Questionable Sources Mar Intriguing Premise. This book’s general premise – a strategy for the American Right to lean in to its traditional principles, ignore “Climate Change”, and yet still manage to out-green the American Left – is a truly intriguing idea, one Klar has clearly put quite a bit of thought into. His general plan does in fact read like a Republican was trying to put together exactly that type of plan, but in a fairly realistic, “this is actually politically viable” manner. (Rather than the “pie in the sky” so many demagogues of all stripes generally propose.)
What calls this book into question are the sources it uses – two, in fact, that I’ve reviewed before and which have proven to be questionable themselves (Chris Smaje’s October 2020 book A Small Farm Future and Shanna Swan and Stacey Colino’s February 2021 book Count Down). Citing either one as what the author considers to be legitimate evidence would be enough for a star deduction on its own, and thus the two star deduction here.
This review of Small Farm Republic by John Klar was originally written on April 1, 2023.
Eye Opening, Yet Problematic Itself. This is a well documented work – roughly 30% of the text was bibliography, even if much of it wasn’t actually referenced in the text of the advance reader copy I read. (Perhaps that will be corrected before actual publication, so if you’re reading a fully published version circa June 2021 or later, please comment and let me know. :D) It does a tremendous job of showing the development of palm oil from regional subsistence level agriculture to today’s modern arguably Big Palm level industry, and how it spread from regional staple to in seemingly every home in the “developed” world, at minimum. It is here that the book is truly eye opening, and truly shows some areas that perhaps still need some work.
HOWEVER, the book also often lauds communists and eco-terrorists, among other less than savory characters, for the “efforts” to “combat” this scourge – and this is something that is both pervasive throughout the text and a bit heavy handed, particularly when praising a team of Greenpeace pirates who tried to illegally board a cargo ship a few years ago.
Still, even with the aforementioned pervasive praise of people who arguably truly shouldn’t be, the fact that the text does such a solid job of explaining the various issues and histories at hand alone merits its consideration. Recommended.
This review of Planet Palm by Jocelyn C Zuckerman was originally written on March 7, 2021.