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This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

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An inspiring collection of the personal philosophies of a group of remarkable men and women

Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, This I Believe features eighty essayists-from the famous to the unknown-completing the thought that begins the book's title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share them with others.

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This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

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Overview

An inspiring collection of the personal philosophies of a group of remarkable men and women

Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, This I Believe features eighty essayists-from the famous to the unknown-completing the thought that begins the book's title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share them with others.

Featuring a well-known list of contributors-including Isabel Allende, Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, William F. Buckley Jr., Penn Jillette, Bill Gates, and John Updike-the collection also contains essays by a Brooklyn lawyer; a part-time hospital clerk from Rehoboth, Massachusetts; a woman who sells Yellow Pages advertising in Fort Worth, Texas; and a man who serves on the state of Rhode Island's parole board.

The result is a stirring and provocative trip inside the minds and hearts of a diverse group of people whose beliefs-and the incredibly varied ways in which they choose to express them-reveal the American spirit at its best.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In this thought-provoking book, which was based on an NPR series, 80 essayists use the three little title words as a jumping-off point to a discussion of their deepest personal beliefs. The list of contributors includes Colin Powell, Isabel Allende, Bill Gates, John Updike, William F. Buckley Jr., Gloria Steinem, and Penn Jillette; but it also includes relatively unknown people with everyday jobs. A stirring cross-section of beliefs.
Publishers Weekly

Allison and Gediman's newest omnibus highlights 75 more essays from the archives of the successful NPR program, a contemporary version of Edward Murrow's classic radio show. Culled from writers both legendary and previously unfamiliar, each essayist presents what he or she believes in 500 words. From Robin Baudier's tract on "Strange Blessings," detailing her experience living in her parents' FEMA trailer after the devastation of Katrina, to Michelle Gardner-Quinn's credo for "upholding reverence for all life" (Quinn was tragically murdered after completing this essay) to Kim Phuc's essay on "Forgiveness," borne of her experience as that "girl in the picture" running naked, napalm-burnt on a road near Saigon, each micro-essay stuns with its singular beauty, lucidity and humility. Icons like Helen Prejean, Studs Terkel and Elie Wiesel find estimable company in heretofore unknown writers who distill their individual truths with affecting sincerity and admirable aptitude. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
In an age of disinformation, spin, and lies, NPR's This I Believe comes as a source of refreshment and useful disquiet. NPR revived this 1950s radio series quite recently, and this collection (not complete at the time of review) draws transcripts from both the original series and its newer version, including some remarkable statements from the likes of dancer/choreographer Martha Graham, autistic academic Temple Grandin, writer and physicist Alan Lightman, novelist and social critic Thomas Mann, economic historian Arnold Toynbee, and feminist writer Rebecca West. Astonishing to hear and astonishing to read and reread, this work is a wonderful addition to any library. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/06.] Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"To hold this range of beliefs in the palm of your hand is as fine, as grounding, as it was hearing them first on the radio. Heartfelt, deeply cherished beliefs, doctrines for living (yet none of them doctrinaire). Ideas and ideals that nourish. You can see it in their faces, in the photos in this book. And read it in their words. I'm so proud that NPR helped carry this Edward R. Murrow tradition into a new century. And so glad to have it in print, to encounter again and again."—Susan Stamberg, special correspondent, National Public Radio

"My father, Edward R. Murrow, said that "fresh ideas" from others helped him confront his own challenges. This superb collection of thought-provoking This I Believe essays, both from the new program heard on NPR and from the original 1950s series, provides fresh ideas for all of us!"—Casey Murrow, Elementary education publisher

"Reading this gives me a feeling about this country I rarely get: a very visceral sense of all the different kinds of people who are living together here, with crazily different backgrounds and experiences and dreams. Like a Norman Rockwell painting where all the people happen to be real people, and all the stories are true. It makes me feel hopeful about America, reading this. Hopeful in a way that's in short supply lately."—Ira Glass, Producer and Host of This American Life

"Now, as then, when Edward R. Murrow introduced the idea of This I Believe, this forward-thinking compilation serves as a wonderful antidote to the cynicism of the age."—Daniel Schorr, Senior News Analyst, NPR, and former colleague of Edward R. Murrow

Library Journal
08/01/2014
Collected from the radio show of the same name, this anthology features personal statements from a variety of people in the present day and from the 1950s, when the show first aired. Famous speakers such as Eleanor Roosevelt are recorded next to everyday Americans in the 80 pieces selected, each of which receives a short introduction. An outstanding collection of bite-sized wisdom.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781427203267
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Publication date: 10/30/2007
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 7.18 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

An inspiring collection of the personal philosophies of a group of remarkable men and women

Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, This I Believe features eighty essayists-from the famous to the unknown-completing the thought that begins the book's title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share them with others.

