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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking ... and hopeful
Half way through the book, you'll be mad as hell. By the end, you'll see some rays of hope.

Thurow and Kilman lay out the problem: a billion or so starving or malnourished people in the world, in spite of the fact that there is enough food to feed everyone. Then they describe the barriers to getting the food to the people who need it: greed, politics, good...
Published on August 31, 2009 by Stuart Bloom

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavily Lacking the Main Point
In the book, Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty, Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman attempt to give a historic narrative and well-researched opinion on why there are still people starving while we have the technology to feed everyone. Roger Thurow has worked for the Wall Street Journal as a foreign correspondent for twenty years. Scott Kilman also...
Published 21 months ago by John Richardson


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking ... and hopeful, August 31, 2009
By 
Stuart Bloom (Earlville, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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Half way through the book, you'll be mad as hell. By the end, you'll see some rays of hope.

Thurow and Kilman lay out the problem: a billion or so starving or malnourished people in the world, in spite of the fact that there is enough food to feed everyone. Then they describe the barriers to getting the food to the people who need it: greed, politics, good intentions gone awry, and infrastructure/technical issues. Finally, they describe some of the ongoing efforts to overcome or end-run the barriers, and they lay out what needs to happen for the great vision of Jesus in Matthew 25 - the least being fed - to come to fruition. An important read, yet an interesting read and an easy read.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable progress in agriculture, not foreign aid, August 2, 2009
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A wonderful, readable, engaging treatise on the positive strategies for fighting hunger in a world of plenty. Basicall, the altruistic idea of "give a man a fish" does not work very well, despite its best intentions, especially if you are in the business of selling fish. Sound odd or ironic? Not really. When foreign aid in the form of free grain from American farmers arrives too late in a famine area, the local farmers are unable to sell their own product. What appears to be compassionate charity is clearly a deal to support American farmers and shippers and, perhaps only by chnace, starving Africans.

The "green revolution" started in Mexico and moved to Asia and then stumbled a bit in Africa. In Africa, the absence of the social and physical infrastructure needed to promote wealth-creating, modern, efficient agriculture had a hard time materializing. And foreign aid requirements that thwarted development, by insisting on premature free-market practices in a fledgling agricultural industry, only continued the problems while exposing foreign aid for what it is: government farm support for American farmers but not African farmers. Tens of millions, if not billions in aid was siphoned off by greedy African leaders and paid to shippers for carrying grain to Africa, grain that could have been purchased for much less locally and supported local farmers. It makes American accusations of "dumping" hypocritical at best, and life-thretening at worst.

Many of these case studies and stories have been published previously in the Wall Street Journal, so they will be familiar to readers of the Journal. And the authors conclude with some useful recommendations. It may seem surprising that such a compassionate treatment should come from bastion of capitalism yet, as more and more authors reveal each year, the solution to starvation in Africa is not more, free, American grain. The solution needs to be local and sustainable. "Enough" offers a bright light on the subject.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Thought-Provoking Book, April 2, 2010
There is a great deal of interesting (not to mention heart-wrenching) information in this book, but the gist of the argument is this:

Food policy for the last 30 years has more or less ignored agricultural development and food self-sufficiency. Instead policy has focused on moving poor countries directly to industrialization. With industries, the reasoning goes, poor countries can export goods and use their export earnings to buy food from rich countries, including the United States. We produce food cheaply, they produce goods cheaply. We get cheap stuff, they get cheap food.

The authors point out a number of problems with this approach. First, it tends to fail just when poor countries need it most. A few years ago, there was a dramatic escalation in the price of rice. Immediately, famine threatened poor countries around the world. Second, as programs helping poor farmers are cut back or eliminated, they often have little choice but to abandon their farms and become urban slum dwellers - or to emigrate legally or illegally. It's this dynamic that has driven much of the post-NAFTA immigration from Mexico to the United States.

The authors argue that we need to re-orient global food policy to help poor farmers and encourage food self-sufficiency in poor nations. They admit that the task won't be easy, and that other factors (war, corruption, and disease) also help create hunger. They also point out that our current policies are very convenient for powerful economic interests - not least large-scale farmers, global grain trading companies, and manufacturers seeking cheap labor.

