126 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Clinton at his best
Even conservatives will like this book. It's interesting, inspiring, clearly written, not at all political and, believe it or not, only a tad self-centered. Filled with dozens, maybe hundreds, of specific examples of charitable individuals and successful grassroots programs, it argues -- in fact, proves -- that you don't have to be a big shot to make the world a better...
Published on September 4, 2007 by Julie Neal
70 of 84 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars laundry list, boring to read
I agree with most all the 1 star reviews here. I'm very liberal and still felt that the book was a long list of statistics and descriptions of big money charitable efforts as well as efforts by those without big money. The reading just gets very tedious about a third of the way through. I also agree with other reviewers that I get a feeling a staff of researchers and...
Published on December 9, 2007 by Jai Ho
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126 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Clinton at his best,
Even conservatives will like this book. It's interesting, inspiring, clearly written, not at all political and, believe it or not, only a tad self-centered. Filled with dozens, maybe hundreds, of specific examples of charitable individuals and successful grassroots programs, it argues -- in fact, proves -- that you don't have to be a big shot to make the world a better place. Clinton clearly believes in what he writes; the book is passionate and powerful on topics that, in other hands, would be detached and dull.
Besides the subject matter, what I liked best about the book is its organization. Written so you don't have to read it all at once, it breaks down philanthropy into six different categories, and gives each its own chapter. Those are:
* Giving time
* Giving things
* Giving skills
* Giving "gifts of reconciliation and new beginnings" (citing everything from the efforts of Nelson Mandela to PeacePlayers International, a group that sets up basketball leagues in the Middle East)
* Giving gifts that keep on giving (such as the work of Heifer International, which gives millions of poor farmers free cows -- as long as they agree to donate one its first offspring to someone else)
* Giving to good ideas
Clinton also includes descriptions of some successful charitable programs that are easy to use as model strategies for your own ideas, illustrates how businesses can make money out of acting in the public interest, and explains his views on what roles governments (not just Washington, but cities and states) can play.
In the last chapter, titled "How Much Should You Give and Why," he argues that if the rich would donate five percent of their incomes to humanitarian causes, the rest of society would give even more, and that one reason to be generous and public spirited is simply that it makes you feel good. "Who's happier?" he writes. "The uniters or the dividers? The builders or the breakers? The givers or the takers? I think you know the answer."
Regardless of your political views, if you're a charitable person and seriously want to make a difference in the world, this is a must-read. You'll come away from it not only inspired, but with plenty of ideas on how to accomplish your goals.
59 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Giving as part of a daily life,
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Over sixty years ago, Harry Truman resurrected the failed presidency of Herbert Hoover in order to have Hoover help out in the distribution of aid to Europe after the end of the the Second World War. In like manner, many former presidents since then have made global contributions, most notably Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. Not to be overlooked is Bill Clinton, who has offered a candid and reasonable look at people who have made a difference on a large scale. "Giving" is a good book, but not a great read. Information abounds, but the narrative is flat. If only he had written this book the way he speaks on the campaign trail, this book would have taken off, for sure.
I applaud Mr. Clinton for bringing to our attention vast areas of need around the world. His teaming up with former President Bush is the height of bipartisan co-operation, something sorely lacking these days. I mean, how good does it get, for instance, when two former presidents work together to try to solve the problems in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? Yet, although there is much litany and less practical involvement to get absorbed in "Giving", I do give President Clinton high marks for laying out many cases which need our focus. "Giving" is a short but important book and one that I hope everyone who reads it takes seriously.
70 of 84 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars laundry list, boring to read,
I agree with most all the 1 star reviews here. I'm very liberal and still felt that the book was a long list of statistics and descriptions of big money charitable efforts as well as efforts by those without big money. The reading just gets very tedious about a third of the way through. I also agree with other reviewers that I get a feeling a staff of researchers and editors put this book together rather than Bill.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A call to action,
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"Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World" is an inspirational book that details the power each and every person has to make a difference. Bill Clinton focuses on two things in this book (which, by the way, is much, MUCH shorter than his autobiography, "My Life"). First, the former president provides countless examples of people and organizations that have taken on projects that have had a positive impact on the world. Second, the book demonstrates the many different ways people can give back, either by volunteering, organizing, or making monetary donations.
