Call for Book Reviewers – Alternatives Journal

Queries Due September 18, 2009

To environmental book lovers everywhere: We need you to review the best environmental books (films or videos) of 2008/09 for our annual Environmental Books issue.

With environmental volumes now hogging the current affairs section at almost every bookstore, there are more green reading options than ever before. So Alternatives’ books will weed out the chaff and lend much-needed focus to spring and summer reading lists.

This issue will include some very brief summaries (100 words each), about 10 medium-length reviews (500 words each) and a few in-depth analyzes (1000 words each) of recently published environmental titles. We encourage you to take a look at last year’s books issue [35.3, 2008] to get a feel for our requirements.

See below for books that we have selected for review. If you have a background in the selected book topic, would like to delve into the subject further and add your perspective to the discussion, please send us a submission. We plan to publish several reviews comparing two or more books, so we urge you to consider similarly themed volumes as a “package review.” (For instance, you could review books about peak oil as a group.)

If you would like to review a publication (or perhaps a video) that is not on the list and was published no earlier than 2008, we are pleased to accept these submissions as well. We also encourage submissions for related stories that explore the state of “green” publishing. For example, would you like to write a profile of one of today’s best environmental writers?

For reviews, we invite you to send us the names of the books you would like to review, the length of the review and a short note (100 words maximum) on why you believe the book(s) is important. If you have an article idea, please describe it in 300 words or less. Please include a brief bio (50 words maximum), and if you have not written for Alternatives in the past, please provide us with an example of your writing.

In return for your review, you will receive a copy of the book and the magazine.
*Please send submissions to Fraser Los <> by September 18, 2009.*

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 visit our website to read our contributors’ guidelines (scroll down for book review guidelines).

Alternatives publishes reviews of academic and non-specialist books, films, music and websites for a primarily Canadian environmental audience.

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
Reviews will be edited for length, style and clarity.
Reviewers are invited to keep and enjoy the books they review.

Book List for Alternatives Environmental Book Review Issue
Alcohol Fuel
Author: Richard Freudenberg
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Year: Feb-09
Summary: Alcohol Fuel is a practical, grass-roots book that will give readers all the information they need, covering every aspect of making and using ethanol for fuel.
Pages: 192

A Reef in Time
Author: J.E.N. Veron
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Year: Nov-09
Summary: Veron presents the geological history of the reef, the biology of coral reef ecosystems, and a primer on what we know about climate change. He concludes that the Great Barrier Reef and, indeed, most coral reefs will be dead from mass bleaching and irreversible acidification within the coming century unless greenhouse gas emissions are curbed.

Beyond the Bubble: Imagining a new Canadian Economy
Author: James Laxer
Publisher: BTL Books
Year: Oct-09
Summary: With the onset of the current economic crisis, one chapter in the economic history of the world is ending and a new one is beginning. What role will Canada play in this vastly altered world?
Pages: 264

Biology Under the Influence
Author: Richard Lewontin and Richard Levins
Publisher: Monthly Review Press
Year: 2008
Summary: “In this major collection of essays, Lewontin and Levins range from the Human Genome Project and evolutionary psychology to Cuban agriculture. Throughout, their work is illuminated by an insistence on a dialectical understanding of biology from the molecular to the socio-ecological. In rejecting reductionist understandings, they offer important insights into how biology – and science in general – could be reconceptualized in the service of human liberation.”
Pages: 304

Bothered by My Green Conscience
Author: Franke James
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Year: 2009
Summary: Using her signature style of lively drawings mixed with photos and hand-drawn text, artist Franke James shows how we can meet the global warming challenge with imagination and creativity.
Pages: 160

Breakthrough Communities
Author: ed., M. Paloma Pavel
Publisher: MIT Press
Year: Aug-09
Summary: This book describes current efforts to create sustainable communities with attention to the "triple bottom line" – economy, environment, and equity – and argues that these three interests are mutually reinforcing.
Pages: 456

Changing Climates in North American Politics
Author: ed., Henrik Selin and Stacy D. VanDerveer
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Year: Sep-09
Summary: This book is the first to examine and compare political action for climate change across North America, at levels ranging from continental to municipal, in locations ranging from Mexico to Toronto to Portland, Maine.
Pages: 352

Climate Change in the 21st Century
Author: Stewart J. Cohen and Melissa W. Waddell
Publisher: McGill-Queen’s University Press
Year: Nov-09
Summary: Climate Change in the 21st Century brings together all the major aspects of global warming to give a state-of-the-art description of our collective understanding of this phenomenon and what can be done to counteract it on both the local and global scale.
Pages: 400

