I just finished A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit. I ended up with two copies and thought it looked like a book [personal profile] wild_irises would like, then I felt like reading it myself.

Her thesis is that after disasters, ordinary people quickly find ways to help each other and come together in new communities of hope and optimism, despite loss. Authorities and elites are certain that there will be riots and chaos and come in to rule with a heavy hand - for instance, after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, communal kitchens were quickly set up and neighbors helped each other fight fires, while the authorities drove off amateur fire fighting attempts and caused more damage, and the police declared martial law and issued shoot to kill orders for anyone in the damaged area (including rescuers.) It's an interesting idea and she's done a lot of research to back it up.

This is one of those books that should have been a long New Yorker article. She describes various kinds of disasters and the grassroots efforts versus the government reactions with many examples. I skimmed the last half because it became too repetitive. However, it was edifying for me because I was unaware of the scope of the atrocities in the wake of Katrina.

This morning I started Man on the Flying Trapeze: The Life and Times of W. C. Fields, Simon Louvish. It has mixed reviews (people complaining because it has too much script dialog) so we'll see.

It was a big decision because tomorrow we're going to Hawaii for 10 days and I need books for the plane and beach. I'm also taking The monuments men : Allied heros, Nazi thieves, and the greatest treasure hunt in history by Robert M. Edsel and Broken Harbor by Tana French and two more I forget.

Date: 2015-01-15 05:43 pm (UTC)
badgerbag: (Default)
From: [personal profile] badgerbag
Agreed on the Solnit book. It was great, *and* I wished that it were more densely fleshed out. It is well worth reading!

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