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The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty Paperback – September 14, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Part plea, part manifesto, part handbook, this short and surprisingly compelling book sets out to answer two difficult questions: why people in affluent countries should donate money to fight global poverty and how much each should give. Singer (Animal Liberation) dismantles the justifications people make for not giving and highlights the successes of such efforts as microfinance in Bangladesh, GiveWells charitable giving and the 50% League, where members donate more than half their wealth. Singer alternately cajoles and scolds: he pillories Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, who has given less than his former partner, Bill Gates, and lives far more extravagantly: His toys include a large collection of vintage military aircraft and a 413-foot oceangoing yacht called Octopus that cost him over $200 million and has a permanent crew of sixty. Singer contrasts Allens immoderation with the work of Paul Farmer (a cofounder of the international social justice organization Partners in Health) and the cost of basic health services in Haiti ($3,500 per life saved), or malaria nets ($623–$2,367 per life saved). Singer doesnt ask readers to choose between asceticism and self-indulgence; his solution can be found in the middle, and it is reasonable and rewarding for all. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Advance praise for The Life You Can Save
“Part plea, part manifesto, part handbook, this short and surprisingly compelling book sets out to answer two difficult questions: why people in affluent countries should donate money to fight global poverty and how much each should give. . . . Singer doesn’t ask readers to choose between asceticism and self-indulgence; his solution can be found in the middle, and it is reasonable and rewarding for all.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“If you think you can’t afford to give money to the needy, I urge you to read this book. If you think you’re already giving enough, and to the right places, still I urge you to read this book. In The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer makes a strong case–logical and factual, but also emotional–for why each of us should be doing more for the world’s impoverished. This book will challenge you to be a better person.”
–Holden Karnofsky, co-founder, GiveWell
“In The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer challenges each of us to ask: Am I willing to make poverty history? Skillfully weaving together parable, philosophy, and hard statistics, he tackles the most familiar moral, ethical, and ideological obstacles to building a global culture of philanthropy, and sets the bar for how we as citizens might do our part to empower the world’s poor.”
–Raymond C. Offenheiser, president, Oxfam America
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Singer's argument that we should give to the world's poorest people is the same as he has articulated it for many years and this book adds little or nothing on that front. However this book also tackles the questions of why we fail to give and what can be done to encourage people to give. Regarding these issues, this book is perhaps the best available on the subject, especially for mainstream readers. Singer's adept treatment of these questions sets him up well to conclude by asking the reader to pledge to give a minimum portion of their income to world's poorest people.
After reading this book I decided to accept Singer's challenge (look for my name on the website). Indeed, I felt compelled to give at a rate higher than he outlines for my income level. I asked my business partners to read the book. I'm now circulating that copy among other professional contacts. I purchased a second book to circulate among friends and family. I'm working with my payroll service on a plan to help my co-workers to give. It's a modest start, but I'm still proud of it and excited to do more.
It seems that even a cursory review of the facts on the ground and Singer's logic will force one to conclude that the argument is sound. Despite this, I was content to simply be a selfish lout for a long time. This book was a key element in my choice to change my own life in order to help the world's worst off. I highly recommend it to everyone and especially those who are looking for the nudge to get themselves out of complacency.