Climate Cover-Up
Author: James Hoggan, Richard Littlemore
Publisher: Greystone Books
Year: Sep-09
Summary: This book rips the lid off the campaign to discredit scientists, confuse journalists, and deny climate change.
Pages: 224

Climate Wars
Author: Gwyn Dyer
Publisher: Random House
Year: Oct-08
Summary: These are some of the expected consequences of runaway climate change in the decades ahead, and any of them could tip the world towards conflict. Prescient, unflinching, and based on exhaustive research and interviews, Climate Wars promises to be one of the most important books of the coming years.
Pages: 288

Community Conversations
Author: Paul Born
Publisher: BPS Books
Year: 2008
Summary: Full of informative and inspiring examples of collab
oration, Community Conversations, a new Tamarack book by Paul Born, captures the essence of creating such conversations and offers ten practical techniques to host conversations in your community.
Pages: 240

Complexity Theory for a Sustainable Future
Author: Edited by Jon Norberg and Graeme Cumming
Publisher: Colombia University Press
Year: Apr-08
Summary: Focusing primarily on natural resource management and community-based conservation, the book features contributions by leading scholars in the field, many of whom are among the leaders of the Resilience Alliance.
Pages: 312

Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict Between Global Conservation and Native Peoples
Author: Mark Dowie
Publisher: MIT Press
Year: 2009
Summary: Dowie tells the story of indigenous groups around the world who were displaced in the name of conservation, and how modern environmentalists should embrace a people-centered form of conservation.
Pages: 341

Creating Vibrant Communities
Author: Paul Born ed.
Publisher: BPS Books
Year: 2008
Summary: This book tells the story of people across the country who are approaching poverty in a positive, creative, and energetic way. They are doing so courtesy of a new social phenomenon called Vibrant Communities: a network of people who are getting people together – citizens (no matter what their income), community developers, business people, and representatives from all levels of government — to determine needs, community assets, and strategies. They’re putting plans into action with astonishing results.
Pages: 456

Critique of Intelligent Design
Author: John Bellamy Foster
Publisher: Monthly Review Press
Year: 2008
Summary: critique of religious dogma historically provides the basis for rational inquiry into the physical and social world. Critique of Intelligent Design is a key to understanding the forces of irrationalism challenging the teaching of evolution in US public schools and seeking to undermine the natural and social sciences.
Pages: 240

Ecoholic Home
Author: Adria Vasil
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Year: Oct-09
Summary: This highly anticipated follow-up to the massively successful Ecoholic focuses on the home as the mainstay of sustainable living.
Pages: 384

Ecology Without Nature
Author: Timothy Morton
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Year: Sep-09
Summary: Ecology Without Nature investigates our ecological assumptions in a way that is provocative and deeply engaging. Ranging widely in 18th-century through contemporary philosophy, culture and history, he explores the value of art in imagining environmental projects for the future.

Environmental Conflict and Democracy in Canada
Author: Laurie Adkin ed.
Publisher: UBC Press
Year: May-09
Summary: The contributors to this path-breaking collection argue that environmental conflicts are always about our rights and responsibilities as citizens, and the quality of our democratic institutions. They offer 16 case studies that range from First Nations resistance to the coastal-fisheries crisis, to regulatory battles over genetically modified crops, and to the implications of suburban sprawl.
Pages: 392

Gaia in Turmoil
Author: ed. Eileen Crist and H. Bruce Rinker
Publisher: MIT Press
Year: Nov-09
Summary: Gaian theory, which holds that Earth’s physical and biological processes are inextricably bound to form a self-regulating system, is more relevant than ever in light of increasing concerns about global climate change. The Gaian paradigm of Earth as a living system, first articulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, has inspired a burgeoning body of researchers working across disciplines that range from physics and biology to philosophy and politics.
Pages: 352

Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the Story of the Death and Life of Great American Cities
Author: Glenna Lang and Marjory Wunsch
Publisher: David R. Godine Publisher
Year: Apr-09
Summary: Here is the first book for young people about this heroine of common sense, a woman who never attended college, but whose observations, determination and independent spirit led her to far different conclusions than those of the academics who surrounded her.
Pages: 127

