Books Digest – A Blue New Deal and More


Welcome to our weekly Books Digest where we round up the new books you should and shouldn’t read. This week features A Blue New Deal by Chris Armstrong, Female Innovators Who Changed Our World by Emma Shimizu, Hitler’s National Socialism by Rainer Zitelmann and The Founders by Jimmy Soni.

For more books, take a look at our Books Digest archive.

A Blue New Deal: why we need a new ocean policy by Chris Armstrong (Yale), £16.59.

bill bowket

“The ocean is in crisis,” writes Professor Chris Armstrong in A blue New Dealan intriguing new book about how Earth’s life support – which “average citizens probably know little about” – is under threat.

Using a range of political and oceanographic literature, Armstrong details how humans are about to destroy our marine environment through everything from overfishing to climate change.

He argues that the current system, particularly the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, fails to protect ecosystems and that leaders are moving too slowly on issues we all face, like rising sea levels. . What is the solution?

In A blue New Deal, Armstrong argues that we need a new approach, putting “sustainability at the heart of ocean policy.” For too long, governance has been dominated by two opposing ideas: the freedom of the high seas (the mindset of those who exploit precious resources) and the enclosure theory, which allows “wealthy landowners to expel the “commoners”.

Countries and companies are doing their part to make a difference, such as pledging to cut emissions and plastic pollution, but the book says they are not moving fast enough. The application is needed in the form of a federalist “World Oceans Authority”. It’s here that A blue New DealThe argument falters. Its “radical” vision, similar to the Antarctic Treaty, would ensure that 80% of all waters are protected from interference.

How would this idealistic organization work in practice? It would only legitimize the vested interests of the wealthier nations, who would probably play the main role in its direction. Moreover, Armstrong fails to explain how his “radical” vision would affect our livelihoods. The question of “what impact would this have on seafarers and subsequently on the global economy?” goes unanswered, making for an unconvincing ending to a thought-provoking read.

Women Innovators Who Changed Our World: How Women Shaped STEM (Women Pioneers) by Emma Shimizu (Pen & Sword Books Ltd), £11.05.

Lily Pagano

What names come to mind when you see the word science? Einstein, Faraday, and Newton are just a few of the famous male figureheads in the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). History, however, is not short of innovators, as Emma Shimizu illustrates in this new book.

From the world of decoding and chemistry to that of design and technology, we are invited into the lives and work of 46 incredible women in STEM. Each chapter covers a different area of ​​science and is divided into concise summaries of the lives of these innovative women – some names proving familiar, others brand new.

While the biases these women face and the challenges they encounter are clear, these scientists are highlighted for their accomplishments, not their gender. They are not “women” scientists, but simply scientists who “withstood the scrutiny of the international scientific community”, thus earning their place in history.

Shimizu’s passion for the world of STEM is contagious. Innovators is as much a celebration of science as it is a call to recognize the forgotten female voices of STEM.

Hitler’s National Socialism by Rainer Zitelmann (Management Books), £27.99.

Gerald Warner

Dr. Rainer Zitelmann has produced a comprehensive and thorough investigation of National Socialism, revealing new insights into Hitler’s personality and thought along the way, in this authoritative and informative account. His most significant conclusion is that Hitler was more viscerally anti-capitalist than most historians have realized.

The standard portrayal of Hitler as hand in hand with the deluded business leaders who initially yearned to control him suited post-war left-wing narratives, but Dr. Zitelmann shows that Hitler gradually became radicalized, at the ultimately point to admiring Stalin’s command economy. It disproves the idea that the Night of the Long Knives marked Hitler’s break with his radical past.

Zitelmann argues not only that Hitler arrived at a consistent Weltanschauung, but that he had a more informed understanding of economics than is generally assumed. He remained a revolutionary, with a ferocious hatred of reactionaries; his attitude towards the French Revolution, as Zitelmann shows, was strangely ambivalent, although he most often identified with it.

There is room for further investigation into Jacobinism as the ancestor of National Socialism. One delusion that cannot survive exposure to exhaustive studies such as Dr. Zitelmann’s is the canard that Nazism was “right-wing”, when it was undoubtedly another variant of the pathogen. of totalitarian socialism.

The Founders: Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and the company that created the modern Internet by Jimmy Soni (Atlantic Books), £15.79.

William Atkinson

The founders is a stereotypical version of a well-known subject. It focuses on the so-called “PayPal Mafia” – figures such as Peter Thiel, Elon Musk and Max Levchin who founded and ran the online transfer company during its difficult early years. Jimmy Soni’s book asks how a single company produced such a collection of distinctive innovators and, therefore, treads the same ground as all the other Silicon Valley biographies.

Focusing on the period 1998-2002 when PayPal grew from love child of financial services company Confinity and online payment site of Elon Musk, until its IPO in 2002 and subsequent purchase by eBay. Soni traces the personality clashes, entanglements with competitors, and brave choices of a team working against the grain during the dot com boom.

The basic story is intriguing, but the constraints of the formula – enterprising crackpots, contrarian thinking, and big money – prevent Soni from asking serious questions. If it was PayPal’s disruptive style that allowed it to thrive, why was it worth 30 times more after a decade as an eBay subsidiary? It’s a question Soni never dares to ask. At least he got to spend three hours interviewing the richest man in the world before flying off to Mars.


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