A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity

A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity

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by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn

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An essential, galvanizing narrative about making a difference here and abroad—a road map to becoming the most effective global citizens we can be.In their number one New York Times best seller Half the Sky, husband-and-wife team Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn brought to light struggles faced by women and girls around the globe, and

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An essential, galvanizing narrative about making a difference here and abroad—a road map to becoming the most effective global citizens we can be.In their number one New York Times best seller Half the Sky, husband-and-wife team Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn brought to light struggles faced by women and girls around the globe, and showcased individuals and institu­tions working to address oppression and expand opportunity. A Path Appears is even more ambi­tious in scale: nothing less than a sweeping tap­estry of people who are making the world a better place and a guide to the ways that we can do the same—whether with a donation of $5 or $5 mil­lion, with our time, by capitalizing on our skills as individuals, or by using the resources of our businesses. With scrupulous research and on-the-ground reporting, the authors assay the art and science of giving, identify successful local and global initiatives, and share astonishing stories from the front lines of social progress. We see the compelling, in­spiring truth of how real people have changed the world, upending the idea that one person can’t make a difference. We meet people like Dr. Gary Slutkin, who devel­oped his landmark Cure Violence program to combat inner-city conflicts in the United States by applying principles of epidemiology; Lester Strong, who left a career as a high-powered television anchor to run an organization bringing in older Americans to tu­tor students in public schools across the country; MIT development economist Esther Duflo, whose pioneering studies of aid effectiveness have revealed new truths about, among other things, the power of hope; and Jessica Posner and Kennedy Odede, who are transforming Kenya’s most notorious slum by ex­panding educational opportunities for girls. A Path Appears offers practical, results-driven advice on how best each of us can give and reveals the lasting benefits we gain in return. Kristof and WuDunn know better than most how many urgent challenges communities around the world face to­day. Here they offer a timely beacon of hope for our collective future.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Joint Pulitzer Prize winners for their coverage of China, New York Times op-ed columnist Kristof and his wife, WuDunn, a former Times reporter and founder of a firm dedicated to promoting the idea of blending charitable mission into for-profit work, are known for their crusading work on human rights. Their three books include Half the Sky, a huge New York Times best seller on women's rights worldwide, which spawned a Half the Sky movement and a PBS documentary. Here they examine individuals who are making a difference, aiming not simply to get us to contribute time, skills, and/or money to their efforts but to parse which approaches and initiatives really work. The forthcoming four-part PBS documentary amplifies the message. With a 200,000-copy first printing.
The New York Times Book Review - Paul Collier
In the wrong hands, A Path Appears is a dangerous book: You wouldn't want to leave it lying around where your teenager might glance at it. He might get diverted from that reassuring ambition to be a banker. Frankly, only scoundrels and saints can read this book safely: Everyone else will find it upsetting and uplifting in equal measure. I certainly did. If you want to carry on with your life just as it is, best give it a miss. Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn show you, through many amazing vignettes matched with serious evidence, that you can make a difference to the lives of people trapped in misery…So, while protecting your teenagers, don't protect yourself. Read this book. Seize one of the many opportunities it lists, and change lives for the better, including your own.
Publishers Weekly
“It’s time to rethink what a charity should be,” write award-winning husband-and-wife journalists Kristof and WuDunn (coauthors of Half the Sky) in their latest collaboration, which will be the basis of a PBS series. Such is the tone of this broadly inclusive and multifaceted account of possible solutions to today’s “overwhelming and unrelenting” social problems. Heartening anecdotal sketches of both givers and receivers in the “charity industry” are engaging and informative, and Kristof and WuDunn hope to provoke serious thought about the role of charity in today’s world. They applaud “innovators who are using research, evidence-based strategies, and brilliant ideas of their own to prevent violence, improve health, boost education, and spread opportunity at home and around the world.” Of particular note is Kristoff and WuDunn’s endorsement of “social entrepreneurship” and for-profit organizations as the most promising models for change. Readers may quibble with their points of emphasis, but Kristof and WuDunn’s commitment and passion for substantial action is inspiring. The book’s appendix includes a valuable list of organizations that work in education, crime and violence prevention, family planning, public health, and other fields. Agent: Anne Sibbald, Janklow & Nesbit. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
“Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn show you, through many amazing vignettes matched with serious evidence, that you can make a difference. . . . Read this book. Seize one of the many opportunities it lists, and change lives for the better, including your own.” —The New York Times Book Review

A Path Appears is an exhaustive though not exhausting profile of giving, with surprising guidance—indeed, coaching—on how to be an effective giver. . . . Upon finishing the book, readers are likely to . . . find themselves willing to do something in the world, unconcerned by questions of scale, but instead, to simply become more engaged, and in that, alive.” —The Boston Globe

“[A Path Appears] opens an important conversation for anyone interested in how to contribute to catalyzing positive change . . . [it] sheds light on the exploitation and inequity that exist in our own backyard, while also spotlighting the individuals overcoming it.” —Christian Science Monitor