I was extremely impressed by the scope of this book. I thought the whole focus of "Giving" would be on the work the Clinton Foundation has done over the past six years. Although Clinton does use some of his personal experiences as examples, most of the stories in this book are about outside individuals and other non-governmental organizations that are doing amazing things. Clinton praises a wide variety of people for their good works, ranging from Bill and Melinda Gates to a young girl who organized regular garbage pick-ups at a local beach. I recognized a lot of the names and organizations mentioned in this book, but many of them were unfamiliar to me, and it was great to learn about the different things people are doing.
So many people (myself included) tend to focus on the negative aspects of the world we live in. We complain about the government, the economy, taxes, etc., but the reality is that there is a lot of good in the world that goes unnoticed. Reading this book was very inspirational because it illustrated how many people care enough to try to make the world a better place. I know that sounds kind of hokey, but it's the truth...and people really do make an enormous difference!
Everyone has the ability to give something, regardless of age, availability, or income. After reading this book, I'm reassessing the amount that I give back and thinking about ways that I can do more. I hope other people will do the same thing.
77 of 95 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Chicken Soup for an ex-president's soul?,
Does anyone really need an entire book just to tell them that the world would be a better place if we all helped each other out?
I was looking for some world-changing ideas here, but this book reads like a long ghost-written feel-good press release and while the "giving" sentiment is a good one, I think the Bible already covered "do unto others" quite nicely.
I suppose an author can't very well go on a worldwide book tour without having a book first, so this one was obviously quickly produced as an excuse to hit the talk show circuit.
But most people will be able to grasp the book's entire message just from hearing interviews about the book and seeing the title. Actually reading the book is unnecessary.
28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For everyone who is or should be making a difference in the world,
Everybody has something to give, everybody knows that. Everybody has something to give which can change the world, Bill Clinton knows that. In this book, he tells you how via means each of us has, even if we don't think we have those means through our own misconceptions and misperceptions of what we can contribute to the world, including the pretentious notion that changing the world happens all at once on some grand scale rather than one contribution for one cause and/or one person at a time. This is a book for everyone, whether you are already giving and making a difference in the world on any scale so you can do more, or whether you need to be convinced to join the giving movement gaining momentum recently but still falling short of what is really needed in the world to make it a better and more socially just place for all to live.
Bill organizes ways he proposes we consider giving by means of money, time, things, skills, recognition & new beginnings, self-sustenance, examples, ideas, organization and more. Anecdotal stories proliferate the book, not as merely stories for inspiration but also serving as successful real life examples of the diversity of each theme on giving. The interesting thing I found about most of them was that many started out very small and humble, truly like things we could each do, and either grew into something large by continuous effort or equivalent efforts by others each chipping in the same small contribution. In fact, I would think most readers reading these small contribution stories would say to themselves, "I could do more than that" and follow up on it.
There were also many conversational clippings Bill had with some more prominent givers, whether by amount or efforts Herculean relative to their lives. What was inspiring about these were their philosophies about giving and how simple and practical they could be to anybody, but yet, probably few think about it in those ways which was among the reasons Bill wrote the book. It really opens up the possibilities for all of us wanting to give in ways that can change the world.
Overall, for the value of what this book can inspire everybody to do, no exceptions, I would not only highly recommend this book, but also give it that prestigious but generalist distinction of the one book from this year I would choose to give every person in the world if I could.
46 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everyone makes a difference,
In his latest book, Bill Clinton continues personally demonstrating how everybody helps each other. It can certainly help speed things up, but we do not need multimillion dollar staffs or well-heeled community organizations behind us.
As somebody who herself has worked--and continues working in the public sector--I appreciate the sincerity of this book's thesis. From his boyhood to the present, Clinton himself demonstrates an unquenchable thirst for community activism. Whether as a private citizen or elected official, he has proven we are capable of making a difference every day.