Getting a Grip
Author: Frances Moore Lappé
Publisher: Small Planet Media
Year: 2007
Summary: Why are we as societies creating a world that we as individuals abhor? Lappé posits that US culture is grounded in a worldview of scarcity, creating a society of competitive materialists who practice a Thin Democracy of electoral politics in a one-rule market economy that returns wealth to wealth and leads to an ever-increasing concentration of power.
Pages: 208

Green Recovery
Author: Andrew Winston
Publisher: Harvard Business Press
Year: 2009
Summary: Your Company’s Green Guide to Surviving the Recession – and Thriving in the Upturn
Pages: 194

Green Sisters
Author: Sarah McFarland Taylor
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Year: Sep-09
Summary: Green Sisters gives us a firsthand understanding of the practice and experience of women whose lives bring together Catholicism and ecology, orthodoxy and activism, traditional theology and a passionate mission to save the planet.

Hijacking Sustainability
Author: Adrian Parr
Publisher: MIT Press
Year: 2009
Summary: The idea of “sustainability” has gone mainstream. Parr describes how this happened and how the goals of an environmental movement came to be mediated by corporate interests, government and the military.
Pages: 209

Living Green
Author: Jennifer Foskett and Laura Mamo
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Year: 2009
Summary: Social issues are, and need to be, a central part of environmental and economic sustainability efforts. Using stories of extraordinary communities across North America, Living Green showcases the social side of living green.
Pages: 197

Making the Most of the Water We Have
Author: David B. Brooks
Publisher: Earthscan
Year: Jul-09
Summary: This book is the first to present and apply the water soft path approach. It has three aims: to bring to a wider audience the concept and the potential of water soft paths; to demonstrate that soft path analysis is analytical and practical, and not just “eco-dreaming;” and to indicate that soft paths are not only conceptually attractive but that they can be made economically and politically feasible.
Pages: 274

Native Peoples and Water Rights
Author: Kenichi Matsui
Publisher: House of Anansi Press
Year: May-09
Summary: Through a combination of field work and archival research, Kenichi Matsui offers an original and pioneering overview of the evolution of water law and agricultural policies in the Canadian west.
Pages: 264

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 t
heir 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

Social Change 2.0
Author: David Gershon
Publisher: Chelsea Green
Year: Sep-09
Summary: If "change" is the mantra of our moment in history, Social Change 2.0 may be poised to become its bible. Drawing on his three decades in the trenches of large-scale societal transformation, David Gershon—founder and president of Empowerment Institute, and described by the United Nations as a "graceful revolutionary"—offers an original and comprehensive roadmap to bring about fundamental change in our world.
Pages: 416

Speaking for Ourselves
Author: Julian Ageyman et al.
Publisher: UBC Press
Year: May-09
Summary: Speaking for Ourselves draws together scholars and activists – Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, established and new – who bring equity issues to the forefront by considering environmental justice in specifically Canadian cases and contexts and from a variety of perspectives, including those of First Nations and women. Could this be paired with the one about needing to include social issues?
Pages: 292

Stupid to the Last Drop
Author: William Marsden
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Summary: Stupid to the Last Drop looks at the increasingly violent geopolitical forces that are gathering as the world’s gas and oil dwindle and the Age of Oil begins its inevitable slide towards oblivion.
Pages: 256

Tar Sands
Author: Andrew Nikiforuk
Publisher: Greystone Books
Summary: Andrew Nikiforuk’s Tar Sands is a critical exposé of the World’s largest energy project – the Alberta oil sands – that has made Canada one of the worst environmental offenders on earth.
Pages: 208

The Big Picture
Author: David Suzuki & Dave Robert Taylor
Publisher: Greystone Books
Year: Apr-09
Summary: David Suzuki and Dave Robert Taylor look beyond our environmental problems to examine the forces that are preventing real change.
Pages: 272

The Bridge at the End of the World
Author: James Gustav Speth
Publisher: Yale University Press
Year: Mar-09
Summary: In a monumental work of synthesis, Speth proposes solutions large enough to make a difference. His view is a broad one that recognizes the connections between environmental issues and other issues of human welfare such as health, freedom, peace, stability and community.

