A Paradise Built in Hell

A Paradise Built in Hell

The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster

Book - 2009
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From the author of Men Explain Things to Me - "A landmark book that gives impassioned challenge to the social meaning of disasters" ( The New York Times Book Review )

"The freshest, deepest, most optimistic account of human nature I've come across in years."
-Bill McKibben

Chosen as a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times , Los Angeles Times , New Yorker , San Francisco Chronicle , Washington Post , and Chicago Tribune

The most startling thing about disasters, according to award-winning author Rebecca Solnit, is not merely that so many people rise to the occasion, but that they do so with joy. That joy reveals an ordinarily unmet yearning for community, purposefulness, and meaningful work that disaster often provides. A Paradise Built in Hell is an investigation of the moments of altruism, resourcefulness, and generosity that arise amid disaster's grief and disruption and considers their implications for everyday life. It points to a new vision of what society could become-one that is less authoritarian and fearful, more collaborative and local.
Publisher: New York : Penguin, 2009.
ISBN: 9780143118077
Characteristics: viii, 353 p. ;,21 cm.


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Aug 21, 2018

This book made an impression on me. In a dystopian year--as I write this, the sky outside is orange with smoke from wildfires--it's essential work to examine our beliefs about how humans behave when pushed to extremes by circumstance. Solnit's research and analysis is wide-ranging, and I sometimes felt only 90% convinced by her arguments. But overall I found her writing profound and hopeful. PARADISE left me feeling like I had new strategies and new energy in the struggle against doom and toward that beloved community.

Sep 14, 2015

Solnit goes to some lengths to de-bunk the idea of mindless chaos after disasters, sometimes to the point of 'yeah, okay I get it.' If her tone sometimes gets a little breathless, her research continues to keep her grounded: she's no crackpot. This is going on my Preparedness/Must Read list.

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