Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges & Joe Sacco (2012)

I decided to buy this book in part because I’ve long had a deep appreciation for Sacco’s reporting, and in part because I heard an interview with Hedges on CBC’s The Current and was impressed by his insights into the inherent contradictions of late-stage capitalism. In particular the pair wanted to write a book about what they call “sacrifice zones”, areas of the US that have been written off for the benefit of the wealthy. (Why? “Because they were first, and we’re next.”) It’s well-researched and hard-hitting, as one would expect from two seasoned war reporters, covering theft of land (Native communities in Pine Ridge, North Dakota), siege (post-industrial poverty in Camden, New Jersey), devastation (open-pit coal mining in West Virginia), modern slavery (agricultural workers in Immokalee, Florida), and revolt (the Occupy movement on Wall Street). Hedges’ analysis seems very wide-ranging and at times repetitive, leading me to feel he’s better at shorter-format writing or public speaking than this sort of longer book. The reporting itself is very strong, however, and (as mentioned in the introduction) the Occupy movement, which began just as the authors were searching for a way to wrap up this story about growing resistance to the increasingly heartless excesses of modern capitalism, served as a fitting conclusion and a note of optimism. It doesn’t matter at all to me that the tents have come down in Zuccotti Square since this book came out; the fact that so many people across North America and abroad saw that as a cause which spoke to their frustration gives me hope for more substantial change. If you don’t already see that as necessary and inevitable, this book would go a long way to convince you.