The authors have been covering this beat for the Wall Street Journal for many years and are clearly both passionate and very well-informed. They are also excellent writers - if some of the subject matter weren't so grim, I'd almost be tempted to describe it as a "fun read." Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, shocking report on how rich nations' policies harm African farmers, September 29, 2011
This review is from: Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty (Paperback)
Farm subsidies started out as a good way to protect hardworking US and European farmers against the vagaries of the marketplace and the weather. But they've morphed into a major reason why the developing world suffers regular, devastating famines. The effects of subsidies on commodity prices often mean that poor farmers, particularly those in Africa, cannot make any money selling their harvests, so they cannot buy the seeds and fertilizers they need to grow future crops. Without incomes, they and their families starve. In this revealing, shocking book, Wall Street Journal reporters Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman examine how - as they contend - practices by rich nations keep developing nations poor and hungry. getAbstract recommends this book to those who want to know why, in the 21st century, people still starve to death, and what's to be done about it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavily Lacking the Main Point, November 29, 2012
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In the book, Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty, Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman attempt to give a historic narrative and well-researched opinion on why there are still people starving while we have the technology to feed everyone. Roger Thurow has worked for the Wall Street Journal as a foreign correspondent for twenty years. Scott Kilman also worked for the Wall Street Journal for twenty years covering agriculture. While their pieces on three 2003 famines became finalists for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting, Enough should be read from a journalistic standpoint.
The book begins by discussing the ways which Norman Borlaug saved Mexico from starvation by developing hybrid wheat that could be planted almost anywhere. This wheat also paid off during India's food crisis, as they also used Borlaug's wheat to vastly increase their food production. In times of need, his wheat spread to Turkey, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, Iraq, China, and other countries in Asia (14). While Borlaug accepted his Nobel Peace Prize and the Green Revolution kicked off, Russia cleverly purchased 1/3 of the entire US wheat surplus. This caused the price of wheat in the United States to triple and cascade price hikes through corn, soybeans, and livestock. On the up side, the once again rationing American consumer was more prone to donate what money they had to starving people overseas. Once the surplus came back, however, people suddenly forgot about the poor and were less prone to donate. Amartya Sen described this problem as "Malthusian optimism" (23).
I found the beginning of the book to be quite fascinating. Up until this point, I had not known that Norman Borlaug existed, let alone he was the main contributor to saving almost half the world from starvation. The connection between Americans donating to the poor when they themselves are going through difficult times, but not donating much when they are secure, was also interesting. I would have thought it would be the opposite.
Enough then dives into what at first appears to be their main point: bad policies and the occasional well-intended strategy conspire to keep the world's poor hungry. They begin the issue by discussing the Great Irish Famine, which dealt with "potato blight and British indifference and scorn (129)". They bring to light that the wealthy landowners turned away the work-seeking Irish while the British government turned their backs. When the deaths were tallied up, 2 million Irishmen are said to have died (130). However, the story takes a sudden turn and dives into fifty-pages of world celebrities and billionaires (like Bill Gates, U2, and David Beckham) who begin campaigns to end world's hunger by getting governments to cancel the debt of African nations. The section ends with images of Bono playing his guitar and Africans working their crops.
While I certainly appreciate the efforts of Bono and the Gates Foundation, I felt that this section was a step in the opposite direction of the author's intended main point. Instead of putting emphasis on why the poor in Africa were starving, they were highlighting the efforts that were happening to keep them from starving. The next large section had to do with the billionaire Buffet family and their honorable attempts at ending starvation in Africa, as well as tangents about their sick mother and childhood. I felt that this section should either have been placed at the end of the book in its own feel-good section, or eliminated entirely. It detracts from the author's main point, and throws the reader off. I know people in Africa are starving, but I want to know why rather than what people are doing to stop it.
Just when I thought all hope was lost, the last 40 pages of Enough had some of the content I was looking for. With the global meltdown of 2008, people were starting to ask why countries had the capital to bail themselves out of debt, but not the capital to help starving countries? The authors report that before 2008, the leading countries - United States, United Kingdom, Canda, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia - had fallen back on their promise of $25 billion of aid by 2010. In fact in 2008, only $3 billion had been delivered (265). The Gates Foundation estimated that $9 billion annually would be necessary to start an African agricultural revolution - which is apparently less than it cost for the United States government to bail out Citigroup, Inc (266). By 2008, the number of undernourished people in the world had swelled to nearly 1 billion, the largest number since the early 1970s, when the full impact of the Green Revolution was just kicking in (287).
I find it somewhat appalling that the most powerful nations in the world had pledged to donate $25 billion in aid to Africa, and didn't even reach near that goal by 2008. Even more appalling is how much money the government spent to allow our nation's wealthy fat cat CEOs in places like Citigroup to have a second chance while people are dying by the millions in other countries. While I was somewhat confused on how they came about their notion of "undernourishment" while reading the chapter, the notes section clarified it for me. In the notes at the end of the book, Thurow and Kilman state that it is difficult for experts to agree on how to define undernourishment. They took the measure by counting people who consumed less than 2,100 calories per day. They agree that this calculation does vary by age and how much physical labor they must do in a day. Their data came from the FAO, which we are very familiar with from reading in class. I feel that their calculation is probably the best for the general reader, and is a fair assessment.
Overall, I found Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty to be lacking its main point. While the stories and data throughout the book were interesting, they neglected to focus on the topic. I have a newfound appreciation for Norman Borlaug, but I think the efforts of Bill Gates, Bono, and the Buffetts could have been left out or moved to the end, as it seriously detracted from the point. The last section got me fired up and wanting to rally on the steps of Congress due to the bailouts, but even that somewhat data-rich chapter did not answer the question myself, and everybody else who read this book, wanted to know: why do the world's poorest starve in an age of plenty?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can There Be Enough?, July 1, 2011
By 
Spudman (Pasadena, MD United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty (Paperback)
The Gates Foundation estimated that a sum of 20 billion dollars would be necessary to finance a food program in Africa to feed the hungry and help citizens and individual countries save themselves. So much more than that lofty sum has been spent on corporate bailouts , weight loss programs, and long, costly wars intended to save lives.

