufacture safer products for European consumers, while lower U.S. standards allow them to continue selling unsafe products to Americans. Schapiro’s exposé shows that short of strong government action, the United States will lose not only its ability to protect citizens from environmental hazards but also, as economic priorities shift, whatever claim it has to commercial supremacy.
Pages: 224
Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World
Author: Christopher Mark O’Brien
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Year: 2006
Summary: O’Brien reveals how “beer activists” around the globe are leading the sustainability movement
Pages: 276
Food, Sex, and Salmonella: Why our Food is Making Us Sick
Author: David Waltner-Toews
Publisher: Greystone Books
Year: 2008
Summary: In this look at foodborne diseases, David Waltner-Toews brings is tales of the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that have made their way into our food supply. He explores the global patterns of foodborne disease, from ciguatera toxins in fish to pandemics of Salmonella, and the changes in climate, culture, agriculture, and trade that have led to the emergence of new diseases and epidemics.
Pages: 243
Author: John Knechtel, ed.
Publisher: The MIT Press
Year: 2008
Summary: Writers and artists imagine the transition to a carbon-free future and the radical reinvention of energy that would make it possible.
Pages: 320
Fuelling Our Future: An Introduction to Sustainable Energy
Author: Robert L. Evans
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 2007
Summary: Provides a concise overview of current energy demand and supply patterns and then presents a balanced view of how our reliance on fossil fuels can be changed over time so that we move to a much more sustainable energy system in the near future.
Pages: 180
Gaia’s Revenge: Climate Change and Humanity’s Loss
Author: P.H. Liotta and Allan W. Shearer
Publisher: Praeger Publishers
Year: 2007
Summary: Explores the meaning of climate change while maintaining a strategic perspective on international, national and human security and focusing on the social, political and human impacts.
Pages: 194
Genetically Modified Diplomacy: The Global Politics of Agricultural Biotechnology and the Environment
Author: Peter Andrée
Publisher: UBC Press
Year: 2007
Summary: Genetically Modified Diplomacy traces the emergence of a key outcome of this struggle- the 2000 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety- and the discourse of precaution toward GEOs that the protocol institutionalized internationally.
Pages: 292
Global Environmental Challenges: Perspectives from the South
Author: Ed. Jordi Diez and O.P. Dwivedi
Publisher: Broadview Press
Year: 2008
Summary: In Global Environmental Challenges, a collection of experts examines globalization’s multiple effects on the environments of countries in the Global South, and how they are addressed both domestically and internationally.
Pages: 308
Global Environmental History
Author: I. G. Simmons
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Year: 2008
Summary: Examining the state of flux of both the natural environment and the living organisms that inhabit it, I. G. Simmons’ book ranges from 10 000 BCE to the modern day to present an incredibly rich deep time overview of how we have come to our current state of ecological crisis.
Pages: 288
Institutions and Environmental Change: Principal Findings, Applications, and Research Frontiers
Author: Oran R. Young, Leslie A. King, Heike Schroeder (eds.)
Publisher: The MIT Press
Year: 2008
Summary: Institutions and Environmental Change is the product of a decade-long international research project on the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) carried out under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme. The book’s policy insights demonstrate that research on institutions can provide the basis for practical advice on effective ways to deal with the most pressing environmental problems of our times.
Pages: 400
Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World
Author: Andrew Weaver
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Year: 2008
Summary: Keeping Our Cool is a comprehensive and engaging examination and explanation of global warming, with a specific emphasis on climate change in Canada. Weaver explains the levels of greenhouse gas emissions needed to stabilize the climate and offers solutions and a path toward a sustainable future.
Pages: 288
More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want
Author: Robert Engelman
Publisher: Island Press
Year: 2008
Summary: The three way dance between population, women’s autonomy and the natural world is as old as humanity itself.
Pages: 302
New Models for Ecosystem Dynamics and Restoration
Author: Richard J. Hobbs, Katharine N. Suding (eds.)
