How to Change the World

Overview

THE SCHOOL OF LIFE IS DEDICATED TO EXPLORING LIFE’S BIG QUESTIONS IN HIGHLY-PORTABLE PAPERBACKS, FEATURING FRENCH FLAPS AND DECKLE EDGES, THAT THE NEW YORK TIMES CALLS “DAMNABLY CUTE.” WE DON’T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS, BUT WE WILL DIRECT YOU TOWARDS A VARIETY OF USEFUL IDEAS THAT ARE GUARANTEED TO STIMULATE, PROVOKE, AND CONSOLE.
 
We all want to live in a better world, but sometimes it feels like we lack the ability to make a difference. ...

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How to Change the World

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Overview

THE SCHOOL OF LIFE IS DEDICATED TO EXPLORING LIFE’S BIG QUESTIONS IN HIGHLY-PORTABLE PAPERBACKS, FEATURING FRENCH FLAPS AND DECKLE EDGES, THAT THE NEW YORK TIMES CALLS “DAMNABLY CUTE.” WE DON’T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS, BUT WE WILL DIRECT YOU TOWARDS A VARIETY OF USEFUL IDEAS THAT ARE GUARANTEED TO STIMULATE, PROVOKE, AND CONSOLE.
 
We all want to live in a better world, but sometimes it feels like we lack the ability to make a difference. Author, broadcaster, and journalist John-Paul Flintoff offers a powerful reminder that through the generations, society has been transformed by the actions of individuals who understood that if they didn’t like something, they could change it.

Combining fresh new insights from history and other disciplines, this book will give you a sense of what might just be possible, as well as the inspiration and the courage you need to go about improving and changing the world we live in.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It’s easy to feel ineffectual amid the much-publicized exploits of the movers and shakers of the world, but broadcaster and journalist Flintoff (Comp: A Survivor’s Tale) argues in this installment of the School Of Life series that anyone can make a difference. Using a range of real-life examples—from the fall of the Berlin Wall (“when enough people came, the soldiers had to let them through”) to the solitary stand of resistance by “Tank Man” in Tiananmen Square—the author shows that the secret to making an impact isn’t restricted to monumental acts of aid. Rather, Flintoff insists that people must align their passions and values with the greater good, brainstorm about ways to help, and plan ahead. The book also includes practical advice about how to get the most out of your charity dollars, and an appendix of “198 Ways to Act” (excerpted from Gene Sharp’s The Politics of Nonviolent Action) will provide plenty of fodder for conversation between burgeoning activists. The optimistic approach is refreshing, but in an attempt to reach a wide audience, Flintoff tends to water down his prescriptions and advice. Still, as a first push toward directing one’s energies outward, this is an encouraging primer. Photos. Agent: Macmillan (U.K.). (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“Self-Help Books For the Rest of Us.”—The New York Times

“In an age of moral and practical confusions, the self-help book is crying out to be redesigned and rehabilitated. The School of Life announces a rebirth with a series that examines the great issues of life, including money, sanity, work, technology, and the desire to alter the world for the better.”—Alain de Botton, The School of Life Series Editor

“The School of Life offers radical ways to help us raid the treasure trove of human knowledge.”—The Independent on Sunday (London)

Praise for Comp: A Survivor's Tale

“Flintoff has not written a history, though he has woven the essential historical facts into his nasrrative. He has done something far more rewarding and entertaining.”—The Times Literary Supplement (London)

“Entertaining and thoughtful...Flintoff is the gentlest of moralists.”—Financial Times (London)

“Manages to be both supremely entertaining and an invaluable social document.”—Telegraph (London)

Kirkus Reviews
The latest title in the publisher's School of Life series aims to be a guide to social and cultural change. Any guidebook with a title like How to Change the World that is also sized in such a way that it could fit comfortably in a handbag is going to need to make some assumptions about what needs changing and why. Without space to devote to arguing why things should change in certain ways, the remaining text needs to present a "how" that can be adapted for different aims. Journalist Flintoff (Sew Your Own: Man Finds Happiness and Meaning of Life--Making Clothes, 2010, etc.) largely succeeds in that his ideas are divorced from particular ideological goals, for the most part. In general, the author focuses on finding ways to make changes on a personal level--approaches to "being the change you want to see in the world." The strongest writing comes when Flintoff hews to the fine line between starry-eyed idealism and pragmatic, here's-the-five-steps-to-take detailing. His chapter on identifying values is especially thoughtful, providing clear direction on discovering the intersections between which values we derive from the culture and which we can find from within. Occasionally, the author veers over the line into dreaminess; much is made of engaging with the community around you, engaging with neighbors, which suggests an openness to engagement that may not be reciprocated on the other side. All too often, this brand of idealism in activism can come across as naïve, but Flintoff's writing grounds that idealism in the idea that changing "the world" can have multiple meanings, each of them equally important. A credible book to inspire even the most cynical among us.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250030672
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 4/23/2013
  • Series: School of Life Series
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 402,544
  • Product dimensions: 4.60 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

John-Paul Flintoff is an author, broadcaster and journalist. He has written several highly praised books, including Sew Your Own, in which he investigated sweat shops and global resource shortages. As a writer with the Financial Times and The Sunday Times, Flintoff has changed government policy and raised money for many good causes. He lives in London.

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