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review 2018-10-30 02:34
So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo
So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

Really I don't have any interest in talking about race. What I want is to be a better human in a way that is helpful to other human beings. Oluo is someone I follow on Twitter. Her writing is wonderfully clear and straightforward and also surprisingly kind.  But so practical! Mostly I try to avoid ever talking to anyone about anything, but this book lays out for me concrete times and places and ways to use my privilege to benefit others. Surprisingly kind because withstanding a lifetime of abuse by society should enrage everyone. Our culture is cruel and dehumanizing and grossly unfair, and some days it is all I can do not to run screaming. This is what we have made and it is awful and cruel and murderous. It is prejudiced and short sighted and stupid and it is only the astounding grace and kindness of individuals in the worst moments that make it worthwhile.

I want to make life easier and better and more just for everyone and I thank Oluo for taking the time to share her wisdom and determination and to encourage me forward in the light. Right now feels very dark, so I am grateful to all those who can show me a way forward and give me hope not just that we can do better, but that we will rise up and choose to do better. Sometimes just looking after those closest to me is all I can manage and not even do that well. But more often I can listen, and learn, and witness, and maybe, just a little more, I can speak. And remember, every day that humankind is my business.

 

Library copy

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review 2018-10-23 06:04
Plagues and Peoples by William Hardy McNeill
Plagues and Peoples - William Hardy McNeill

TITLE:  Plagues and Peoples

 

AUTHOR:  William Hardy McNeill

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  1998, first published 1976

 

FORMAT:  ebook

 

ISBN-13:  9780307773661

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DESCRIPTION:

"Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact--political, demographic, ecological, and psychological--of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic plague in China, to the typhoid epidemic in Europe, the history of disease is the history of humankind. With the identification of AIDS in the early 1980s, another chapter has been added to this chronicle of events, which William McNeill explores in his new introduction to this updated editon.

Thought-provoking, well-researched, and compulsively readable, Plagues and Peoples is that rare book that is as fascinating as it is scholarly, as intriguing as it is enlightening. "A brilliantly conceptualized and challenging achievement" (Kirkus Reviews), it is essential reading, offering a new perspective on human history.
"

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This is an interesting and somewhat scholarly look at how people and diseases have interacted and evolved together over time, from "man the hunter" to "the ecological impact of medical science and organization since 1700".  McNeil examines macroparisitic and microparisitic effects on the growth of civilizations, focusing primarily on diseases and how epidemics have effected world history, the course of civilization and human evolution.

I found the sections where the author discusses the "living conditions" of diseases particularly interesting:  how a specific disease inhabited a certain enviornment, how it arrived and survived in that environment, and how those environments may have been altered by human impacts such as agricultural activities, population growth (or lack thereof), how the disease spread to other areas etc.  McNeill's comparison between human micro-parasites (bacteria, worms, viruses) and our macro-parasites (governments, armies ,raiders, plunderers) was a particularly thought-provoking and novel (to me) aspect of the book.

The book was originally published in 1976, so some details are a bit dated, but this doesn't detract from the overall thesis.  The writing style is also a bit "old-fashioned" if that sort of thing bothers you.  The author does, however, make use of historical sources that include as much of the globe as possible, so the spread between and effects of epidemics on Europe as well as of China, India, the Middle-East, the America's and Africa are discussed where possible (allowing for existing source material on these regions).

This is an interesting, fundamental and thought-provoking book about the interactions of humans and diseases and the course of human history.

 

 

 

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review 2018-08-19 06:00
The Road to Jonestown
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

This was a well researched, well written book that really had me from page one. It was packed with details I didn't know already.

 

The story of the Peoples Temple is one of utter tragedy because I honestly believe most of those people really did just want a better world. But I will never truly know how to feel about Jones. Was he always evil? Or did he just turn into a wicked man through corruption? None of us will ever know because he was a man of contradictions. In the end, he was a murderer and that is what we all remember him for.

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text 2018-08-18 17:19
Reading progress update: I've read 347 out of 468 pages.
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

This man was so hung up on suicide, but not just regular "selfish" suicide. Nooooo. Killing yourself for his cause, which is different. 

 

I am going to add here that I am a suicidal personality and I stay medicated. For those of us that are genuinely sick, we don't consider it selfish but relieving not only ourselves but society of us. I detest people who do not understand suicide thinking it's either self-centered or grandiose ala 13 Reasons Why.

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text 2018-08-17 20:49
Reading progress update: I've read 240 out of 468 pages.
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

"...Amos said that to prove her gratitude to the Temple and its leader, she would only feed her three children birdseed so that the money she saved on more traditional food could be donated to Temple programs."

 

1. And CPS was gloriously born.

 

2. Not even a bird can survive on just birdseed. I should know. Danny has to eat veggies, seed, pellets and sometimes even meat.

 

3. "traditional" food

 

4. Wtf?

 

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