Featuring a well-known list of contributors-including Isabel Allende, Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, William F. Buckley Jr., Penn Jillette, Bill Gates, and John Updike-the collection also contains essays by a Brooklyn lawyer; a part-time hospital clerk from Rehoboth, Massachusetts; a woman who sells Yellow Pages advertising in Fort Worth, Texas; and a man who serves on the state of Rhode Island's parole board.

The result is a stirring and provocative trip inside the minds and hearts of a diverse group of people whose beliefs-and the incredibly varied ways in which they choose to express them-reveal the American spirit at its best.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt



This I Believe




By


Henry Holt and Co.



ISBN: 0805080872


Foreword
 
Studs Terkel
 
"At a time when the tide runs toward a sure conformity, when dissent is often confused with subversion, when a man's belief may be subject to investigation as well as his actions . . ."
 
It has the ring of a 2006 mayday call of distress, yet it was written in 1952. Ed Murrow, introducing an assemblage of voices in the volume This I Believe, sounded a claxon.
 
It is an old story yet ever-contemporary. In 1791, Tom Paine, the most eloquent visionary of the American Revo-lution, sounded off:
 
Freedom has been hunted around the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear made man afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth is that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing . . . In such a situation, man becomes what he ought to be. He sees his species not with the inhuman idea of a natural enemy, but as kindred . . .
 
It is the pursuit of this truth that appears to be the common tenor of all the voices you hear in this new volume.
 
We need not dwell on the old question: What is truth? What you see with your own eyes may differ from the received official truth. So old Pilate had only one decision to make: find the man guilty or he, the judge, will be sent back to the boondocks. Pilate did what any well-behaved hack would do. Though he had his hands scrubbed and rub-a-dub-dubbed with Ivory soap, 99.44%pure, he could not erase the awful truth of the dirt on his hands. Though Pilate's wife pleaded for a show of mercy, he made an objective decision.
 
In our time, James Cameron, the nonpareil of British journalism, dealt with the matter in his own way. "I cannot remember how often I've been challenged for disregarding the fundamental tenet of honest journalism, which is objectivity."
 
His bearing witness in North Vietnam during that war convinced him, despite all official Washington arguments to the contrary, that North Vietnam was inhabited by human beings. He was condemned for being non-objective and having a point of view. Cameron confesses, "I may not have always been satisfactorily balanced; I always tended to argue that objectivity was of less importance than the truth."
 
Errol Morris, film documentarian, who appears in this book, shares the obstinancy of Cameron: "Truth is not relative. . . . It may be elusive or hidden. People may wish to disregard it. But there is such a thing as truth." What really possesses Morris is the pursuit of the truth: "Trying to figure out what has really happened, trying to figure out how things really are."
 
The chase is what it's all about. The quarry is, as always, the truth.
 
On a small patch of Sag Harbor dirt is a simple stone easily passed by. Nelson Algren is buried there and his epitaph is simple: "The journey is all."
 
Andrew Sullivan, editor of The New Republic, who appears in this volume, has a similar vision. He and Algren may have differed considerably in their political views, yet here, as to fundamental belief, they were as one. "I believe in the pursuit of happiness. Not its attainment, nor its final definition, but its pursuit."
 
I'd be remiss with no mention of Helen Keller, whose vision we saw and whose voice we heard fifty years ago, a deaf, dumb, and blind child. It was her sense of wonder and her pursuit of truth which she saw much more clearly than sighted people, and heard much more clearly than hearing folk. They were voices in need throughout the world she heard so vividly. Above all it was her faith that the human being was better than his/her behavior.
 
What I believe is a compote of these ingredients. Yes I do have a point of view which I express much too frequently, I suspect. And yet there's always that uncertainty. In all my adventures among hundreds of Americans I have discovered that the rule of thumb does not work. I've been astonished too often by those I've visited: ordinary Americans, who at times, are extraordinary in their insights and dreams.
 
I find the labels "liberal" and "conservative" of little meaning. Our language has become perverted along with the thoughts of many of us.
 
