• A Paradise Built in Hell

  • The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster
  • By: Rebecca Solnit
  • Narrated by: Emily Beresford
  • Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (321 ratings)

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A Paradise Built in Hell  By  cover art

A Paradise Built in Hell

By: Rebecca Solnit
Narrated by: Emily Beresford
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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 listeners say about A Paradise Built in Hell

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  • 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

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5 people found this helpful

  • 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.

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4 people found this helpful

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

Okay

Touching stories of triumph of the human spirit amidst disasters…. But mostly weird anarcho-fetishism commentary whose very own examples, in my view, don’t even really support the thesis.

Narration was fine, fake accents are always cringe-y to me… not sure if there’s a great solution to that.

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2 people found this helpful

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

AN idea whose time has (finally) come

After the mess that was 2020 and what we surely face in the years to come this book is a must read. I worked with Food Not Bombs during Occupy and while it wasn't a disaster, suddenly having 1000 people to feed three meals a day when we usually fed 50 1 meal a week certainly caused a community like Ms Solnit describes in this book. We wpuld do well to heed someone in the book's wiords “It's tempting to ask why if you fed your neighbors during the time of the earthquake and fire, you didn't do so before or after.”

Another world is waiting for us.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

good book, bad narration

The narrator's attempts at a Mexican accent are distractingly horrible. and offensive. Just don't do an accent. that would be better than a bad one.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • lm
  • 08-30-20

Necessary reading for now.

The first chapter is the gem. The takeaways about the role of beliefs, community and action are not only important but necessary in the Covid-19 reality.

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1 person found this helpful

  • 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.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Worst book I’ve read in years

Don’t be fooled by the “stories of people doing good in crisis” synopsis. This book is written by an anarchist author who blames those in power as having “elite panic”. The authors views on 9/11 and hurricane katrina go off on a rant of why George w bush was a horrible president instead of the good that the government and those in power did.

The author was so repetitive and used so many sweeping statements it was a grind to get through this book.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good

A good crash course on anarchism and how communities rise to the occasion during disasters. Spoiler: it’s not the disaster or the average person who cause the most damage and mayhem, but the elites who seek to maintain power during these times. My only criticism would be the narrator’s accents are a little…curious.

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

Enjoyed the book despite the narration

Really interesting book, with a lot of interesting insights, well researched; however, the narration was really hard to listen too. The use of accents, which were not well done, was inconsistent and and honestly sometimes offensive. Also some strange pronunciations, like “New OR-lay-ahns,” which I’ve never heard from anyone before. It was so distracting that had to stop listening and just read the rest of the book my library. Perhaps this narrator would be better for fiction.

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