Customer Review

99 of 277 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A superficial read if you have experience with HIV and/or Africa, March 11, 2012
This review is from: Tinderbox: How the West Sparked the AIDS Epidemic and How the World Can Finally Overcome It (Hardcover)
I am very surprised at the glowing reviews. This book is a superficial write-up with no new information/concepts provided for people familiar with HIV and/or Africa. Furthermore, there are dangerous generalizations and stereotypes, most towards Africa cultures and people, that I was offended by. Much of the book's excerpts and justifications are based upon anecdotal interactions (with name dropping) that do great disservice to the complexity of the situation and to Africa culture. At times, his explanations and understanding are fine (ex. Beatrice Hahn) but I found these moments were few and far between. Most of the time, his arguments were not justified in a thorough manner and at times, his arguments contradict themselves. Although he gets a few things correct, this is more of a book that should be use in a sociology or anthropology class to demonstrate how a writer's cultural misunderstandings and poor research creates a storyline that is not accurate, complete, or respectful to a culture. I am particularly disappointed that Dr. Halperin's co-authoring of this book didn't provide a more complex and thoughtful discussion of HIV and Africa and that he didn't demand more thorough investigation. I would have a hard time believing that if such a writing sample/research paper was presented to Dr. Halperin in one of his courses at Johns Hopkins, he would give this a passing grade.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 15, 2012 9:35:28 PM PDT
D. Alexander says:
Could you elaborate on the problems you perceive with this book?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 19, 2012 6:37:24 AM PDT
The critique does seem rather thin and I saw this as someone with a social science background (the sort of thing advocated by the reviewer).

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 9:08:00 AM PDT
Tom says:
Reviewer Smith42: I think I understand your sentiment but you don't seem to have given reasons for your judgments. You judge the book is superficial, overlooks complexity, and lacks respect for African culture. Can you please give concrete examples for why you come to these conclusions?

Posted on Sep 25, 2012 10:48:17 AM PDT
I too was intrigued enough by your criticisms to keep reading your review, but was disappointed that you gave no specifics, examples, or elaboration. As someone trying to decide whether or not to buy the book, finding a critical review that was not from one of the anti-circumcision sock puppets was refreshing, but I'd be grateful if you'd edit it to expound and expand on why exactly you feel the way you do.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2012 11:04:28 AM PDT
Tom says:
@ Shelli Meyers: I'm afraid that if you dissect the 'review' here by Smith42, what s/he is giving is itself an example of writing that "should be use [sic] in a sociology or anthropology class". However not, as Smith42 suggests "to demonstrate how a writer's cultural misunderstandings [...] is not [...] respectful to a culture", but rather to demonstrate how Anti-Western Political Correctness can be used to ignore or obscure realism about real problems.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 26, 2012 12:46:30 AM PDT
I was willing to overlook that minor typo, but yeah, this is clearly someone who's learned the buzz phrases minus the critical analysis needed to back them up. I didn't think for an instant I was going to agree with him/her, but I was curious to see if this was more than a superficial knee jerk. Hell, for all we know, it could still be one of the anti-circumcisionists attempting a disguised tactic for implanting a 1-star review.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2012 11:08:49 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 28, 2012 11:09:20 AM PDT
J. R. Tomlin says:
A very general review. It is hard to take it seriously.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2014 8:06:48 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 10, 2014 8:11:29 AM PDT
Mister Mike says:
You nailed it. The author of the review was offended, and he views that as dispositive.
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