From the Stacks: July 27, 2007

| July 2007

Utne Reader's library is abuzz with a steady flow of 1,500 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, zines, and other lively dispatches from the cultural front that are rarely found at big-box bookstores, newsstands, or even online. So we share the highlights (and occasional lowlights) of what's landing in our library each week in 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the latest edition.

The August issue of Sojourners enters the heated debate over nuclear power, with editor Jim Rice methodically exploring several major concerns. Though some environmentalists continue to tout nuclear energy as a cheap and easy way to cut carbon emissions, Rice argues that nuclear power plants still pose a significant threat to people's health and to the environment. He advocates for a 'democratization' of energy sources based on greater efficiency and sustainability. Also in the issue, editor in chief Jim Wallis interviews New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who is known for his consistent reporting on the world's most vulnerable people, from Cambodian sex workers to Darfuri refugees. '[Y]ou really can't just forget about these people you meet,' Kristof says, 'when it's so easy to make a difference.' -- Eric Kelsey

Bidoun challenges contemporary notions of the Middle East through its discerning arts and cultural coverage, aiming to 'bring together cultural expressions from a vast and nuanced region.' In the Summer installment of the quarterly magazine, Gary Dauphin examines John Walker Lindh, who made headlines as the 'American Taliban' after he was caught fighting against US forces in Afghanistan. According to Dauphin, Lindh can be understood as a modern example of Norman Mailer's famous archetype, the 'White Negro,' because of his penchant for hip-hop and African American culture that 'bordered on the obsessive.' Bidoun was awarded two Utne Independent Press Awards in 2006, capturing top honors for best design and best social/cultural coverage. -- Eric Kelsey

Econews succeeds in covering many environment-shaping stories that fly under the radar of most other media sources. The informative, northern California-based newsletter of the nonprofit Northcoast Environmental Center draws attention to the local ecological issues of the Northwest, with an eye to national policies as well. The July issue highlights several influential news stories, such as the recent Supreme Court decision that grants states the authority to issue water permits, allowing developers to bypass the environmental protections of the Endangered Species Act. The issue also takes note of President Bush's proposal to construct 30 new nuclear plants by the year 2010 as a 'solution' to global warming. -- Natalie Hudson
Fight These Bastards poetry magazine, published by Platonic 3way Press, comes out swinging in the 'fight against the mind-numbing poetry' of more traditional literary journals. In the magazine's fourth issue, poetry-haters may be encouraged by the no-nonsense philosophy expressed in Dan Sklar's poem 'How It Is,' which opens with 'Don't be / profound. / Don't be / insightful.' Fight These Bastards is a fount of diverse, frank, readable, and assertive poetry like Sklar's. Also in the issue, Wisconsin poet Michael Kriesel writes a guest editorial detailing his experience with the art of the haiku, explaining the 'sometimes fuzzy' distinction between haiku and senryu.
?-- Julie Dolan

'What is Iraq, anyhow?' In the midst of World War II, the US military issued 'A Short Guide to Iraq,' republished this year as Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq During World War II (Chicago University Press, 2007), to offer a window into Iraqi culture for the soldiers stationed there. When speaking of Iraqis, the guide dispenses advice that's still pertinent nearly 65 years on. For example: 'Respect his religion as he will respect yours,' and 'remember that every American soldier is an unofficial ambassador of good will.' Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl, who served in Anbar in late 2003 and wrote the new foreword for the book, explains: 'It is almost impossible, when reading this guide, not to slap oneself on the forehead.' This short guide powerfully illustrates how much the military knew -- and, lamentably, how much it forgot.
-- Bennett Gordon

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