This book is not so much about WHY so many people in the world are starving at it is a documentation of the painful circumstances found around the world, how relief might be brought to these suffering regions (especially in Africa, and the programs and people who are trying to alleviate hunger in various ways.

Enough is a depressing book at times, yet the stories of those generous people and countries trying to make a difference give hope to the possibility of a different world in the future. One of the bleakest examples in the book is that of Zimbabwe driven to the brink of collapse by the governement of Robert Mugabe. A country once the breadbasket of southern Africa now is a net importer of food because of Mugabe's failed agricultural policies.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A passionately worded argument against systemic injustices, September 16, 2010
By 
John Gibbs (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty (Paperback)
The fight against hunger is not hopeless; it is a battle that can be won, but it requires informed people to advocate for policy reform and new practices that work for the world's poorest, according to Wall Street Journal reporters Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman in this book. The book is a passionately worded argument against the systemic injustices that continue to cause preventable hunger.

The book starts with the story of Norman Borlaug, a scientist sent to Mexico in the 1940s to try to solve the crop losses caused by wheat rust. What he actually discovered was ways of rapidly breeding new highly-productive varieties of crops so that the same amount of land could produce much higher yields. Borlaug's techniques helped to feed the hungry in many countries and he was awarded the Nobel Prize. However, the book describes many different reasons why the green revolution has not yet brought food security to all.

In Ethiopia, the introduction of higher-yielding crops has actually contributed to food shortages. Abundant crops one year drove prices down below cost, so the next year less crops were planted and when a drought came there was insufficient food. Foreign aid has contributed to food shortages, with local farmers reluctant to plant crops they could not sell because of "free" food provided by aid agencies. The book tells many stories, each of which will make the reader angry but better informed.

Some of the ideas presented in the book seem inconsistent. For example, American farmers who provide food aid seem to be both heroes and villains at the same time. Not every reader will agree with all of the ideas advanced. Nonetheless, the book is highly engaging and no-one could disagree with the overall theme that the world needs to be doing a better job of ensuring food security for all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately frustrating . . ., July 22, 2012
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This review is from: Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty (Paperback)
In this challenging book, these two veteran Wall Street Journal reporters ask, as the subtitle states, why the world's poorest starve in an age of plenty. If you have studied the topic of poverty and food production, some of the content here may not be completely new to you, but much of their argument goes beyond what you may typically have heard. Thurow and Kilman's WSJ reporting on famines in 2003 won them some recognition, even a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize.

Here's what I love most about this book: it pays tribute to Norman Borlaug, who passed away last year. You don't know who that is? Only a Nobel Peace Prize winner, one of my heroes, who is personally, almost single-handedly responsible for saving the lives of literally millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of people around the world. He fathered the Green Revolution, back when "green" didn't indicate anti-market, eco-feel-goodism. He developed various strains of wheat that increased yield and resisted disease. I read an interview with him in Reason Magazine a few years ago and became enthralled with his story.

Thurow and Kilman continue the Borlaug story. After winning the Nobel Prize in 1970, he went out of fashion until a Japanese business man and philanthropist drafted him to bring the Green Revolution to Africa. In spite of some early successes, it did not take hold as well as it had in India.

The reasons for the persistence of poverty are varied. The culprit I often hear is corrupt governments. Surely one does not have to look hard to find governments who use foreign aid to buy chalets in Europe, or who give out food aid based on tribal divisions, and who steal from and oppress their people. But the problem of hunger is much greater than that.

Part of the reason agricultural development was stymied in Africa, despite Borlaug's efforts, is a complete lack of infrastructure. When farmers had a bumper crop, the transportation, market structure, and commodities exchanges were not there to help them reap rewards, so they had no incentives to produce, to invest in equipment, fertilizer, or seeds.