Humorous little anecdotes are included throughout this book. It demonstrates that activism need never be boring or solely the province of well-heeled. Compassion is merely how we think of and treat others. The world is in desperate need of repair if such a principle is a forgotten value!
Yes, the charitable works of famous people are included. But so are the lesser-known actions of every-day folks. Maya Amoil `s story (p. 134-136) serves as a great antidote to all of the still-ongoing media stories about `selfish kids' including from some other activists--who should know much better! I wish I had known people like those when I was in high school. I would not have felt so isolated while performing my own activities.
Since this book's official website has a space for us to contribute our personal stories of community participation, I'm inclined to believe there will be another volume with further emphasis on works of the non-famous. Giving back to others is public service for civic-minded Americans. Helping others should never be viewed as punishment or a task to `get out of the way'. This is Bill at his best.
Another neat feature of the book is that gender and racial issues are thoroughly woven throughout the text. They are not compartmentalized into distinct sections. In so many other people's books, I came away feeling that such traditional word arrangements do more to distinguish what does not comprise `real' activism as opposed to effectively integrating everybody's projects together.
Contrasting, Bill's vision of community activism thoroughly includes and benefits ALL people. Women's issues are not something just for me and other women to be concerned with...etc. Clinton is well versed in and genuinely concerned about equity.
But I do have one issue with this book. It assumes everybody performing public service actually likes the public. I unfortunately and personally learned from my own experience this is not always the case.
In 2006, I applied for VISTAAmeriCorps. This is one of the many programs which Bill explicitly discusses, only fair considering he signed AmeriCorps into law.
Well, unbeknownst to me, both my site supervisor and her boss turned out to be power-hungry and emotionally abusive. Nothing I did seemed to please them, instead prompting a string of very personal insults. Both of them actually knew much less about the federal disability laws and policies we were allegedly working with than I already did. But since they were the bosses, they attacked anybody working beneath them--even if using the new information would benefit the agency and other people with disabilities.
Because the ensuing hostile workplace environment made it impossible for me to effectively complete my assignments, I was actually required to leave the very same public service program which I had worked so hard to get into. VISTAAmericorps made their best efforts to reassign me to another site. But if the aforementioned legally-illiterate non-profit site I had been at could ultimately and actually comment on THEIR perceptions of my workplace behavior, what chance would I actually have had for receiving a reassignment?
Subsequently serving my community and country through other venues--I am much more conscious of the difference between public persona and private motives. Deceptive public servants are not helping their communities. They actually may be hindering the organization's abilities to provide change.
A revised version of this book should carefully consider people's motives for non-profit sector work, warning there are bad apples everywhere.
26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It Does Take a Village...Starting with One Person,
The life of an ex-U.S. President must be supremely challenging to the ego given one has to pass the torch of leader of the free world to someone else as a necessary consequence of our democratic process. The limelight eventually subsides, but a certain level of media scrutiny remains constant. With that, all the former chief executives have responded to government unemployment with varying responses. Richard Nixon spent a lot of time trying to rehabilitate his post-Watergate image. Gerald Ford counseled successor Jimmy Carter frequently. Carter himself looks to be building a post-Presidential legacy as a humanitarian arguably more enduring than his one-term administration. This has also been Bill Clinton's cue to his legacy and one that has inspired him to write this eminently readable book.
Besides being the husband of the current frontrunner for the 2008 Democratic nomination, Clinton has maintained a high profile since leaving office in 2000, by staying focused on his charitable causes. Beginning in 2005, his Clinton Global Initiative - a conference that draws the best minds from around the world - has raised more than $10 billion for globe-spanning issues such as HIV/AIDS treatment (especially in Africa), climate change and how to combat poverty. He partnered with his former adversary George H.W. Bush on leading rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Katrina and the Indian Ocean earthquake. His unavoidable charisma and media savvy have a lot to do with his success in this area, but with this book, he conveys how anyone is capable of giving back on his or her own terms.