“Readers will be inspired by the stories [Kristof and WuDunn] tell….There are so many problems in the world, and so many organizations wanting charitable donations, that we can sometimes feel overwhelmed. [The authors] help us weed through those issues and find that path so we can make a difference.” —National Geographic.com

“Engaging and informative. . . . Kristof and WuDunn’s commitment and passion for substantial action is inspiring.” —Publishers Weekly

“[Kristof and WuDunn’s] vibrant portraits of ordinary citizens who are motivated to effect real and dramatic change present a rallying call to action and a voice for the power of volunteerism….This is a slow-go read in the most positive sense; it is hard not to constantly put down the book in order to further investigate the many exemplary causes that are profiled.” —Booklist

“The authors deliver a profound message that packs a wallop.” —Kirkus

A Path Appears . . . shows how someone with little can make a massive difference to the world we live in.” —The Christian Post

“This is a lyrical guide that addresses the deep human yearning to make a difference. It’s full of indelible stories reminding us that, yes, helping people is hard—but it’s both possible and infinitely rewarding. A Path Appears offers practical steps that any of us can take to empower others, and ourselves.” —Anne Rice 
“Nobody clarifies the social challenges of our time, or the moral imperative to help meet them, better than Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Their latest book, A Path Appears, offers an inspiring roundup of the many simple and effective ways in which we can lend our hearts and talents to grow hope and opportunity both at home and around the globe—and an important reminder that just because we can’t do everything doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something.” —President Bill Clinton
“Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have done us all a great service by shining a light on the problems faced by the poor. These stories of real people struggling for survival and opportunity serve as a powerful reminder that poverty is complex and painful, but the call to action doesn’t need to be. With insight, compassion and optimism, Kristof and WuDunn show us that we can all play a role in making the world a better place. A Path Appears is a compelling read that can’t help but to educate and energize.”  —Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
 “Cold facts, flesh and blood stories - the written word is their loud hailer. They write, we read, and our world view is not the same. Nick and Sheryl’s meticulous arguments and free flowing eloquence is what inspires their readers to become activists . . . myself included.” —Bono, lead singer of U2 and Co-Founder of ONE and (RED)

A Path Appears is an insightful book focused on how individuals can contribute to positive change and the remarkable people behind the organizations that make it happen. The authors’ desire to motivate people to support good causes, learn about the situation in other countries, and find the best way to help their fellow men and women is inspiring.” —Angelina Jolie
“This book is a class act. Its insights and honesty touch me on the deepest of levels and inspire me to raise my game to help the poor.” —Bill Hybels, founding pastor, Willow Creek Community Church

“Helping suffering people around the world to transform their own lives is a rewarding challenge we all share as citizens of a global community. A Path Appears is a helpful and inspiring guide for anyone who wonders what difference a single person can make in building a more hopeful world.” —President Jimmy Carter, founder of the not-for-profit Carter Center

“Rare is the book that can actually transform us into better, more fulfilled people. Having combed through the research and documented case studies all over the world, Kristof and WuDunn present the clearest view I have ever seen of the human soul. A Path Appears tells us whether we are intrinsically good, why specific ways we parent our newborns help predict their chances for success, and how we can live lives of greater significance. This book, full of rich and riveting true stories, reminds us that human greatness is all around us, and even within us, if we dare to look.” —Ann Curry

“Have you ever thought that compared with so many people in the world, you are blessed and should try to help those less fortunate—but you worry that you just don’t know how to do it in a smart and effective way? Your problem has been solved.  Read this engaging, moving, inspiring book. It will tell you about the world’s myriad problems but also the dazzling array of efforts to solve them. It will tell you how you can make a difference—even if all you have is ten minutes or forty dollars. And it will remind you that by giving to others you will gain for yourself the ultimate gift, a meaningful life.” —Fareed Zakaria

“While reading A Path Appears, I felt I was taking a much needed rest under a shaded grove of trees on my own journey to ‘make a difference.’ I highly recommend it as an absolutely terrific investment of time that will leave those who read it more hopeful and motivated.”  Deborah Fikes, executive advisor of the World Evangelical Alliance

Kirkus Reviews
A primer on "finding innovative and effective ways to give back," from Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalists Kristof and WuDunn (Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, 2009, etc.). In their fourth collaborative effort, the husband-and-wife team addresses how ordinary people can participate in "a revolution in tackling social problems, employing new savvy, discipline and experience to chip away at poverty and injustice." While big-name charitable givers such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates garner the headlines, the authors cite surprising statistics showing that poor and middle-class Americans collectively donate more to charity than the heavy hitters. Small, targeted donations can make a major difference in the lives of children by providing clean water and inexpensive medications—e.g., deworming an African or Asian child for a cost of only 50 cents per year. Kristof and WuDunn cut across ideological barriers in their discussion of how to address poverty in America, and they reject the notion that charitable giving is an alternative to government intervention; both are needed. "Let's recognize that success in life is a reflection not only of enterprise and will power but also of chance and early upbringing," they write, "and that compassion isn't a sign of weakness but a mark of civilization." They make a strong case for the importance of early intervention in the lives of children, as well as prenatal assistance and guidance to mothers. These challenges are especially evident on Native American reservations, where fetal alcohol syndrome is prevalent. Using anecdotes to illustrate their case, the authors squarely face the problems inherent in charitable giving, and they examine how clever-sounding projects may look good on paper but prove ineffective in the field. Noting that "the ability to empower others [by] giving is self-empowering," they warn that social entrepreneurship must be accompanied by practical business experience and careful management; this means monitoring outcomes as well as initiatives. The authors deliver a profound message that packs a wallop.

