East Austin Book Club

Discussing books together, on the third Monday of every month at Native Hostel & Bar on Zoom, 7pm sharp

A Paradise Built in Hell

by Rebecca Solnit

Cover artwork for A Paradise Built in Hell

Prize-winning author Solnit (A Field Guide to Getting Lost) delivers an insightful glimpse into the compelling human interest stories behind five major disasters: the San Fransisco earthquake of 1906, the Halifax explosion of 1917, Mexico City's 1985 earthquake, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina. But more than just the stories, she turns her attention to the larger subject of the sociology of disasters and the incredible community spirit that can arise amid disaster. In contrast to media portrayals of negative human behavior in times of distress, Solnit believes that humans have an intrinsic need to help each other and work together in communities forged by disaster. These surreal situations demonstrate how deeply most of us desire connection, participation, altruism, and purposefulness. Thus the startling joy in disasters. Solnit wonders if some of these ephemeral moments could be recaptured in our normal day-to-day routines, thus enhancing our sense of community. VERDICT Despite wandering into some murky what-ifs, this book offers a timely study in community during these uncertain times.

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