• Review: “An Impassioned Spokesman for Those with No Voice”

    May 5, 2014

    Posted in: #99Percent, Economy, Minimum Wage

    Lisa Ranger, on Amazon, wrote this review of Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percent:

    Mr. Van Buren takes us on a dark journey not to some strange dystopia, but to a dismal and grimy world inhabited by a sizable slice of 21st century America. You won’t see these characters on “Dancing With the Stars”, but they are far more ubiquitous than those inhabiting the trifles the media would feed you.This world wreaks of desperation, inhabited by people who can’t quite hang on to the edge of the socio-financial cliff. This is not beach reading, but is something you need to read and to understand.

    In the tradition of the early 20th century Naturalists, Ghosts reads like an update of Frank Norris’s McTeague (later filmed as “Greed”). The unprivileged in life begin with aspirations and hope, but are ground down by a relentless indifference. Under pressure, people begin to gnaw at each other as well as themselves, like pit bulls throw into the exhibition ring, and this vicious preoccupation serves their overlord’s needs well.

    The book mirrors the ugly reversion to world of the robber-barons we are witnessing today, as power and money coalesce in the upper stratosphere, who know how to game the system, while the middle class continues its inexorable decline into the lower-middle echelon and inevitably, the ranks of the poor.

    The world that the protagonist inhabits allows no escape. He can afford neither to live, nor to die — a Hobson’s Choice.

    Let Mr. Van Buren be your guide in the Ghosts of Tom Joad. He speaks from experience, and is an impassioned spokesman for those with no voice. As he has proven with his previous book, We Meant Well, he is an acute observer and scribe of the things those in power would not like for you to see.

    Kudos, Mr. Van Buren. We will await your further forays down into the zeroes. It is not pretty, but it is a duty we are glad you’ve assumed.

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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      05/5/14 12:28 PM | Comment Link

    • eyeswideshut said...


      Who is the impassioned spokesperson for those in DOS with no voices, or voices no one wishes to hear:


      Sounds a lot like:
      An investigator for the Diplomatic Security Service subsequently launched an investigation into similar allegations against four other members of Clinton’s security detail but was ordered by Kimber Davidson, chief of the special investigations division, and Rob Kelty, his deputy, to shut down the investigation, the memo says.
      Davidson now runs ALL investigations; normally into the ground just look at the india case. And Kelty is still in this special investigations division. Shameless. No one speaks for the whistleblowers. Move along, trying to hide what there is to see here.

      05/5/14 4:58 PM | Comment Link

    • Lisa said...


      It’s all true, Peter.

      McTeague’s brutal realism affected me deeply, and I see the resonance today. Rousseau’s “gentle” primitive is as much a fabrication as Jefferson’s indwelling “inalienable rights”.

      When profit is the bottom line, technology is burgeoning (as is its way), and the little guys are not taught how to innovate, it seems inevitable that the titans of industry will maintain their choke hold on power/money and have no interest in a fair distribution of assets to the “ne’er do wells” (as they see it.)

      Almost no one is honest. If we look at our nation’s founding, we see a vested interest in a bifurcated society. The intent of public education was merely to allow workers to be able to fit into slots onto the shop floor without lopping off a hand, thereby rendering themselves worthless.

      What beliefs fuel our foundation? Not so much moral ones as a sense of predestination and entitlement. Manifest Destiny and the City on the Hill. When religion does appear, it tends to be of the Calvinist strain that some are “elect” and favored by God, and that’s that.

      I don’t see an easy antidote to staving off the increasing concentration of wealth and poverty.

      05/5/14 7:09 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote:”I don’t see an easy antidote to staving off the increasing concentration of wealth and poverty.”unquote

      I do. Kill the bankers. Kill the ruling class. Start over.

      05/5/14 9:32 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Dear Eyeswideshut — wasnt a new head of DS recently appointed?

      05/6/14 12:25 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...


      How can you say such a thing?
      Violence is never the answer.
      jim hruska

      05/6/14 1:46 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “This world wreaks of desperation, inhabited by people who can’t quite hang on to the edge of the socio-financial cliff.”

      The Mexican cartels are job creators:


      05/8/14 10:17 AM | Comment Link

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