Publisher: Island Press
Year: 2008
Summary: Conceptual models based on alternative stable states and restoration thresholds can help inform restoration efforts. This work brings together experts from around the world to explore how conceptual models of ecosystem dynamics can be applied to the recovery of degraded systems and how recent advances in our understanding of ecosystem and landscape dynamics can be translated into conceptual and practical frameworks for restoration.
Pages: 512
Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change
Author: Peter Newman, Timothy Beatley, Heather Boyer
Publisher: Island Press
Year: 2008
Summary: Are the world’s cities headed for inevitable collapse? The authors of this book don’t believe that oblivion is necessarily the destiny of urban areas. They present four possible outcomes for cities: “collapse,” “ruralized,” “divided,” and “resilient.” In response to their scenarios, they articulate how a new ‘sustainable urbanism’ could replace today’s ‘carbon-consuming urbanism.’ They address in detail how new transportation systems and buildings can be feasibly developed to replace our present low-efficiency systems. In conclusion, they offer ten ‘strategic steps’ that any city can take toward greater sustainability and resilience.
Pages: 200
Rocks and Hard Places: The Globalization of Mining
Author: Roger Moody
Publisher: Fernwood Publishing
Year: 2007
Summary: Demonstrates the heavy toll large-scale mining has on local communities, challenging the industry’s claim to sustainability.
Pages: 213
Silence of the Songbirds
Bridget Stutchbury
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Year: 2007
Summary: Migratory songbirds are disappearing at an alarming rate; by some estimates we have already lost half the songbirds that filled the skies 40 years ago. Bridget Stutchbury demonstrates why this decline should concern us all.
Stuffed and Starved
Author: Raj Patel:
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2008
Summary: Stuffed and Starved asks us to think about the way our food comes to us, to understand how our supermarket shopping makes us complicit in denying freedom to the world’s poorest and to recognize how we ourselves are poisoned by our choices. It is an investigation into the “haves” feeding off the “have-nots,” and a compelling look at how we all suffer the consequences of a food system cooked to a corporate recipe.
Pages: 448
Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent
Author: Andrew Nikiforuk
Publisher: Greystone Books
Year: 2008
Summary: Readers will learn that tar sands burn more carbon than conventional oil, destroy forests and displace woodland caribou, poison the water supply and communities downstream, drain the Athabasca, the river that feeds Canada’s largest watershed, and contribute to climate change. The book does provide hope, however, and ends with an exploration of possible solutions to the problem.
Pages: 208
The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth
Author: Mark Anielski
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Year: 2007
Summary: Economist Mark Anielski has developed a new and practical economic model called Genuine Wealth. Wealth, to measure those real determinants of well-being and help redefine progress. This model has been used with enormous success in many communities, corporations and in countries all over the world.
Pages: 252
The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment
Author: Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich
Publisher: Island Press
Year: 2008
Summary: In this book, renowned thinkers and scientists Paul and Anne Ehrlich take readers on an exploration of evolution, environment, and culture. From the complex workings of our genes to what we eat and how we govern ourselves, we are changing our world and our world is changing us. We are creating the future. But, what kind of future, ask the authors, are we creating?
Pages: 440
The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World?
Author: Joel Kovel
Publisher: Fernwood Publishing
Year 2007
Summary: Capitalism and its by-products – imperialism, war, neoliberal globalization – are all playing a part in the destruction of our ecosystem. Only now are we beginning to realize the depth of the crisis and the kind of transformation that will have to occur to ensure our survival. By suggesting a new way forward, a new kind of ‘ecosocialism’, Kovel offers real hope and vision for a more sustainable future.
Pages: 342
The Global Food Economy
Author: Tony Weis
Publisher: Fernwood Publishing
Year: 2007
Summary: The battle for the future of farming. What are the human and ecological costs of what we eat.
Pages: 217
The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food
Author: Wayne Roberts
Publisher: Between the Lines
Year: 2008
Summary: With spiraling food prices and spreading social unrest, this is a timely guide to the instability of industrialized food systems. Roberts traces the history of food production and consumption, and shows that in a system dominated by supermarkets and agribusiness real food choices are becoming harder to make.
