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A New Species of Trouble: The Human Experience of Modern Disasters Paperback – July 17, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0393313192 ISBN-10: 0393313190

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A New Species of Trouble: The Human Experience of Modern Disasters + Everything in Its Path: Destruction of Community in the Buffalo Creek Flood + Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (Illinois)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (July 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393313190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393313192
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #946,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Erikson examines how various communities and victims have dealt with man-made disasters, concluding that these experiences can help keep people's faith in the government and social systems.

Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

“Incredibly powerful. . . . A little gem of a book, absolutely gripping in its narratives.” (Jonathan Kozol)

“The very best kind of social writing—a strong, morally awake, clear-headed effort to understand what has happened, again and again, in our twentieth-century American life—a narration of tragedies of our own making.” (Robert Coles)

“Vividly illustrates how administrative power and market forces, when they come loose from any communicative relation with the people they affect, can have devastating consequences, destroying the trust without which people cannot live resilient lives.
” (Robert N. Bellah, Yale University)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Aaron on February 28, 2007
From the offset, A New Species of Trouble is an atypical approach for an academic work. Rather than an explicit thesis and clear connections that lead the reader from one set of evidence to the next, Erikson presents a series of fairly disparate case studies, leaving it to the reader to draw the connections. This is a reasonable burden, because Erikson is a vivid writer, pointing out the most pertinent aspects.

Beyond this offbeat approach, Erikson takes issue with several of the key assumptions in disaster studies. First among these is the definition of disaster: rather than the sudden, temporary events that characterize disaster literature, Erikson examines gnawing, progressing hazards. These are disasters of a sort; Erikson presents them causing similar trauma to victims and similar disruption of society, without attracting the attention of a hurricane or explosion. Some of these are more convincing than others: contamination by leaking toxins or mercury in water supplies are clearly disastrous in scope and gravity, as is the forced relocation of Ojibwe indians, resulting in the collapse of societal norms. Even the betrayal of trust, as seen in the Immokalee embezzlement case or in Three Mile Island can be seen having disaster consequences. But is the incidence of homelessness structural in our economic system disastrous?

Erikson's case studies provoke many other, less central presumptions in the study of disaster. What is trauma? What is toxicity, and does it have a social component? What are the values of social relationships? Each of these is addressed more implicitly than explicitly, but provoke innovative thinking. His conclusions are anything but conclusive, but Erikson is asking good questions.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kevin on December 14, 2004
In A New Species of Trouble, Kai Erikson presents several short stories about environmental and social concerns that have arisen from anthropocentric causes. For instance, The Haitians of Immokalee details the effects on immigrants and families of an incident in Immokalee, Florida in which three hundred and four people lost the majority of their savings at a local depository. Residents had trusted the depository to keep their funds safe, and were emotionally distraught after not being able to collect the funds that they had worked long and difficult hours to earn. Immigrants could not provide for themselves or their families, especially family members abroad that they had been sending money to. Sick loved ones at home could not get the financial help they needed to be treated, and children did not receive the necessary funding to attend school, which provided a viable means to advance in the world. Depression and lack of direction afflicting many of the victims, and many lost their sense of trust.

Moreover, Being Homeless discusses homelessness in America, and the constant shift many in America make in and out of homeless conditions depending on a myriad factors such as a lack of an accepting family, to not possessing adequate resources to combat illness, bankruptcy, bills, and other pressures. The story also details the effect homelessness can have on people, contributing to a feeling of disconnectedness from society, and attracting disdainful attitudes and perceptions from the public.

However, Erikson then attributes homelessness to the allocation of resources, proclaiming, "The resources of this land are so apportioned that hundreds of thousands of persons are without housing any given day...
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 30, 2002
This book is really awesome. An easy read and very informing
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jacobwitz on August 28, 2010
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Fast delivery-book came in excellent condition. I would deal with this seller again without any second thoughts.
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