Survive and Resist: The Definitive Guide to Dystopian Politics

Columbia Univ. Aug. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9780231188906. $90; pap. ISBN 9780231188913. $30ebk. ISBN 9780231548069. POL SCI
Politics meets popular culture in this lively, often lighthearted study. Political scientists Shames (Rutgers Univ.–Camden; Out of the Running) and Atchison (Valparaiso Univ., IN) survey novels, films, and TV series that dwell on dystopian themes, asserting that they can help explain the rise of authoritarianism. In addition to George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, other popular works discussed include Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, and the 1982 film Blade Runner. Film directors such as Mel Brooks and Charlie Chaplin are also cited. Several chapters are devoted to remedies (e.g., political checks and balances and nonviolent action), while another chapter focuses on economic theories. The tone frequently shifts from casual discussion to academic discourse, and many sidebars with graphics and comparisons of real-life dictatorships with their fictional counterparts keep the work engaging. Each chapter ends with a brief and helpful “final thoughts” recap.
VERDICT This book will have broad appeal to readers who appreciate the intersections of pop culture and politics and is a worthy complement to Barbara Brodman and James E. Doan’s Utopia and Dystopia in the Age of Trump.

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