From Publishers Weekly
This determinedly optimistic manifesto-cum-workbook by the author of Diet for a Small Planet begins with the question, Why are we as societies creating a world that we as individuals abhor? Lappé posits that U.S. culture is grounded in a worldview of scarcity, creating a society of competitive materialists who practice a Thin Democracy of electoral politics in a one rule market economy that returns wealth to wealth and leads to an ever-increasing concentration of power. Yet she believes there is no reason we can't create a values-guided, empowering democracy based on the premise of plenty, where individuals and communities take charge of public life and engage in active listening, conflict mediation, dialogue and judgment. Full of charts comparing Thin Democracy constructs with Living Democracy alternatives, and ending with a study guide for community Group Talk, the book includes numerous examples of people practicing Living Democracy, from Nobel Prize–winner Muhammad Yunus, instigator of the international microcredit movement, to School Mediation Associates, which teaches conflict resolution and peer mediations skills. Unfortunately, Lappé's coverage of many of these inspiring stories is unintelligibly thin, too often referring readers to her Web site for backup. (Oct. 31)
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The indefatigable Lappe turns her finely tuned sense of outrage and her deeply honed sense of conviction to the unending and seemingly unmanageable problems confronting the world and focuses her clarion vision on solutions that may begin with just one person but that can end with an entire culture becoming more informed, more caring, more responsible. If we, as individuals, do not willingly choose to live defeated by poverty, debilitated by disease, demoralized by racism, she posits, then why should these abhorrent conditions not only exist but proliferate, especially in a democratic society? Displaying her usual laserlike logic, Lappe distills her arguments to their most basic level, a tactic that allows her crystalline assessments to virtually leap off the page. Parsing the notion of democracy, Lappe examines its successes and failures, offering creative and innovative methods for turning egregious areas of weakness into exhilarating beacons of strength. Progressing from confronting fear to seizing power, Lappe's treatise on humanity's potential for growth is a comforting source of inspiration. Haggas, Carol
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