Your audiobook is waiting…

A Paradise Built in Hell

The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster
Narrated by: Emily Beresford
Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
4 out of 5 stars (86 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

The most startling thing about disasters, according to award-winning author Rebecca Solnit, is not merely that so many people rise to the occasion, but that they do so with joy. That joy reveals an ordinarily unmet yearning for community, purposefulness, and meaningful work that disaster often provides. A Paradise Built in Hell is an investigation of the moments of altruism, resourcefulness, and generosity that arise amid disaster's grief and disruption and considers their implications for everyday life. It points to a new vision of what society could become - one that is less authoritarian and fearful, more collaborative and local.

©2009 Rebecca Solnit (P)2014 Audible Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The freshest, deepest, most optimistic account of human nature I've come across in years." (Bill McKibben)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    45
  • 4 Stars
    26
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    4

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    29
  • 4 Stars
    21
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    5

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    42
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    7
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    4
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Eye opening and thought provoking

The Author shares the truth about how most people respond to disasters, and it is not what you have been taught by media and government. The most good can be accomplished by trusting people to help each other.
I totally disagree with the whole climate change theory but other than that I found the book to be eye opening and thought provoking! Thanks.
I also appreciated the partial dramatic reading as well. Good job

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Vander
  • COTTAGE GROVE, OR, US
  • 06-28-19

Makes my list of top 3 worst reads ever.

This book is useless given the author doesn't understand evolutionary theory and whose whole thesis is more a masturbatory excorcise to show how much humanities she can cite while failing to ever get to what is really the underlying question: why did humans evolved altruism, and how and who we apply it to in practice? This is a very old debate in evolutionary science to do with inclusive fitness vs. group selection, something she never brings up. To do so would ultimately undermine the importance of her disaster focus; since altruism in humans evolved via natural selection, then of course it occurs during times of crises -that is the time when people die and are selected.

Thomas Henry Huxley was not at all a "social Darwinist" in the way portrayed in this book. He invented that term, but did not support in any way the type of application to human society of the term in the was she implies. Rather, he argued for societal progress, not individual dominance, and that our we must be aware that some of our baser natures, having arising from the fundamental amoral process of evolution. may need act . She is definitely in my shit book for attacking the very tempered in a moral society.

Solnit also claims capitalism is built on the idea of scarcity which isn't true, (beyond Malthus's population essays, perhaps. Which, despite human technology altering our survival curve, remain fundamentally true). Rather capitalism is built on the concept of the efficiency of trade. Free market eonomists nowadays make the opposite claim we can have unrestricted growth forever (which doesn't make any sense and also doesn't jive with Solnit's black-white political theory).

Performance: The reader for the audio book makes horrible accent the temps when quoting people that grated at me throughout the book.

All around, this is one of the worst books I have ever sat through.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Audio voice is awful

I liked the topic but the audible voice is awful. Simple can’t follow. Painful listen. Deleted.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Well-reported stories of basic human decency

When disaster strikes, people step up—mostly. Unfortunately, those who do not tend to be more powerful, and hence in a position to exacerbate the disaster for their victims. It’s compelling reading, by turns hopeful and maddening. One big objection regards the performer. She reads quotes in character, and her accents are embarrassingly bad. Oh well. Just as a bad experience may bring something good, I suppose a good experience can be tainted with the undesirable.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Really informative and uplifting

This book was so worth my time. I loved the positivity. How humans respond to each other during disaster is a very interesting topic.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • D
  • 03-07-18

Narration interferes with story

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Narration

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Learning about the criminal behavior of the authorities during the San Francisco earthquake and fires. Fascinating. Other stories were not as cohesive.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I hung in there until The narrator started speaking with an accent when reading quotes translated from the original Spanish. I found it very offensive and distracting as I wondered whether she would use an accent when quoting people from other non-English speaking nations - will she dare to use a Japanese or Chinese accent??!! (Answer- no, she only used a “Spanish” accent). I finally gave up on listening to the rest of the book since I couldn’t focus on the content.

Any additional comments?

Loved Solnics other writings, especially The Faraway Nearby.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

For school

It was a book I needed to “read” for a college course and it was amazing! Really enjoyed the book and following along with audible really helped out! Recommend!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The higher light.

Although a talented reader, the tone of the narrator's voice doesn't reach the higher light in this wonderful book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Powerful Reportive Style

What made the experience of listening to A Paradise Built in Hell the most enjoyable?

Under current of ineptness around disaster zones when people are most in need brought to light.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Gregory Monk
  • Gregory Monk
  • 07-19-17

Similar to Shock Doctrine but from another angle

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Paradise Built in Hell?

The descriptions of the aftermath of Katrina were shocking to a non-American and something I was surprised to hear. The basic failures of the government during this time was something that I was aware of but the details were grisly and something I won't forget, and nor should I.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The entirety of the book was filled with moving encounters of underrepresented examples of humans at their best in the worst possible scenarios. I certainly recommend it to those who have lost their faith in the people of the modern world.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for G. Hamilton
  • G. Hamilton
  • 01-03-19

Excellent

A thorough and well researched and insightful book with a biting critique of the New Orleans Disaster.