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Green Barbarians: Live Bravely on Your Home Planet Paperback – December 29, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sandbeck (Green Housekeeping) offers domestic strategies both ancient and modern to help the ecologically minded reduce their carbon footprints. She convincingly argues that ruthless advertising has made us squeamish, timorous, unnecessarily germophobic, and sick—she links environmental contaminants to the increasing prevalence of asthma and ulcerative colitis. Despite some advice that's more silly than serious (e.g., rather than using napkins, wipe your hands on a slice of bread that you can eat later), she ably demonstrates that real bravery is required to break free from the siren call of stuff. Sandbeck lambastes Americans' addiction to shopping as well as the expected suspects: big pharma, hormone- riddled milk and meat, the cottonseed oil lobby, and factory-style egg production. She roots for kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut as natural immuno-boosters and anticarcinogens, bacteria (as partners in producing Belgian beers and French cheeses), locavores, Seedsavers, composting, freeganism, the cleaning properties of some kinds of dirt, and vaccination and male circumcision as low-cost preventive health care. Even if there is a schism between Sandbeck's championing of local eating and her salivating over French Roquefort, her book promotes greener and cheaper living with skill, wit, and conviction. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

Sandbeck has written a green-living manual with a twist; it harkens back to a more primitive way of life, free of synthetic chemicals and processed foods. Her message may be wrapped in unorthodox language with quotes from such sources as Napoléon and Sun Tzu, but the facts are grounded in traditional assessments and supportive reports, the book’s organization is impressive, and her use of barbarian metaphors brings humor to the subject. Although the information isn’t new, there is a demand for numerous approaches to sustainable living, and readers will appreciate Sandbeck’s often-coy acknowledgment that it requires courage to live green, including the story of a home owner incurring the wrath of her home-owners’ association over her use of a clothesline. Some readers will question the author’s decision to weigh in on the volatile topics of vaccination and circumcision, and rightly so, but otherwise, this is an enjoyable choice for readers seeking guidance in changing their lives in ways big and small. --Colleen Mondor
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Original edition (December 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416571825
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416571827
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,075,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Some people might see the title and think this is yet another eco-book on eco-living or such. In reality, this book is about how far we have drifted from common sense health in the way we live and eat. People are clueless to what's in their food and where it comes from or even how their immune system works (public education victims). Now, if you eat better and live better, one of the results will be a better environment. I.E., if you stop using your cloest full of chemicals, your health gets better, and so does your water supply. Sandbeck may come off anti-corporate, and even though I am far from being that way, there's truth to what she says in many companies. We have fallen into the trap of letting stangers convince us into buying things we don't need and scare us into buying things that don't improve our lives. Sandbeck is concise and funny and touches on a wide variety of topics from food safety, health, corporate funny-business, child well-being and the many myths we believe. A great place to start your efforts to improve your well-being. There is a growing awareness about such things and this book is a valuable addition. For more on the topics in this book, see The Hundred-Year Lie: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That Are Destroying Your Health, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Eat This and Live!, ...Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Green Barbarians is another wonderful title by Ellen Sandbeck. In this book she takes a look at how the fear of various ailments and of bacteria and microbes in particular has led people (especially in western culture) to over-protect themselves into ill health.

Chapters delve into details about the body, food, kitchen, bathroom, laundry, health, pets and children.

If you have read Sandbeck's Green housekeeping you may recognize some of the info and suggestions in the chapters about food, kitchen and bathrooms, she does repeat a little of the information from that book, but overall it's not as in-depth and cleaning-centric as Green Housekeeping.

This book really gives you some insight into some of the ridiculous things that people do that are completely unnecessary and some of the long-forgotten practices that might still be of contemporary use. A lot of the books value come from the condensed results of various research articles and applications that point to surprising results. Especially in the chapter on health where she includes discussion on treating various human ailments with other organisms (biotherapy) like intestinal worms. The bibliography is impressive and the book seems to be very well researched. Also has an effective index for looking up choice statistics or wanting to gross out your roommate with a verbatim reading.

In addition to the informative aspects of this book I also found it highly entertaining. This book had me laughing out loud and reading choice bits to my fiance more than any other recent book. The wit that Sandbeck writes with is indispensable, and though it doesn't take away from the gravity of some of the statements made in this book, it does make them a little easier to face.

Highly recommended, amusing and informative, what more could you ask for?
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Format: Paperback
I picked this book up for a buck at a local bookstore blowout. It's a decent read, and covers many different topics. Some of this I have heard/read before, some was new. The book doesnt give us a "green way" of living, but more so is an attempt to have us question the choices we make in product selection. Much of the book discusses our fears of germs which the writer presents as unfounded. Overall, the book does lack some focus, as the topics vary widely with no disernable goal. While it may be worth a read, and possibly worth adding to your "eco bookshelf' I dont think i would have been happy if I paid full price. I would chalk this one up to a decent pic in the green theme, but far from the best out there.
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Format: Paperback
SAndbeck's research skills have not lessened--this book is as helpful, and practically sound, as her earlier works on the technologies of daily life. This book, though, takes a different tack, which should appeal to conservatives and liberals alike. The kudzu-like growth of fears and restrictions that have typified the last few decades, reducing our sense of our own freedom to act, is her real target here. She advocates less fear and more curiosity, more thinking for ourselves. The lifestyle she describes here is not so different from the one I grew up with in a small town, where the outside world was at least as important and lived-in as the inside one, and where it was understood that human beings are pretty tough animals.

That fear is toxic, and that the strategies we've evolved to protect ourselves from our fears are even more toxic (antibacterial soaps, bleach all over the kitchen, keeping kids out of the dirt, all that) is the message. It's a good one, and amusingly delivered here.
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