About Me

Credit: David Lance Goines

I've lived in Berkeley for over 20 years: I'm the girl in shabby black clothes who is always carrying a book. Hmm, that could describe half of Berkeley.

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Michael Parenti: Author and Public Intellectual

Michael ParentiMichael Parenti is a well-known Berkeley author and man-about-town. I often spot him at Crixa Cafe, holding an impromptu salon. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities, in the United States and abroad,  and he was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Parenti’s work has been recognized with awards from Project Censored, the Caucus for a New Political Science, the city of Santa Cruz, New Jersey Peace Action, the Social Science Research Council, the Society for Religion in Higher Education, and other organizations. In 2007 he received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from U.S. Representative Barbara Lee. He is the author of 23 books, and his articles have appeared in scholarly journals, political periodicals and various magazines and newspapers. He is often invited to discuss current issues and ideas on radio and television talk shows. His books, which have been used extensively in college courses, include Superpatriotism (2004), The Cultural Struggle (2006), God and His Demons (2010), Democracy for the Few (9th ed. 2011),and The Face of Imperialism (2011).

How long have you lived in Berkeley?

A little over 21 years.

How long does it take you to write your books? Is there anything you need to accomplish or prepare first?

The time needed to write a book varies with the length of the book, the amount of research needed, and the scope of topics. One or two of my books have taken only 6 months; other ones 10 months; other ones over a year.

Do you interact with other writers in Berkeley? How did the local community of artists or the cultural milieu in the Berkeley influence your work?

When I wrote The Assassination of Julius Caesar, I consulted with two authors who had special training in classical studies; one lived in Berkeley, the other was just passing through. I usually work alone.

How did the local community of authors or the cultural milieu in the Berkeley influence your books?

Not much with the possible exception of the two mentioned above.

What other activities, events, or other cultural resources could support and encourage your work?

Using the UC Berkeley library and Berkeley downtown library main branch for scholarly materials. That’s about it. My work is mostly solitary; though I do have people read the finished manuscript to catch bloopers, offer suggestions, etc.

Do you feel that people in Berkeley need opportunities targeted to their niche interests to participate in culture, or should there be more opportunities that invite broad inclusion?

Not sure I know the answer to that.

Any other thoughts on how to build cultural communities in Berkeley?

Not really.


Michael Parenti’s most recent book is Waiting For Yesterday: Pages from a Street Kid’s Life.

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