Where do you get your information from? How can I find out more?
Most of the information in QRT comes from non-fiction books about history, politics, foreign policy, economics, etc. Non-fiction books have a couple of benefits over newspapers. The first is that the commercial relationship between you and the author is relatively simple: you are paying the publisher and author directly, without any advertiser or other third party paying to interfere with content. The other is simply that a book has enough space to develop a complex argument even if the reader isn’t familiar with its background.
Here are some recommendations of accessible non-fiction authors whose work is reflected in QRT.
Noam is a professor of linguistics at MIT in Boston but has been a political activist and author since the Vietnam War. His books focus on American foreign policy (especially violent intervention) and media control in democratic societies. He wrote an important book with Edward Herman called Manufacturing Consent, which lays out a scientific hypothesis explaining how ideas that threaten elite opinion are excluded from the mainstream media. I have written a very quick summary of his hypothesis for this blog.
He is now in his eighties and has produced dozens of political books (on top of his academic work in linguistics). But many of his books (especially recently) are actually anthologies of short newspaper articles. Some others are reproductions of lecture series. In the 1970s and early 80s he wrote several dense scholarly texts that have been accurately described as “big, thick books of facts” such as Towards a New Cold War and For Reasons of State. Some of his more recent books are a bit easier going.
- Manufacturing Consent (with Edward Herman): see above. I have briefly summarised the main argument here. There is also a great documentary also called Manufacturing Consent about this part of Noam’s work. Here is an interesting conversation with Noam about the documentary.
- Understanding Power: This is based on transcripts of question-and-answer settings from a number of talks and discussion groups. It has been very well edited, so unlike other transcript-based books it is coherent and really accessible. It covers a wide range of fascinating issues and the explanations are short, to-the-point and conversational in tone and style.
John started out as a documentary film-maker, initially famous for reporting on the US bombing of Cambodia. Since then he has produced a large number of documentaries as well as non-fiction books and print journalism. His main interests have been in American and British foreign policy (especially violent intervention overseas) and the arms trade, with a particular focus on East Timor (Timor Leste) and the occupied Palestinian territories.
- The War You Don’t See: 2010 documentary about the Second Iraq War and occupation
- The New Rulers of the World: an older book (2003) that covers Iraq, East Timor (Timor Leste) and the Australian treatment of aboriginal citizens (John is Australian, but has lived in the UK for most of his career).
Greg became an American investigative reporter after two decades working as an investigator of corporate fraud. He writes for the (London) Guardian, reports for the BBC and has written a number of non-fiction books about his research. Among his key interests are US election fraud, political and corporate corruption in America and the UK, and the (malevolent) role of the IMF and World Bank in the global economy. He interviewed Joseph Stiglitz after he resigned as Chief Economist at the World Bank in order to expose the World Bank and IMF’s activities.
- The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: Explains exactly how the 2000 US election was fixed to get GW Bush into office.
George is a Guardian columnist and environmental activist. He writes about the environment, global warming, corporate corruption, globalisation and global democracy.
- The Age of Consent: A proposal for a set of democratic global institutions based on a world parliament, clearing union and free-trade organisation. He describes this as the “least-worst system”, necessary to regulate multinational corporations across national borders.