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As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial#A Graphic Novel Paperback – November 6, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; 10.2.2007 edition (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583227776
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583227770
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #765,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up–This simply drawn graphic satire is largely message-driven, but the message is still entertaining and thought-provoking. As the lighthearted lead character shares what governments, corporations, and activists tell individual Americans to do to save the Earth, her cynical counterpart exposes the futility of these simple solutions. The truth is, even if each and every one of us switched to compact fluorescent bulbs and became vegetarians it would only be a drop in the bucket compared to the damage corporate and government policies are doing to the world environment. The story that binds these notions together is an upcoming alien invasion and a renegade bunny trying to end animal experimentation. The characters are crudely drawn with bare sets, but this style works in a tale in which the words are carrying so much weight. (The politicians have sharper teeth than the bears.) This book doesn't offer up any real answers to what is clearly portrayed as a frightening state of affairs–it includes an animal uprising. However, it will inflame teens' passion about the environment and possibly open more eyes.–Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD
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"McMillan's expressive style, pared down to the basics and intensified over the years, allows for instant communication of thoughtful rage. . . a fast-moving page-turner."–The Comics Journal

"In As the World Burns the large scope and indictment of every facet of society is, to say the least, thought-provoking."–Cleveland Free Times

"Readers exasperated with, or just plain tired of, simplistic guides offering purportedly quick and easy ways to resolve global warming and other momentous concerns of the day will delight in this razor-sharp critique packaged as a cute-kid-and-funny-animal cartoon... Jensen and McMillan roll critical thinking and well-structured graphic-novel storytelling into a compelling whole."–Booklist

"A compelling message and an expressive artwork."–The Sylvanian

"As the product of the creative marriage of activist philosopher Derrick Jensen and political cartoonist Stephanie McMillan, As the World Burns displays trademark qualities of both professions:the big ideas and calculated statistics of Jensen's and the witticism and quirky characterization of McMillan's."–World Literature Today

"A sharply worded satire that delivers a litany of reasons why our culture's alienation from the wild is literally paving the way to global destruction."–North Coast Journal

"Jensen takes the complexity of anti-civilization philosophy and distills it down to one important message. If we can't stop destroying everything, soon we’ll have destroyed everything."–Slingshot

"In As The World Burns, satire bites through the sharp vampire-pointed teeth of McMillan's corporate overlords...initially, the graphic novel's underlying message may seem heavy-handed and preachy, but the writing is so acutely entertaining that the message doesn't feel force-fed...Plus, the drawings are so darn cute."–Broward/Palm Beach New Times

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Customer Reviews

One and a half stars.
Kerry Walters
We see the enemy and it is us, ...but mostly its them.
Howard M. Switzer
Highly recommended for adults as well.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on January 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
The anarcho-primitive activist and post-civilization philosopher Derrick Jensen really knows how to make an impact. Readers who agree with his general philosophy need not agree with every single one of his positions, though you can't deny that he's very effective at advancing them with deft use of persuasion and polemics. This tongue-in-cheek graphic novel came as a bit of a surprise, because I assumed that the "stay in denial" portion of the title would be directed at anti-environmentalists. On the contrary, the book is actually directed at environmentalists who have fallen for popular rhetoric about how their individual actions (recycling, buying new light bulbs, driving a hybrid, etc.) may actually make a major difference in the health of the planet. I don't totally agree with Jensen's disdain for personal virtue, but it's hard to deny that casual environmentalism detracts attention from the true causes of the world's problems. The status quo in business, economics, and politics is the real problem, and to save the planet we might just need a revolutionary structural overhaul of modern civilization. While this fictional story is simplistic and a bit forced, and comes nowhere near the intelligence and emotion of Jensen's other works, as an entertaining graphic novel the message is quite compelling. The low-key but expressive artwork of political cartoonist Stephanie McMillan surely adds to the effect. Perhaps this type of quick-hitting storytelling, rather than lengthy technical and philosophical screeds, will inspire caring folks to take real action. [~doomsdayer520~]
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Format: Paperback
Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan's As the World Burns is a revolutionary graphic novel decrying the failure of the green movement. We have become a self-congratulatory society of "green" consumers, recyclers, yogi mediators, and letter-writers. Utilizing pigtailed girls, a one-eyed eco-revolutionary bunny, and a wise bird, the authors expose the fallacies of patting ourselves on the back as we continue down an unsustainable consumption path headed straight for world destruction. Some quick math performed by Kranti (a character from McMillan's Minimum Security cartoon) reveals that even if everyone (100% of the US population) changed our light bulbs, recycled half our total waste, cut our driving in half, installed low-flow showerheads, and adjusted our thermostats by two degrees, the end results would be a ONE-TIME 21% reduction in carbon emissions, which given our current rate of growth, would be offset in 10 years.