"Liberal" according to any dictionary is defined as the freedom to speak out, no matter what the official word may be, and the right to defend all others who speak out whether or not they agree with you. "Conservative" is the word I've always associated with conserving our environment from pollution, ensuring that our water is potable and our grass green. So I declare myself a radical conservative. Radical, as in getting to the root of things. Pasteur was a radical. Semmelweiss was a radical. "Wash your hands," he declared to doctors and nurses. He may have wound up in a nuthouse, but he pursued the truth, found it, and saved untold millions of lives. I am a conservative in that I'm out to conserve the blue of the sky, the freshness of the air of which we have less and less, the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and whatever semblance of sanity we may have left. As for faith, I've always called myself an agnostic. Were Ambrose Bierce alive today, he would no doubt have added to his Devil's Dictionary: "An agnostic is a cowardly atheist." Perhaps. But perhaps I do believe there is a God deposited in each of us ever since the Big Bang.
 
I secretly envy those who believe in the hereafter and with it the idea that they may once again meet dear ones. They cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there is such a place. Neither can I disprove it. I cannot find the bookmaker willing to take my bet on it. How will one who guesses right be able to collect his winnings? So speaking on behalf of the bookies of the world, all bets are off.
 
Maybe the poet Keats was right after all in the "Ode on a Grecian Urn." He envied the fortunate youth who is forever chasing his love, never quite catching her. The pursuit is all.
 
And yet there is something which I believe with no uncertainty. There is something we can do while we're alive and breathing on this planet. It is to become an activist in this pursuit of a world in which it would be easier for people to behave decently. (I am paraphrasing Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement.)
 
Being an activist is self-explanatory: you act; you take part in something outside yourself. You join with others, who may astonish you in thinking precisely as you do on the subjects, say, of war, civil liberties, human rights.
 
My belief came into being during the most traumatic moment in American history, the Great Depression of the 1930s. I remember seeing pots and pans and bedsteads and mattresses on the sidewalks. A family had just been evicted and there was an individual cry of despair, multiplied by millions. But that community had a number of people on that very block, electricians and plumbers and carpenters, who appeared that very evening, and moved the household goods back into the flat where they had been. They turned on the gas, they fixed the plumbing. It was a community in action accomplishing something.
 
Albert Einstein once observed that westerners have a feeling the individual loses his freedom if he joins, say, a union or any group. Precisely the opposite is the case. Once you join others, even though at first your mission fails, you become a different person, a much stronger one. You feel that you really count, you discover your strength as an individual because you have along the way discovered others share in what you believe, you are not alone; and thus a community is formed. I am paraphrasing Einstein. I love to do that; nobody dares contradict me.
 
So, my credo consists of the pursuit and the act. One without the other is self-indulgence. This I believe.
 
Copyright 2006 by This I Believe, Inc. All rights reserved.


Continues...




Excerpted from This I Believe
by
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


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Table of Contents

Foreword

Studs Terkel

Introduction

Jay Allison

Be Cool to the Pizza Dude

Sarah Adams

Leaving Identity Issues to Other Folks

Phyllis Allen

In Giving I Connect with Others

Isabel Allende

Remembering All the Boys

Elvia Bautista

The Mountain Disappears

Leonard Bernstein

How Is It Possible to Believe in God?

William F. Buckley, Jr.

The Fellowship of the World

Niven Busch

There is No Job More Important than Parenting

Benjamin Carson

A Journey toward Acceptance and Love

Greg Chapman

A Shared Moment of Trust

Warren Christopher

The Hardest Work You Will Ever Do

Mary Cook

Good Can Be as Communicable as Evil

Norman Corwin

A Daily Walk Just to Listen

Susan Cosio

The Elusive Yet Holy Core

Kathy Dahlen

My Father's Evening Star

William O. Douglas

An Honest Doubter

Have I Learned Anything Important Since I Was Sixteen?

