A Paradise Built in Hell

A Paradise Built in Hell

The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster

Book - 2010
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Explores the phenomenon through which people become resourceful and altruistic after a disaster and communities reflect a shared sense of purpose, analyzing events ranging from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to Hurricane Katrina.
Publisher: New York :, Penguin Books,, 2010.
ISBN: 9780143118077
Branch Call Number: 303.485 SO
Characteristics: viii, 353 pages ; 22 cm


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Wonderfully written and researched the book tells various stories of self-organizational efforts in response to disasters. One of the interesting thoughts in this book is that centralized efforts of a big government to organize volunteers and to deliver aid are always doomed -- somewhat counter to the current liberals supporting Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Solidarity, Not Charity is the motto of various volunteers ranging from far-right to far-left -- from evangelist Christians to anarchists -- who were able to unite nevertheless under the sole desire to help.

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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