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CLAY WATER BRICK

FINDING INSPIRATION FROM ENTREPRENEURS WHO DO THE MOST WITH THE LEAST

A charming account of how “to pursue opportunity and possibility where others see none.”

A memoir about how the Internet can help in the fight against poverty, from the co-founder of Kiva, “the world’s first personal microlending platform.”

Jackley chronicles how her life was transformed in the fall of 2003 when she heard Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, explain how he was enabling the poor in Bangladesh to free themselves from predatory lenders. Yunus' account of his work turned the notion of poverty “on its head,” and his speech provided the author with an exciting new method for thinking about the alleviation of poverty. She understood that the poor are “not weak, helpless people. These were people who were capable, tenacious and resourceful.” Jackley went on to co-found Kiva, which enables people to lend small amounts of money, as little as $25, to businesses in countries like Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. The author describes how she began to investigate and define a plan that would lead toward her goal. Hooking up with Brian Lehnen and his Village Enterprise Fund, she traveled to East Africa to survey the fund's grantees and their cultures. In the aftermath of that trip, Jackley designed Kiva to work with existing microlenders, lend money online, and maintain contact through regular updates. As reflected in its mission statement, the company promised “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.” Less than 10 people got the ball rolling, and their requests for loans were filmed and posted online. An email to friends helped raise funds, and the author’s venture quickly grew. Yunus' 2006 Nobel Prize created further interest, which accelerated growth. But it was not all success. In Uganda, they fought against fraudsters and the diversion of funds, and legal and regulatory obstacles doomed her next business, ProFounder. In addition to her own story, Jackley includes folksy business lessons learned from her borrowers—e.g., why the roosters should eat first.

A charming account of how “to pursue opportunity and possibility where others see none.”

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-679-64376-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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