Elizabeth Deutsch Earle

An Ideal of Service to Our Fellow Man

Albert Einstein

The Power and Mystery of Naming Things

Eve Ensler

A Goal of Service to Humankind

Anthony Fauci

The God Who Embraced Me

John W. Fountain

Unleashing the Power of Creativity

Bill Gates

The People Who Love You When No One Else Will

Cecile Gilmer

The Willingness to Work for Solutions

Newt Gingrich

The Connection between Strangers

Miles Goodwin

An Athlete of God

Martha Graham

Seeing in Beautiful, Precise Pictures

Temple Grandin

Disrupting My Comfort Zone

Brian Grazer

Science Nourishes the Mind and the Soul

Brian Greene

In Praise of the "Wobblies"

Ted Gup

The Power of Presence

Debbie Hall

A Grown-Up Barbie

Jane Hamill

Happy Talk

Oscar Hammerstein II

Natural Links in a Long Chain of Being

Victor Hanson

Talking with the Sun

Joy Harjo

A Morning Prayer in a Little Church

Helen Hayes

Our Noble, Essential Decency

Robert A. Heinlein

A New Birth of Freedom

Maximilian Hodder

The Benefits of Restlessness and Jagged Edges

Kay Redfield Jamison

There Is No God

Penn Jillette

A Duty to Heal

Pius Kamau

Living Life with "Grace and Elegant Treeness"

Ruth Kamps

The Light of a Brighter Day

Helen Keller

The Bright Lights of Freedom

Harold Hongju Koh

The Power of Love to Transform and Heal

Jackie Lantry

The Power of Mysteries

Alan Lightman

Life Grows in the Soil of Time

Thomas Mann

Why I Close My Restaurant

George Mardikian

The Virtues of the Quiet Hero

John McCain

The Joy and Enthusiasm of Reading

Rick Moody

There Is Such a Thing as Truth

Errol Morris

The Rule of Law

Michael Mullane

Getting Angry Can Be a Good Thing

Cecilia Muñoz

Mysterious Connection That Link Us Together

Azar Nafisi

The Making of Poems

Gregory Orr

We Are Each Other's Business

Eboo Patel

The 50-Percent Theory of Life

Steve Porter

The America I Believe In

Colin Powell

The Real Consequences of Justice

Frederic Reamer

There Is More to Life than My Life

Jamaica Ritcher

Tomorrow Will Be a Better Day

Josh Rittenberg

Free Minds and Hearts at Work

Jackie Robinson

Growth That Starts from Thinking

Eleanor Roosevelt

The Artistry in Hidden Talents

Mel Rusnov

My Fellow Worms

Carl Sandburg

When Children Are Wanted

Margaret Sanger

Jazz Is the Sound of God Laughing

Colleen Shaddox

There Is No Such Thing as Too Much Barbecue

Jason Sheehan

The People Have Spoken

Mark Shields

Everything Potent Is Dangerous

Wallace Stegner

A Balance between Nature and Nurture

Gloria Steinem

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Andrew Sullivan

Always Go to the Funeral

Deirdre Sullivan

Finding Prosperity by Feeding Monkeys

Harold Taw

I Agree with a Pagan

Arnold Toynbee

Testing the Limits of What I Know and Feel

John Updike

How Do You Believe in a Mystery?

Loudon Wainwright III

Creative Solutions to Life's Challenges

Frank X Walker

Goodness Doesn't Just Happen

Rebecca West

When Ordinary People Achieve Extraordinary Things

Jody Williams

Afterword: The History of This I Believe: The Power of an Idea

Dan Gediman

Appendix A: Introduction to the 1950s This I Believe Radio Series

Edward R. Murrow

Appendix B: How to Write Your Own This I Believe Essay

Appendix C: How to Use This I Believe in Your Community

Acknowledgments

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Reading Group Guide

Reading and Understanding the Book

1. Warren Christopher’s essay refers to different ways in which we all rely on one another. Describe these ways.

2. Comparing the two personal credos written by Elizabeth Deutsch Earle, one composed when she was a teenager and the other when she was a grandmother, what would you say she has held on to over the years, in terms of her beliefs? And what has she let go of?

3. Anthony Fauci cites “three guiding principles that anchor [his] life.” A very bright and driven person, Fauci takes these principles seriously. What are they? How do they influence his work as well as his day-to-day living?

4. Why does Bill Gates call himself an “optimist”? What’s his rationale for taking this outlook?

5. The artful essay by dancer Martha Graham ends with an image of an acrobat walking on a high wire. Why, as Graham asserts, is this acrobat smiling? What lesson(s) does she think we should draw from this?

6. Temple Grandin tells us she believes in “doing practical things [to] make the world a better place.” How is Grandin, as a high-functioning individual with autism, especially equipped to do this?

7. “I don’t believe anyone can enjoy living in this world,” writes Oscar Hammerstein II, “unless he can accept its imperfection.” Why does enjoyment rely on such acceptance? What about the old saying that ignorance is bliss? What is Hammerstein telling us about how people should best weather the “storm of life”?

