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Posted October 12, 2011
I'm always interested in hearing good news, but rarely expect positive reporting about the state of the world because I see so much in the television broadcast that discourages me. In fact, I approached this book with a bit of cynicism. But Dr. Wright offers an encouraging look at the status of the world's economy, education, relations, health, crime, freedom, faith and environment, backed up by statistics. He also proves that if we compare our lives today with previous years, we have a lot to be thankful for. I have been amazed at all the truths I would never have known if not for this book. The first two chapters shift my perceptions, as I realize how much of what I "know" about the state of our world is based upon what is reported by the media for a drama-hungry audience. I also see how my perception of "the good old days" (all the years before I was born) is skewed and how much better today's world is in many ways. Some positive statistics about education and intelligence are an example of one pleasant surprise. Test scores are holding steady or increasing for the years since the early 1970's when the U.S. started testing students, and students are taking more advanced math classes than their parents took. Education levels have risen around the world significantly since the turn of the century, and class sizes have actually decreased over time, despite that fact that more people attend school. Would you believe it if someone told you that our leisure time has increased? It has, but our technology makes us feel busier than ever. Crime rates have gone down-the data is available to prove it-and there is a worldwide increase in freedom. These and other facts are a balm to our news-shy souls. I am not a history buff, and rarely study the economic history of any country, but I have learned a lot of it from these pages. The author, a professor of sociology, also gives examples of Christians making a difference in each issue he discusses. I appreciate his plain writing, his objectivity and his sense of humor. In a book so full of data and graphs, it would be easy for a reader to get overwhelmed and put it down. But the truths revealed are so interesting, it doesn't get dry. In places, however, the text was so detailed that it was far more than I needed, so I scanned it until a new topic was introduced. I valued the graphs, which were simple to understand and instantly gave a visual perception of the excellent research. The author's goal is to separate fact and fiction, and he does that well, so that we can recognize and celebrate the genuine progress and successes on this earth. I recommend this book. It is worth reading for an accurate assessment of the state of the world, especially our country, and an appreciation of how far we've gone in the past century. [Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.]Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 1, 2011
Bradley R. E. Wright in his new book, "Upside" published by Bethany House Publishers gives us Surprising Good News About the State of Our World.
The news channels, and there are a few of them now, have to keep providing news 24 hours a day. Have you ever noticed when nothing terrible happens they consider this to be a slow news day? No earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, wars, scandals, terrorist attacks or serial killers and they have nothing to talk about. Seems incomprehensible doesn't it? It would seem that if there is nothing bad to talk about talk about all the good that is being done in the world. Not only will that fill up lots of time but it would make the viewers feel better as well. However, this is not to be.
The good news is Bradley R. E. Wright has written Upside" shines a light on many things that are improving that no one seems to want to talk about. Within these pages Dr. Wright, a sociologist, looks at statistics and tries to put them into the proper perspective. He looks at the data on a variety of topics: "Are we worse off financially than we used to be?", "Are we dumber than we used to be?", "Are we sicker than we used to be?", "Are we stressed and unhappy?", "What about marriage and families?", "What about the environment?".
I think it is high time we had a book that gives us a positive picture of what is going on in our world. By redirecting our focus Dr. Bradley helps to change our outlook from doom and gloom to a more balanced approach. Is there still work to be done? Yes, absolutely. That is why the last chapter is, "The Counting of Blessings". Everyone should read "Upside". I recommend this book highly.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted August 25, 2011
Upside, by Bradley R.E. Wright, PhD is an optimistic book, that attempts to dispell the pessimism that many sketptics and doomsday predictions warn concerning timely issues conccerning the economy, morals, environment, health and politics. Nevertheless I found this book not to be representative of the true state of many struggling Americans. Basically, wright's pointsof view seemed to be somewhat biased in representing the upper middle class socio- economic American sector, to the exclusion of the struggling, ever growing middle and lower socio- economic american classes. For example, with unemployment- the statistic of 9.9 - 10% unemployment rate is totally innaccurate! It does not reflect those individuals, who in despair, have completely given up the job search and dropped out of the job force. A better indicator would be to use the employed to unemployed job ratio which indicates that about 40% and even more Americans aged 16 and over currently have no job!!!! Nor does his statistics or considerations include the under employed- those struggling to raise a family on minimum wage jobs and part time jobs that they must settle on do to a lack of other options. Furthermore, because these individuals have part time jobs or low paying jobs, they do not qualify for govenment assistance, yet they can not afford private health insurance so they must go without health insurance. To add further insult to injury is the injustice that these struggling mid- low class workers must pay for welfare recipients to get free healthcare while they go without!.
