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on December 29, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Everyone should read this book. In fact I am just now kicking myself because I didn't think to use it in the anthro class I taught.
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on October 31, 2014
Format: Paperback
Short but well done.
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on July 19, 2014
Format: Paperback
Great read. The only Journalist I can tolerate in book form.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The writer have one veiw and quoted to man other author. He described a phenomena that is normal across many cultures.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Too ambitious a topic for the great Kapuscinski to handle. The content is repetitive and lacks depth. None the less, the topic of the book itself is a provocation to treat "The Other" with respect, curiosity and openness. And that's not a bad thing at all.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
There are two ways to meet the "other" - people unlike ourselves and coming from a culture which is not our own.

The first is to go out and look for oneself - and "pay attention" to others. In Simone Weil's words: "civilization is all about paying attention". This is the long way civilization took. It was a long empirical road, with many setbacks, and successes.

The other is to sit in an overstuffed armchair and speculate about the "Other", and then speak about it from the lectern. Such ruminations usually begin with an imagined state about what it was to live as "hunters/gatherers" in small bands and describe what such people might have done or thought (pg. 80 in this book) when they first met the "Other". Philosophers, from LEVINAS to TISCHNER, or BUBER are trotted out to provide much needed authority. Such ruminations usually last no longer that then first shred of evidence from the field of "how it really was" - and how limited out speculative capacities are.

KAPUSCINSKI was a master of the first mode. He went out, tried to see "others", and reported. All of his books are worth reading time and again. Some of his insights I quote with great pleasure. Admittedly, sometimes the story had the better of truth but - se non è vero è ben trovato.

It is surprising that KAPUSCINSKI tried his hand at talking about the "Other" as well. His words are collected in this booklet - an easy, albeit forgettable read. It contains mostly platitudes, or wishful thinking like "taking responsibility for the "Other". The rumination ends where reality begins.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for another book of Kapuscinski's global travel writings with those perceptive observations on all that he saw especially in rapidly developing or changing countries, then I fear this slim item is probably not for you.

Sadly it seems with his recent death (2007) and a seeming lack of unprinted travel writings, this book may evidence a danger of our seeing books printed that are at risk of ruining the man's hard earned lifetime reputation.

The book is a collection of lectures given by the author to different Central European forums, the earliest one being 1990 but the majority being from late 2004. The subject of all the lectures is the same and an interesting idea, being the impact of how we have interacted in our approach to people from other continents and cultures throughout history. The dangers of the European attitude especially, to other cultures (the "Other" of the book title) and how in a more easily traversed globe having a colonial "centrism" mindset wastes opportunities for interaction and mutual improvement is well made.

The problem is the same point is made repeatedly in the different lectures and by the end of the 80 odd pages, the repetition gets as frustrating as it is enlightening. The book is also not helped by having a lecture style that is very formal and intellectual, one assumes in part driven by the audience the author was addressing. Continual references to certain writers and anthropologists most of whom are one suspects not well known, in turn suffers from repetition especially in the cases of Levinas and Malinowski.

The main benefit of the book is to make some very simple perceptive observations on the subject which get the reader thinking but as a fully conceived and structured body of arguments, it was frustrating to read.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
It's very rare that I come across a book that I consider invaluable, but Kapuscinski's slim valedictory volume is one such work.

At its heart, the book -- a collection of speeches and articles published posthumously -- deals with the apparently incurable and universal human tendency to treat some of their fellow humans as less than human -- as "other". That tendency is what makes possible genocide, racism, discrimination, and many of the other intractable problems that loom ever-larger as the world becomes more globalized and we are forced to deal with groups we consider 'other' more frequently than ever before. Some of the questions associated with 'otherness' are at the core of global conflicts: how can we, for instance, reclaim our heritage and take pride in it without rejecting anyone who does not share that heritage as "other" and not deserving of respect?

