Anthologies usually are a mixed bag. If half the essays are interesting, you are doing pretty well. And there's always at least one that is a total waste of time.
This is the exception we hope for. There is not a page of the book that doesn't either illuminate an exciting idea, provide a useful fact, or suggest a promising course of action. Every sort of thing is here from the course-defining DNC speech of Barack Obama to a list of topics you could hook Letters to the Editor on for various holidays. (Mother's Day? Social Security, Medicare, Parenting.)
The book is divided into three sections and ten topics. The first section analyzes what has happened. It asks some hard questions, like what it might cost us to adopt Conservative means to our Liberal ends ("Fighting Dirty"). There is a handful of tough essays in here, like Michael Lerner's on Liberal contempt for the electorate (which is significantly different from, though no bigger than, Conservative contempt for the electorate). But the overall message is one of hope and optimism. The last section emphasizes organizing and suggests ways to do it.
This book and George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant (also from Chelsea Green) will pay for themselves in a few hours. We got angry; now it's time to get active. Start Making Sense will provide some direction.
You don't really know what happened until the books come out. And this is the first book I've seen on what happened in the last election from the point of view of the Democrats. It is fascinating to see what they are thinking happened. This book is not written by the main powers within the Democratic party, but of people from numerous organizations that participate within the framework of the party.
While getting their viewpoint is fascinating, unfortunately I don't believe that they have "Started Making Sense" just yet.
For instance one of the sections is on the Iraq war. The consensus is that we should pull out immediately. The comment is then made, "if they choose civil war, it will be their civil war."
Let's see what could happen. The Shiite's have most of the population, they start a genocide of the Sunni's. The Sunni's call on Syria (predominately Sunni) who responds by sending an army to kill Shiite's. The Shiite's call on Iran (predominately Shiite) who sends another army. This expands all over the Middle East, oil flow stops and gasoline goes to $100 a gallon. Not a good plan Democrats!
Further, it seems that the main complaint is that some 1,600 American soldiers have been killed. Tragic, true, but. That's about ten days of what we kill on American highways. Where is the demand for safer cars, lower speed limits, etc. It seems that these people segregate deaths into OK (car accidents) or evil (military).
There's a section in the book on environmentalism, and their mantra is the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gasses and global warming. Out here in the west where mining is king, people are very happy with the Kyoto protocol. Uranium, you see, has gone from $6 to $21 and the mines are going full boom. Nuclear reactors don't give off any greenhouse gasses. It appears that somewhere between 100 and 200 new nuc's are going to be built in the next few years. Is this really what the environmentalists had in mind?
Like I said, it is fascinating to see what these people are thinking and well worth reading the book. But as for making sense, not yet.