8. The essay by Helen Keller employs a broadly inclusive understanding of “faith.” Describe this understanding; try to explain all that it covers. How do you think Keller’s own life and background influenced this understanding?

9. What’s the difference, as memorably put by Harold Hongju Koh’s father, between democracy and dictatorship?

10. Remembering a high-school teacher, Rick Moody writes: “What Mr. Buxton didn’t tell me was what the play meant.” Why is this point so important or special to Moody? And how does it relate to his core beliefs?

11. Azar Nafisi says her notion of “empathy” has long been connected to the character of Huck Finn, specifically Huck’s relationship with Jim, the runaway slave in Twain’s great novel. Why does Nafisi make this connection?

12. “This is the area where I found imperfection,” writes Jackie Robinson, “and where I was best able to fight.” What is the “area” he refers to? And how does it echo his claim that “society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it”?

13. How does Eleanor Roosevelt think you can truly achieve “what you were put here to do”? And why does she call herself “pretty much of a fatalist”?

14. What does Mark Shields like or admire about politicians? Why does he, in fact, believe in them? What makes politicians special? What sets them apart? And how can politics itself benefit “the powerful” as well as “the poor”?

Discussion Questions

1. Beliefs can change, and they often do. “A person believes various things at various times,” observes John Updike toward the end of this book, “even on the same day.” And early in the volume, Phyllis Allen presents a clever and telling essay that chronicles her life thus far as a kind of timeline of what she’s believed with each new decade. Write an essay, poem, or short story that describes two or three beliefs of your own that have changed over time.

2. Activism—actively taking a stand or supporting a cause— is a major theme here. Many of our essayists thus believe wholeheartedly in “taking action.” Which of their writings moved or even inspired you on this point?

3. More than a few of these essays make careful distinctions between religious belief and spiritual belief, between institutional dogma and individual doctrine. How would you make such distinctions—given what you have read here, and given your own viewpoints? Discuss the various ideas of “faith” that appear throughout these pages.

4. Collecting the credos of renowned thinkers and artists as well as ordinary lawyers and social workers, celebrated activists and performers as well as working-class engineers and salespeople, famous politicians as well as everyday parents, This I Believe inevitably embraces the dual American blessings of freedom and diversity. Either as a class or in smaller groups, talk with other students about how and why this book is a refl ection of this nation in particular.

5. Certain statements here are in support of things that might seem surprising—even offbeat—as things that one would believe in, such as jazz, Barbie, barbecue, generously tipping the pizza-delivery man, feeding monkeys on one’s birthday, etc. If you had to pick an out-of-the-ordinary belief in this vein, what would it be? And why?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Spellbinding, heartwarming, practical, inspiring.

    Listening to everyday people - from celebrities to single mothers and from teens to octogenarians - talk about their core beliefs, the things that see them through and guide their lives, is comforting. Yes, comforting in a time when the media would have us think that we're all a bunch of shallow, gimme-gimme, mindless twits with no substance (or all crooked with no scruples). Well, I'll take a stab at generalization, too, and guarantee that there are very few people who will not be inspired to greater introspection after having a first listen to this audio book. And, I further guarantee that listening to this WITH someone else will open up lines of communication that had been invisible. If a folk-music-lovin' 65 year old granny and a hard-core-metal-guitar-shredding 18 year old genius can connect on a deep philosophical level about homelessness and faithfulness and the power of a hug - you can use this to bridge any gap. In paperback or on audio book, these are powerful, very powerful.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2008

    WOW

    What a wonderful book to give as a present, even for non-readers. A Book of small composed positive beliefs. A quick read to jump start your day.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 30, 2009

    Fun and very easy to read

    The book gave a broad range of insights into what many different people from various walks of life, and from different times believe in. The book revitalizes my belief in people.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Inspiring Thoughts from the Past, Present and Future

    This is a wonderful book full of thematic essays on topics fundamental to the human condition. Many essays are moving, profound or just beautiful. It's not often a book can be chock full of inspiring words and be captivating at the same time. But this one is...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2007

    Great for the New Year!

    I started to feel reflective with the new year coming and reading this book provided the spark to get the ball rolling. It suprised me to notice that the essays were timeless. It didn't matter that some of them were written in the 50's or if they were written in 2006. If you like people watching this will give you a nice snap shot of our times

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2014

    ~ Jayclan Elder's Den ~

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