For example, he discusses Dr. Paul Farmer, who made the breakthrough discovery of technology-driven anti-retroviral medicines can be used to treat the HIV-infected in impoverished settings. Beginning with several patients in Haiti, he proved that the poor, when motivated by sustaining health, would adhere to even complicated drug regimens and in turn, their infection would respond favorably to the treatment. From there, government-backed institutions dedicated to this field like the Global Fund brought forth Farmer's work on a worldwide scale. Clinton's concept of giving is not so exclusive as to denigrate efforts on a deliberately smaller scale. In fact, he celebrates successful charitable programs that can be viewed as model strategies for others. A heartwarming example he provides is a Maryland hairdresser named Diane Stevens, who raised money to send a motley crew of similar hairstylists to Sierra Leone with the purpose of teaching women there to become beauty specialists.
Clinton smartly organizes the book into six ways that he sees philanthropy can be realized - giving time, giving things, giving skills, giving good ideas, giving gifts that keep on giving, and most interestingly, giving gifts of reconciliation and new beginnings. Diane Stevens' case illustrates this last category, a passing of knowledge and skills also illustrated by PeacePlayers International, a group that sets up basketball leagues in the Middle East. It is truly powerful to see the Internet as the key tool to encourage the globalization of compassion. Several of Clinton's examples highlight the use of Web sites to allow Americans to help non-Americans. On the downside, the years of government inaction have taken their toll on such humanitarian efforts. Clinton treads this lapse lightly given that he has to take some accountability for the current malaise in the public sector as does every U.S. President since Nixon. Regardless, the book serves its purpose to inspire those who may feel powerless to help change the world otherwise.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT RESOURCE WITH WHICH TO BEGIN,
Sometimes the reality of the world's needs feels overwhelming. For this reason, it's possible to go through life feeling some level of alienation that peoples' needs are so immense and daunting and it's difficult to know just where to begin. Mr. Clinton has put together a great resource which captures how--with the aid of the internet--people of modest means can participate in a pooling of resources which can make a real difference. This book inspired me to make a micro-loan through kiva.org, a program which provides funding to entrepreneurs in developing countries.
The book comes at an interesting time in our history. It's seems the political zeitgeist of unleashing free market forces and standing back has run its course. There is a push back against the excesses of rapid globalization because people are aware that there are still too many left behind and giving has to be a part of what it will take to close the gap. With wealth comes a great opportunity to be responsibly helpful. If you're looking for a way to make a significant difference, I think you'll find this book a great source of ideas and directions in which to head.
As is so often the case with the speeches and writings of our distinguished former President, sometimes there's a tremendous amount of data to sort through. (He is, after all, the original policy wonk.) And, yet, he includes some dramatic and very moving stories which animate his excellent points.
46 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reaching Out To People In Need,
After reviewing his latest book, "Giving," I believe that Bill Clinton's main purpose of his book is to "reach out" to people in need.
He wrote this book to us for three reasons and three reasons only: 1) To give generously - give the best of what we have, 2) To give humbly - ask for nothing in return and allow God to take the spotlight, and 3) To give radically - be counter-cultural. Give beyond what's comfortable from us.
In MY opinion, I believe the main theme of his book is that "Money does NOT belong to us, but it belongs to God." Now of course this is NOT a religous or spiritual book, but this book sets the idea that we all live a privileged lifestyle...that we have unique opportunity to give generously out of what we have been given. Clinton feels that we are suppose to live a life of sacrifice - that we are called to love our enemies, to care for those in need, to prefer others and embrace selflessness at all costs. I believe the main vision for his book is to encourage Americans to give ourselves away in ways that will challenge and change not just how we should change the world as Americans, but how we think globally and culturally in relations to giving as well.
Now of course, I am not going to summarize what he says in the book (that's for you to figure out), but I will definitely RECOMMEND this book to anyone who are interested in making a difference in our society today.
Overall, an excellent book for us to to be world changers in America!! A+
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Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World by Bill Clinton (Hardcover - September 4, 2007)
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