The worst part of this story, I think, is the way U.S. agricultural aid disincentivises farmers. Farmers in Africa work hard to produce a crop, and if they can get it to market at all, they are greeted by truckloads of American-grown grain, which is virtually free for the asking. How will they make money off of their efforts? But the United States, by law, cannot send money to these struggling nations for infrastructure, equipment, or other investment in their agricultural development. Why? Because the U.S. government wants to support its own farmers, buying their produce! Now, I'm all for the success of American farmers, but so much of our farming industry is subsidized by the government for the supposedly noble cause of feeding the hungry around the world while making the problem worse that it makes me angry! Well-meaning Christians and government officials may think they're helping the hungry, but by perpetuating the policy of subsidizing American farmers to produce crops to send overseas to hungry nations they are perpetuating the very problem they think they're solving.

Enough does tell some encouraging stories. My favorite is about Dr. Joe Mamlin who, when treating AIDS patients in Kenya, realized that his efforts were futile if the patient has nothing to eat. He began handing out food along with the medicine he dispensed, and eventually started a network of clinics with their own gardens in which they grow crops and raise chickens. This dual emphasis of improved nutrition and medication has vastly improved the effectiveness of the clinics' work. (Another side note pet peeve: I am glad Western Christians are increasingly taking action and showing compassion, helping people with AIDS. I know many of the victims are truly victims, wives and children of wayward husbands who visit prostitutes while traveling or working away from home. But why do these activists never, ever mention the fact that the epidemic can easily be contained if they only have sex with their wives?)

Thurow and Kilman end with some practical steps we, as individuals and as a nation, can take to move toward alleviating poverty. In spite of their examples of heroic individuals and their actions, I mostly finished this book feeling frustrated and helpless in light of the vast power that our government, agricultural lobbies, and cultural forces, both here and abroad, have to maintain systems that perpetuate poverty. I do hope that Thurow and Kilman's voices will be heard by people who can make a difference. Too many people are starving among plenty. Borlaug's intellectual heirs, Dr. Mamlin, and others who share Thurow and Kilman's views can make those numbers shrink, the sooner the better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, March 10, 2011
By 
Brien (EAST MEADOW, NY, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty (Paperback)
I believe that this is one of the most important books written in the last decade. It should be on the must-read list of every business leader, politician, economist, journalist, philanthropist, and anyone else who values staying informed about key issues affecting our world.

As a comprehensive analysis of hunger in Africa and the failure of the world to make good on it's promise to eradicate this suffering, one would expect this to be a slow, difficult read. But this book actually reads very easily. Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman's writing is concise yet detailed. They make complex topics in public policy, economics, agriculture, and politics easily understood by the average person.

I challenge you to read even just the introduction and try to put the book down. After just a few pages, you'll be hooked...and motivated to start making a positive difference in the world.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vivid and damning portrayal of our attitudes to food security, March 18, 2010
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If I had my way, a well-thumbed copy of this book would rest on the desk of every US Senator and member of Congress, and they'd be thinking about the issues the authors raise while crafting their policies.

America loves to talk about free markets (it's one of the features of the current health care debate, for instance) -- except when it's not in the national interest, as in agriculture. So we subsidize our farmers, enabling them to produce so much grain that we then have a vested interest in dumping as 'free' food aid it in Africa to meet any short-term supply shortfalls, when a more appropriate response would be to support grassroots efforts to develop new farming techniques, seeds and agricultural markets that would enable Africa to become self-sustaining on a regional if not always a local basis. "It's not in the interest of others to help us become self-sufficient," pronounces one Ethiopian in this book -- a claim that Thurow and Kilman prove beyond any reasonable doubt, then hold up to scorn and mockery.

Some of the contents of this powerful and damning book are tough to read -- there are the depictions of famine on the one hand, and the details of how agricultural markets and seed development function, which can become dauntingly complex, on the other. But the authors mix up the technical details with more than enough encounters with real-life players, from farmers in the developed world as well as Africa, to aid officials, scientists and others trying to change the system. We meet a woman who launches a commodities exchange in Ethiopia, and a new breed of seed salesman who works miles away from the nearest town and thus makes it possible for farmers to buy the latest seeds, tools and fertilizers and improve their yields with his advice and guidance. They point us to the most damning examples of foreign interference or indifference, such as the US political support for Egypt that has made it hard for drought-stricken regions of Ethiopia to dam parts of the Blue Nile to irrigate their fields -- all the water must flow north to the Delta, so that an Egyptian farmer's calves can take showers. They draw the link between hunger and other problems -- lack of education, HIV/AIDS -- and point out how solving hunger often is needed before philanthropists tackle other laudable projects.

This is simply one of the most powerful and chilling books about global issues I've read in a while. The authors follow where the facts lead them, not any ideological agenda, and report what their research and reporting shows them. The story-telling is powerful and the logic impeccable. The consequences of the distorted system that is still functioning today are downright chilling, not just on a humanitarian but a geopolitical basis.

A must-read book -- six stars...
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Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty
Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty by Roger Thurow (Paperback - June 22, 2010)
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