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Natural and man-made disasters can be utopias that showcase human solidarity and point the way to a freer society, according this stimulating contrarian study. Solnit (River of Shadows) reproves civil defense planners, media alarmists and Hollywood directors who insist that disasters produce terrified mobs prone to looting, murder and cannibalism unless controlled by armed force and government expertise. Surveying disasters from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, she shows that the typical response to calamity is spontaneous altruism, self-organization and mutual aid, with neighbors and strangers calmly rescuing, feeding and housing each other. Indeed, the main problem in such emergencies, she contends, is the elite panic of officials who clamp down with National Guardsmen and stifling regulations. Solnit falters when she generalizes her populist brief into an anarchist critique of everyday society that lapses into fuzzy what-ifs and uplifting volunteer testimonials. Still, this vividly written, cogently argued book makes a compelling—and timely—case for the ability of ordinary people to collectively surmount the direst of challenges. (Sept.)
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REBECA SOLNIT is the author of ten books, including River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, which won five awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism and the Mark Lynton History Prize. In 2003, Solnit received a prestigious Lannon Literary Award. She is a contributing editor to Harper's and a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times and the London Review of Books.
I love this book. It is beautifully written and tells a story about the heroic nature of humanity in
I enjoy all Rebecca Solnit's writings. She explores a subject well and brings her own view to cudgel the mind to think in different ways. I always learn from her.Published 4 months ago by Karin Engstrom
This book is about way more than what happens to people after disasters. It's a meditation on what people really want from their society and how periods of instability often reveal... Read morePublished 4 months ago by J. Wohl
I was really impressed by this book. I'm not usually a fan of nonfiction but this book held my attention. Read morePublished 5 months ago by M. Reading
Having grown up around EMT workers, and now being a firefighter's wife myself, the topic of this book struck my curiosity. Unfortunately, I didn't love it. Read morePublished 7 months ago by EpicFehlReader
Another amazing Rebecca Solnit book. Terrible reading by an actor allowed to do broad caricature voices, undermining the material.Published 9 months ago by Scott Jackson
I just really couldn't get into this book. It jumped around a lot and rambled. I wanted to like it, but I just couldn't.Published 10 months ago by Caitlin
Rebecca Skolnit's book should become important to us, because we already seem to be working our way through what could well become a whole series of disasters and catastrophes... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Elizabeth L. Seaton Frankfort