Therefore when he does discuss the upper middle to the wealthy class, of course their health is better! Of course there is good news for those with suffiecient financial resources!! But as far as the silent majority- who can not affort preventative care, screening or maintanence medications- these are the ones with undiagnosed heart disease, diabetes and cancer- and these are the ones that suddenly drop dead at age 49 because they coult not afford health care! There is no good news for these individuals. Of course, there is no doubt some Americans are prospering, but there still is a large majority that isn't. For America to ignore this and pat itself on the back is just simply to ignore the problem and it isn't right. This self serving book is sure to make those wealthy, carefree Americans in happy marriages to feel less guilt and to feel justified. But there is a whole world out there that suffers and goes without its basic neccesities. Sure, I agree wiuth Wright that the Earth most likely won't be detroyed by radiation due to a damaged ozone layer, but beyond that I feel his book is nothing more than false reassurance to make the upper classes feel justified. As a blogger I recieved this book from Bethany House publishers for the purpose of writing this review.
Posted August 3, 2011
Stuffing together a multitude of polls and statistics, Upside seeks to give a fairly un-baised view of whether or not various aspects of American culture have improved or gotten worse through the years. Covers subjects such as income, prices, education, and more, giving stats and polls to backup conclusions.
My Thoughts & Rating:
I was not really too thrilled with this book. Honestly, I had been hoping that this book would have a theme similar to that of the movie The Undercurrent, showing how Christians were doing great things for God's kingdom. Although there are blurbs here and there in the book which give little facts about Christians, this was not the main focus of the book.
Also, I have to admit that I don't have the same perspective as the author on many issues. He seems to think that women working outside of the home is a good thing - I disagree. He views larger incomes as meaning that lifestyles have improved, but while material goods and ease may have increased in peoples lives, the family is falling apart.
Honestly, I would have spent my time better and come away more encouraged if I had read a book on Post-millennialism, rather than reading this one.
My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars.
I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House publishers for the this review. I was not obligated to write a either a positive or negative review, just an honest one.
Posted August 1, 2011
Wright is known for his surveys and analytical statistics. His last book on Christians and their--get this--altruistic tendencies was a big hit (I also reviewed his "Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You've Been Told"). Anyway, like his other book, this is more of a helpful reference for when you want to look something up. Relationships, the environment, finances, you name it. While the writing is well, and the comments are fun (there is a section in each chapter where Wright documents good things that Christians are doing to make the world a better place), this does not read like a novel unless you are a history buff that is infatuated with numbers and charts.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 26, 2011
This book by a sociologist poses the question, "what if the doomsayers have it all wrong?" If we go by what we hear everyday on the news, it is easy to become paralyzed with fear. Wright points to studies that show the affairs of the world aren't as bad as we're being led to believe by the media and politicians. For example, extreme poverty has been cut in half since the 1980's in developing countries, life expectancy has doubled around the world over the last 100 years, literacy rates have soared from 25% to over 80% over the same period, and air pollution has actually improved in many major U.S. cities, and the lists goes on.
The author agrees that not everything is all rosy, as is the case with the rise in obesity, health care costs, and global warming, but through his findings that are based on facts and not simply optimism the reader is left with hope that some things really are better and on a positive track. He encourages us to look for good news, to become activists in changing what isn't good, and to simply not get drawn into the downward spiral of doom and gloom perpetuated by the media (because bad news sells better than good news).
I did like this book. I was wary at first, thinking it might take on a Pollyanna tone but it doesn't. Wright simply points out with facts that a lot of things have improved and we really are better off today than we were 25, 50, or 100 years ago. I like that he is also realistic about what isn't going well but that those things aren't beyond changing so there is still hope. Some of the topics covered include the environment, economics, health, poverty and hunger, families and marriage, crime, and war.
I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher but the opinion of it is my own and was not solicited, nor was a positive review required.