The Carbon Footprint Wars
Author: Stuart Sim
Publisher: Colombia University Press
Year: Aug-09
Summary: The Carbon Footprint Wars identifies the many dangers inherent in the projected solutions: such as retreating from the spread of globalization and the current socio-economic paradigm for world trade. The war of words that is being waged over the appropriate way to deal with our collective carbon footprint has critical implications for us all.
Pages: 240

The Climate Challenge
Author: Guy Dauncey
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Year: Nov-09
Summary: The Climate Challenge draws on working solutions from around the world, and lays out the best actions for students and scientists, musicians and mayors, policy-makers and presidents, showing how it is possible to reduce our carbon footprint to almost zero by 2040.
Pages: 320

The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet
Author: John Bellamy Foster
Publisher: Monthly Review Press
Year: 2009
Summary: Foster demonstrates that the only possible answer for humanity is an ecological revolution: a struggle to make peace with the planet. Foster details the beginnings of such a revolution in human relations with the environment, which can now be found throughout the globe, especially in the periphery of the world system, where the most ambitious experiments are taking place.
Pages: 328

The Ecotechnic Future
Author: John Michael Greer
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Year: Oct-09
Summary: In response to the coming impact of peak oil, John Michael Greer helps us envision the transition from an industrial society to a sustainable ecotechnic world – not by returning to the past, but by creating a society that supports relatively advanced technology on a sustainable resource base.
Pages: 288

The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism
Author: Barry Sanders
Publisher: AK Press
Year: 2009
Summary: Based on research culled from documents released and leaked by the military, this is the first book to provide a comprehensive account of the relationship between American militarism and ecological destruction.
Pages: 183

The Raw Milk Revolution
Author: David E. Gumpert
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishers
Year: Oct-09
Summary: The Raw Milk Revolution takes readers behind the scenes of the government’s tough and occasionally brutal intimidation tactics, as seen through the eyes of milk producers, government regulators, scientists, prosecutors and consumers. It is a disturbing story involving marginally legal police tactics and investigation techniques, with young children used as political pawns in a highly charged atmosphere of fear and retribution.
Pages: 288

The River Returns
Author: Christopher Armstrong, Matthew Evenden and H.V. Nelles
Publisher: McGill-Queen’s University Press
Year: Nov-09
Summary: Millions of tourists and residents know the Bow River as it tumbles through Banff’s spectacular scenery or carves an elegant arc through the City of Calgary. Fewer people know the Bow as a heavily engineered, hard-working river.
Pages: 544

The Sacred Universe
Author: Thomas Berry
Publisher: Colombia University Press
Year: Sep-09
Summary: A leading scholar, cultural historian and Catholic priest who spent more than 50 years writing about our engagement with the Earth, Thomas Berry possessed prophetic insight into the rampant destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species.
Pages: 200

The Transition Handbook
Author: Rob Hopkins
Publisher: Chelsea Green
Year: 2009
Summary: We live in an oil-dependent world, and have got to this level of dependency in a very short space of time. Most of us avoid thinking about what happens when oil runs out, but The Transition Handbook shows how the inevitable and profound changes ahead can have a positive outcome.
Pages: 240

The Wayfinders
Author: Wade Davis
Publisher: House of Anansi Press
Year: Oct-09
Summary: Over the past decade, many of us have been alarmed to learn of the rapidly accelerating extinction of our planet’s diverse flora and fauna. But how many of us know that our human cultural diversity is also going extinct at a shocking rate? In The Wayfinders acclaimed anthropologist Wade Davis offers a gripping account of this crisis.
Pages: 240

Transportation in a Climate-Constrained World
Author: Andreas Shafer et al.
Publisher: MIT Press
Year: 2009
Summary: Transportation in a Climate-Constrained World presents the first integrated assessment of factors affecting greenhouse gas emissions from passenger tr
Pages: 384

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

What Next?
Author: Chris Patten
Publisher: Viking Canada
Year: Aug-09
Summary: What Next? tackles the big questions about our global condition and collective future with a verve and authority no other commentator could match. Energy, food, water, weapons proliferation, climate change, epidemic disease – the challenges themselves are proliferating.
Pages: 288

Who Owns the Arctic?
Author: Michael Byers
Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
Summary: In the highly readable book Who Owns the Arctic, Michael Byers, a leading Arctic expert and international lawyer explains the sometimes contradictory rules governing the division and protection of the Arctic and the disputes that remain unresolved.
Pages: 144

Please ensure that you include:
1. Your name
2. Your phone, address and email
3. Your bio (50 words max)
4. 100 words on why you think the book is important
5. Sample of your writing if you have not written for Alternatives before
*Please send submissions to Fraser Los <> by September 18, 2009.*

Fraser Los
Assistant Editor
Alternatives Journal
Faculty of Environment
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
Phone: (519) 888.4442
Fax: (519) 746.0292

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