A real interest in travel -- as opposed to sightseeing -- and deep curiosity about the world are as rare today as in the days of Herodotus, millennia ago, Kapuscinski argues. Thankfully, he was not only a wonderful writer but an active and observant traveler, drawing on the observations of anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (who noted that whites who lived on the Trobriand Islands had a completely misleading understanding of the local islanders because they lived parallel lives that never overlapped; Malinowski lived in the center of a local village.) Kapuscinski's his analysis of his personal other -- someone non-white, with a strong national or tribal identity and a strong religious identity (what he replies when he is asked whether he believes in God, he writes "will have immense influence on everything that happens thereafter" in his relationship with his questioner) is particularly compelling. But he further still, pondering how that other perceives him -- because to that individual, Kapuscinski himself is the "other".

For all the philosophical ruminations that are implied in the issues that Kapuscinski addresses, this book is written is such a simple, straightforward and powerful way that it is accessible to anyone. At its core, he argues, there is a broad human family to which we all belong. Increasingly, we are going to become aware of that reality, in response to mass migration and emigration into countries that have until now remained relatively isolated on an ethnic basis. He may be an idealist, of course. "We are entering... the Planet of Opportunity," he argues, a world in which history may not be destiny. In a cry from the heart, he concludes by arguing that only generosity of spirit is the right way to transform the "other" into the familiar -- and "touch a chord of humanity in him."

This work is a sad reminder of what we have lost with the death of Ryszard Kapuscinski, a great humanist in the true meaning of that word. For those not familiar with his books, I'd urge you to accompany reading this work with his final opus, a quasi memoir, Travels with Herodotus (Vintage International) or one of his books about Africa, where many of the ideas in this book first took root, such as The Shadow of the Sun
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I wrote stone
I wrote house
I wrote town

I shattered the stone
I demolished the house
I obliterated the town

the page traces the struggles
between creation
and annihilation

This is one of the poems that came out of Kapuscinski's life experiences as a journalist writing of war and revolution, of death and carnage. I'll return to this poem a little later.

Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski died of a quick cancer in January 2007. "The Other," a book published posthumously in 2008, is such a powerful tribute and respectful salute to a man who speaks almost poetically toward people he moved amongst for over half of his career--people he poignantly called the Other.

What constitutes the Other? First, what does not? If you spoke English or any other European language as a native language in the 1800s, you most likely were white and of the West. Everyone else was the Other. Two things in his life made him very aware of his initial viewpoint: his reading of Herodotus and his own book, "Travels with Herodotus (Vintage International), translated into English in 2007, and his choice to live in and report the events of the Global South: Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In fact, Kapuscinski reports, "80% of the world is non-white" (56).

His own thoughts reflect those of his favorite philosophers, who were dialogists: Emmanuel Levinas and Josef Tischner. Here is a simple summary of the three reactions to Others: start war with them, isolate your culture from them, or begin a dialogue. One expanded version was to consider the Other as God in the form of a visitor. How would you treat him? This is the culture of Hospitality as a form of dialogue.

Kapuscinski's most admired anthropologist was Bronislaw Malinowski, who did not just study a group of people: he lived among them, often at great personal sacrifice and anguish. But it was Malinowski who showed that living as the Other himself was much more conducive to creating an open environment. Short of living in another culture to learn to understand it,
one can travel (a short shrift but an effort) and by reading works of writers of other cultures.

This little book (92 pages, plus Index) seemed repetitive and disjointed at times during my reading. However, the four lectures that comprise it were delivered over a period of five years in Vienna and Krakow. It was on the second reading that things came together for me. As a result, I highly recommend this book if you are interested in furthering a Global Village.

Kapuscinski's poem? The translators say that he could write about those things, then with a keystroke, delete them. That governments can "delete" whole villages, whole cultures with a bomb. What about attitudes? If we continue to treat people as Others, as inferiors, are we mentally "deleting?" Perhaps that is why the world is joyfully embracing President-Elect Barack Obama. The Other is Us.
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