Monday, July 02, 2007

They Walk Among Us

I'm always interested in the extent to which leftist authors and commentators are actually represented in the supposedly left-wing media. Needless to say, the numbers are quite negligible. Exceptions include members of the Democratic Socialists of America, such as syndicated columnist Harold Meyerson (at the Washington Post, of all places), Barbara Ehrenreich, and Cornel West. These are hardly hard-left authors, it's worth noting, and I generally share their views.

Nowadays, however, I notice that Jeremy Scahill's Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army has enjoyed some critical and commercial success. According to the book's official website, Blackwater debuted at #9 on the New York Times non-fiction hardback list back in April. I have heard interviews with Scahill on "Fresh Air" and other sources. Now I see that Scahill delivered an acerbic speech at the 'Socialism 2007' forum in Chicago. Scahill's success is no small feat in today's decidedly conservative and moderate book market.

When was the last time a similarly left-wing book met with such acclaim? Here's the New York Times' current best-seller lists for hardcover non-fiction and paperback non-fiction for points of reference. (And no, Al Gore's #3 book doesn't count.) Anybody have any other examples? I think it's kind of cute when they manage to sneak in like Scahill.


Blogger The Sheriff said...

Well your example of Schiall's book brings to mind PW Singer's Corporate Warriors which I believe got some pretty wide audience, even though it's not left per se, Singer hardly has to be vitriolic in the book to make the insidiousness of our 21st century "whores of war" evident. Chomsky I suppose is another example of someone who gets good sales/press and is on the left, and maybe to a lesser extent Michael Mann, who I think did ok with some of his newer stuff...Over all I have to agree with you though.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Scantron said...

Chomsky is a solid example but I think that's more like "consistently popular on a smaller scale." The Mann book "Incoherent Empire" was popular for a bit, I think. It's one of those Verso books that actually cracks the surface quite a bit (other examples: Anderson's "Imagined Communities," maybe [?] Mike Davis' stuff). Oh, and I totally forgot Hardt and Negri.

11:56 PM  
Blogger The Sheriff said...

Me too, Multitude got big press, I saw it in an airport once. IN AN AIRPORT

9:44 AM  

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