The real culprits in our ecocide? Corporations and the government they have in their pockets. And what are they doing? Running marketing campaigns and releasing movies to convince individual consumers to take the blame. In As the World Burns, a former-politician-turned-activist conspires with corporations to distract individuals from the systemic predicament, knowing full well that green consumers will pay more to feel good about themselves.

As the World Burns is much more than sharp dialogue about the futility of eco-friendly consumerism. Aliens have also arrived on the planet, intent on eating up all Earth's resources, and expecting to have to fight the planet's current residents.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Howard M. Switzer on November 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
Another excellent work from Derrick Jensen. The so-called green movement is being co-opted by the very mega corporations who are doing the destroying of the planet. They make the big decisions, they rig the elections, they own the mass media and public mind control technologies, they control the economy, the money and they will not stop. Al Gore described part of the problem and told us what we can do, but Derrick does the math. If every man woman and child did them all, and they never would, it only adds up to 21% of the carbon that the US spews. The rest comes from the mega industries and their carbon spew increases about 2% per year so that savings won't last long. Buying green products will not save the planet. We need to find a way for people to understand that they are being bamboozled so they can step into their own power. For those who will say this book is short on solutions I say that is because there really isn't going to be any solution until a lot of people quit believing all the green-wash hype. How we get everyone talking to one another and getting out of our mass denial, so we can do something effective, is the project that we need to focus on. Derrick has described what we are denying, now we have work to do. We see the enemy and it is us, ...but mostly its them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By CLWriter on January 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
This graphic novel presents a satiric view of the most destructive elements of our society: human beings, especially the ones who are devoted to money, progress, and technology. The story line follows a disparate group of characters: space alien robots, corporate CEO's, government functionaries, children, a "terrorist" bunny named Bunnista, and an assorted cast of various animals, plants, and even fish. The first panels depict two girls discussing why changing your light bulbs and recycling bottles aren't enough to save the planet. The plot thickens as space alien robots pay corporate and government agencies for the right to consume all the earth's resources (except for a token 70 trees, 70 rocks, 70 fish, etc.) Bunnista releases animals from a research lab, the authorities round up ALL rabbits in retaliation, and the scene is set for a big confrontation between rabbits, animals, children, and indigenous people against the evil forces of the aliens/government who wish to annihilate all life forms that do not directly lead to corporate profit.

The comic-style drawings are amusing, appealing, and at times heartbreaking, as when a little bear says goodbye to his mother as she runs off to do battle with the aliens. There is most definitely a message in this fine stew of eco-tragicomedy: Jensen and McMillan have teamed up to provide a rationale for activism that goes beyond putting a few things in the recycle bin each day.

This graphic novel would work well for high school students, 14 and up. Art classes, history or government classes, leadership classes, journalism classes, or literature classes could hold some fine discussions after reading this book, or selections from it. Teachers could assign students to create their own social commentary by way of a comic strip or graphic novel. Highly recommended for adults as well. Danger: this book will make you feel as well as think!
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