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You Are Here Hardcover – September 23, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a travelogue heavy on statistics but disappointingly pale in atmospherics, Kostigan (The Green Book) invites readers to accompany him on a trip into the thick of the most environmentally tenuous places on the planet to observe the havoc caused by human behavior, from Jerusalem, where acid rain and global warming–induced salt weathering are wearing down the Western Wall, to the sewage-logged Great Lakes. He visits the future: the orgy of color, mayhem, flash modernity, and squalor of Mumbai; Linfen City, China, the dirtiest place on Earth; and the Eastern Garbage Patch, a mid-Pacific lethal marine habitat of trash twice the size of Texas. Post-trip, Kostigen exclaims, Now I see people in my actions.... I feel differently about what I do and what it does to the planet. Unfortunately, his feeble powers of description convey little feeling to the reader (the Amazon jungle is definitely a bit of Survivor out here) and his naïvely optimistic claim that We have changed the Earth's natural course of development and we can just as easily change its course again—for the better is less than convincing. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Kostigen travels the globe to connect the dots between countries, cultures and personal choices. He opens in Jerusalem, pointing out the damage done by excess greenhouse gases to icons like the Western Wall. From there he visits Mumbai, which is threatened by rising water levels, and Linfen City, China, whose air pollution, a quarter of it caused by manufacturing goods for the U.S., negatively impacts California. Relentless demand for palm oil is destroying Borneo forests, and excess trash is forming floating garbage patches in the Pacific. Kostigen bears witness to the adverse impact of wasteful environmental practices, then writes riveting passages about how our consuming lifestyles are causing monumental catastrophes. We suffer, he writes, “from a sense of immunity.” Certainly we need crash courses like this one, from knowledgeable authors who educate instead of preach. A Paul Theroux type with an environmental agenda, Kostigen doesn’t tell us to save the world; he shows us the price already being paid for our failure to do so. --Colleen Mondor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (September 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061580368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061580369
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #732,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Kostigen sets out to write a book that informs us how connected we are to each other and how our actions affect people and environments we don't see. I am someone who cares about the environment and have done some reading on the topic and thus this book provided nothing new. If you have not read anything on the topic then you may find this book informative--I found it redundant and simplistic. Here are some examples to justify the latter comment:

Page 174: "I'd swap a burger for a salad every once in a while. This is how water-saving actions here affect people, places, and things 'there.'" Elsewhere in the book he suggests maybe not flushing the toilet to conserve water (of course there are toilet water conservation kits that may be a better and aromatically preferred choice).

Page 199: "I can--we can--make a simple difference by investigating where our clothes come from and whether they are made sustainably. It isn't easy figuring it out." Then he goes on to talk about plastic. One thing I struggle with is if it isn't easy for someone who writes a book on the topic to figure it out, he is not being very helpful by telling people to investigate where our clothes come from.

He concludes on page 207: "We can just as easily change its [the Earth] course again--for the better. Embracing knowledge and creating awareness can reshape our lives and make the future more certain."

Maybe this is my main problem with the book; change is NOT going to be easy and fixing the problems we have created is not going to be as simple as having a salad once in a while or not flushing the toilet sometimes. It is going to take a change in the way we live, interact, and act "civilized."
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Format: Hardcover
Tom Kostigen does all the leg work as he takes us to the earth's most polluted, environmentally corrupt places to remind us of one beautiful truth: we are all connected by the earth. We are all affected by what we do to it.

He links my toothpaste to the gangster-run logging camps and palm oil industry of Borneo. He explores the world's dirtiest city, Linfen City, China and how it affects global climate change and investigates a garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean twice the size of Texas! Why is this the first time I'm hearing about this?!

He travels to these ugly places, deals with shady guides, guards and gatekeepers to open our eyes. He urges us to live simply and be conscious of what we use.
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Format: Hardcover
Thomas Kostigen's book made me see how remarkably inter-connected we are, at home and across the globe.
I was particularly struck by how, as a nation, we largely and collectively presume that because we dutifully divide our garbage into color-coded receptacles, our consumption responsibilities are complete. Oh, how wrong we are! And while Kostigen gives us a lot to feel shameful for he ultimately speaks with optimism. And best of all he writes with humor and hope. A highly relatable, useful and thought provoking read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book should be required reading for middle school thru college. This is type of book that people like Oprah should lend their weight to in their personal clubs. If just 50% of the world's population read this book and followed some of the small suggestions for improvement, generations of people would benefit. I urge everyone to read this book - it is so interesting and presents facts easily understood - and change something in their life style to help save the habitable world.
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Format: Hardcover
Unlike the five people who gave this book five stars, I think the text leaves substantial room for improvement. Kostigen's writing style is choppy and inconsistent, and I found that it didn't really hold my interest, even though I think the subject matter is critically important. There are many books in print on subjects such as climate change, ocean health and ways to reduce your environmental impact. Unfortunately, I don't think this is one of the better ones.
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Format: Hardcover
While this book does offer a lot in terms of information, the writing itself leaves much to be desired. The author's writing style is all over the place, jumping from topic to topic as if he jotted down ideas and the book headed straight to publication from there. After a few chapters I was fed up with trying to follow his train of thought. I would suggest reading about this topic from a different source.
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