Pages: 180
The Oppsable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking
Author: Roger Martin
Publisher: Harvard Business School
Year: 2007
Summary: What distinguishes a brilliant leader from a conventional one? In this book, Roger Martin shows that brilliant leaders are skilled at Integrative thinking- the ability to hold two opposing ideas in their mind at once, and then reach a synthesis that contains elements of both but improves on each.
Pages: 191
The Reluctant Land: Society, Space, and Environment in Canada before Confederation
Author: Cole Harris
Publisher: UBC Press
Year: 2008
Summary: This work describes the evolving pattern of settlement and the changing relationships of people and land in Canada from the end of the fifteenth century to the Confederation years of the late 1860s and early 1870s.
Pages: 512
The Shadows of Consumption: Consequences for the Global Environment
Author: Peter Dauvergne
Publisher: The MIT Press
Year: 2008
Summary: An environmentalist maps the hidden costs of overconsumption in a globalized world by tracing the environmental consequences of five commodities.
Pages: 328
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Author: Naomi Klein
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Year: 2008
Summary: In this book, Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, The Shock Doctrine is the story of how America’s ‘free market’ policies have come to dominate the world – through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.
Pages: 672
Toxic Exposures: Contested Illnesses and the Environmental Health Movement
Author: Phil Brown
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Year: 2007
Summary: Focusing specifically on breast cancer, asthma, and Gulf War-related health conditions, Brown shows how these concerns have launched an environmental health movement that has revolutionized scientific thinking and policy. He argues that organized social movements are crucial in recognizing and acting to combat environmental diseases.
Pages: 356
Urban Meltdown: Cities, Climate Change and Politics as Usual
Author: Clive Doucet
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Year: 2007
Summary: Points out critical issues in urban growth and climate change including lack of environmental accountability, political attitudes and the need for new governance at all levels.
Pages: 251
Taken By Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming
Author: Christopher Essex & Ross McKitrick
Publisher: Key Porter Books
Year: 2007
Summary: The physical phenomena in climate and weather are among the most complex in nature. Science can say very little about what they will do in the future. Yet a large international policy framework has been built precisely on the assumption that we know what is happening and how to control it. The authors prove this assumption false, carefully explaining the science of climate change and deconstructing the simplistic concept of global warming.
Pages: 356
Water, Place, and Equity
Author: John M. Whiteley, Helen Ingram, Richard Warren Perry (eds.)
Publisher: The MIT Press
Year: 2008
Summary: This book argues that fairness in the allocation of water will be a cornerstone to a more equitable and secure future for humankind. With analyses and case studies, it demonstrates that considerations of equity are more important in formulating and evaluating water policy than the more commonly invoked notions of efficiency and markets.
Pages: 312
Where Our Food Comes From: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov’s Quest to End Famine
Author: Gary Paul Nabhan
Publisher: Island Press
Year: 2008
Summary: Nabhan weaves together Vavilov’s story with his own expeditions to Earth’s richest agricultural landscapes and the cultures that tend them, drawing a portrait of changes that have occurred since Vavilov’s time and why they matter. In his travels, Nabhan shows how climate change, free trade policies, genetic engineering, and loss of traditional knowledge are threatening our food supply.
Pages: 256
You Are Here: Exposing the Vital Link between What We Do and What That Does to our Planet
Author: Thomas Kostigen
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Summary: Thomas M. Kostigen reveals the vital missing link in today’s environmental crisis: how we as individuals are connected to the most tenuous geography on the planet. The seemingly insignificant things we do every day have the power to literally alter the landscape in the ongoing battle to resuscitate the planet.
Pages: 272

Now on newsstands
Ways to test it; business and sustainability — ways to cut (and see through) the greenwash; and two way way out essays on Nanotechnology, and Thinking Like an Ecosystem.
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Nov. 17 * Reserve your tickets today.
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Alternatives Journal
Canadian Environmental Ideas and Action
Faculty of Environmental Studies
University of Waterloo
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
phone: 519-888-4545; fax: 519-746-0292

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