From Publishers Weekly
Lappe popularized what she argued was the moral imperative of eating vegetarian in her 1971 classic, Diet for a Small Planet; Perkins co-founded the nonprofit Curious Minds, which helps youth identify and work towards a future vocation. Their idealistic treatise attempts to turn the constricting presence of fear into a "power to create the lives we want and the world we want." According to Perkins and Lappe, fear is spread by politicians and media that encourage people to be frightened of other countries and cultures, and that magnify the danger of crime. The result, they argue, is an emotionally paralyzed population, immobilized against real global dangers. In order to take action against environmental degradation, hunger and species extinction, people must dare to act, they say, and overcome fear by leaping into the unknown with creative solutions. They cite numerous examples of those who have helped trigger change in themselves and the world by taking risks. A woman named Jane Stern, for example, faced down a lifelong phobia about illness by becoming a volunteer medical technician and helping others who were sick and dying. After reading a newspaper story about a murdered homeless Guatemalan boy, a Manhattan chef changed his life, despite initial terror, by going to Guatemala and establishing a program for inner-city children. Lappe shares the way she coped with her fears after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, while Perkins describes how he found the courage to tell his parents that he was gay. This a fine collection of engrossing and inspiring anecdotes rather than a how-to manual, by two people who obviously care about the world and its people.
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Fear comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be as personal as a trip to the dentist or as pervasive as a Department of Homeland Security-issued orange alert. It can be paralyzing and painful, debilitating and embarrassing. It can also be liberating. The authors share personal revelations, from Lappe's breast cancer diagnosis to Perkins' coming out as gay, and apply the lessons they learned about coping with fear to individuals and cultures. Exploring ways in which fear engulfs us, they acknowledge the rationalizations used to avoid actions that have the potential to make people happier, freer, and more productive, and societies more compassionate, valiant, and proactive. Whether it's based in conflict, oppression, intimidation, or isolation, fear must first be understood before it ultimately can be destroyed. In this unique and uplifting examination of an elemental human condition, the authors offer concrete methods for conquering those demons that threaten to rob us of a joyful existence and a peaceful coexistence. Carol Haggas
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