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt

Dr. Gary Slutkin was back in Chicago, his hometown, feeling restless. He was a rumpled infectious diseases specialist who had spent most of his career in San Francisco and Africa, battling tuberculosis, AIDS, and cholera. But he had burned out in refugee camps, his marriage had fallen apart, and now it was time to be nearer to his elderly parents. He had no clue what to do for work.

As he explored options, Slutkin began hearing about gang violence in Chicago, about ten-year-olds shooting other kids; this was shocking, but it also sounded more like Somalia and other places he knew. Slutkin began to study inner-city violence and pored over graphs of homicides and shootings—and to an epidemiologist they all seemed oddly familiar.

“It hit me: this is an infectious disease,” he said. The more Slutkin looked at urban violence, the more he felt that it had been misdiagnosed as solely a crime problem when in many ways it was a contagion analogous to cholera or leprosy. As with other contagions, an infection depends upon exposure among susceptible people who have low resistance or compromised immunity. Slutkin saw that “an epidemic of violence” is more than just a metaphor; in some ways murder actually spreads like a contagious disease.

“It is just as tuberculosis begets tuberculosis, or flu begets flu,” Slutkin says, “that violence begets violence.”

Once Slutkin had the insight that violence could be considered, in part, an infectious disease, he decided to tackle it as a public health problem and slow the epidemic. He started an organization called Cure Violence, and turned to ex-convicts and former gang members to act as health outreach workers and interrupt the contagion. When someone is shot, they go to the hospital room to counsel against a retaliatory hit. They gather intelligence on threats and negotiate peaceful solutions. More broadly, they try to change community norms so that those who use violence are scorned rather than respected. “Violence is learned behavior,” says Gary Slutkin. “Violence can also be unlearned behavior.”

In recent years, the Cure Violence model has spread to other cities in the United States and abroad—even to Iraq and Colombia—and results have been remarkable. Careful evaluations have found that Cure Violence can reduce serious violence by one-quarter or more, at a negligible cost. Gary Slutkin thinks that with some tweaking and enough resources, the model could reduce homicides by 70 percent.

Rachel Beckwith, Lester Strong, and Dr. Gary Slutkin reflect a yearning to express our humanity by finding innovative and effective ways to give back. We crave meaning and purpose in life, and one way to find it is to connect to a cause larger than ourselves. This book is about innovators who are using research, evidence- based strategies, and brilliant ideas of their own to prevent violence, improve health, boost education, and spread opportunity at home and around the world—and to suggest to the rest of us specific ways in which we too can make a difference in the world. Some of these people we highlight raise or contribute the money, such as Rachel and her family and admirers who made something inspiring out of a tragedy. Some are organizers, such as Slutkin and Strong. Many more are foot soldiers. Together, they are all part of a revolution in tack- ling social problems, employing new savvy, discipline, and experience to chip away at poverty and injustice. On many issues ranging from failing schools in America to intestinal parasites in Africa, there are fascinating new approaches to making a difference; in some cases, the progress is startling.

So many social problems in the twenty-first century seem intractable and insoluble. We explore Mars and embed telephones in wrist- watches, but we can’t keep families safe in the inner cities. We can map subatomic particles such as gluons, and we can design robots that drive cars, respond to speech, and defeat grandmasters in chess, but we grudgingly accept failure in our struggles to keep kids in school, off drugs, and out of gangs. Many of us know that it’s wrong and unfair that boys growing up in certain zip codes are more likely to end up in prison than in college, but we throw up our hands and surrender to the exigencies of ghetto life. Violence and poverty, whether in Congo or Chicago, remain towering realities.

We started our married life together as foreign correspondents for The New York Times, and we have wondered for years how we can do a better job addressing the needs around us. Not everyone can help fight crime in a city’s worst neighborhoods or volunteer in schools, so most of us are left to engage in piecemeal efforts such as a donation here or there. Like many Americans, we have day jobs we need to keep, and we have been busy raising our children; that has left us looking for great causes and people to support in modest ways. We aren’t regular churchgoers who focus our giving on a particular religious establishment, and although we wanted to lend a hand, we never knew how to choose among the appeals from nonprofits that inundated us. Basically, we were mystified about how best to assist at home as well as abroad. So we investigated how one can do a better job of making a difference, how one can help institute effective change. This book is the fruit of our labors.

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