three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
29-July-Aug-2007
user_rating: 
0

The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

A-Deep EconomyExploring the economics behind global warming, Bill McKibben contradicts the popular assumption that countries should strive for economic growth. The unchecked pursuit of corporate profits and market share has led to widespread poverty and ecological crises because limitless growth isn’t sustainable in a world with limited resources. Prosperity hasn’t made us happy either: Our bigger houses and fancier cars generate longer work days and mountains of debt. Mental depression rates are highest in developed countries. The solution, suggests McKibben, is to think locally: Buy less. Visit a nearby farmers’ market. Build self-sustaining communities that produce and consume food and energy locally. And, finally, make conscious choices instead of "wandering through the world on autopilot."
Times Books. 272 pages. $25. ISBN: 0805076263

Oregonian 4.5 of 5 Stars
"To say it plainly: Deep Economy should be required reading for every economist and economics student in the developed world; for every elected official on the local, state and federal levels; and for everyone else as well. The book articulates the profound environmental and human costs caused by dominant and rutted economic behaviors while counterbalancing these sober realities with real-world examples of sane and successful ‘economies that are more local in scale.’" Joseph Bednarik

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Direct, common-sensical and unabashedly sincere, McKibben is the master of stark equations, striking analogies and resonant metaphors. … He is a writer on a mission, but he is not overbearing." Donna Seaman

Madison Capital Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Don’t be put off by the title, which I thought dry, dull and intellectually tedious: The title’s everything the book is not. McKibben’s prose is pithy and approachable." Sarah Streed

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"McKibben lives and teaches in Vermont, and his vision, for better and for worse, is suffused with a certain Vermontlichkeit. … He makes his case on anecdotal, environmental, moral and, as it were, aesthetic grounds." Lance Morrow

USA Today 3.5 of 5 Stars
"What makes McKibben’s book stand out is the completeness of his arguments and his real-world approach to solutions. He is just as comfortable calling on economist John Maynard Keynes as he is visiting neighborhood farmers." Russ Juskalian

Toronto Globe and Mail 3 of 5 Stars
"At times, McKibben stretches unsuccessfully, promoting social values with tenuous connections to economic or environmental issues. … His command of rhythm, language, phrasing and stories give life and possibility to ideas of sustainable change, moving beyond the shopworn doomsday rhetoric that makes environmental actions seem necessary but painful, toward examples and ideas that make change seem attainable and desirable." Mark L. Winston

San Francisco Chronicle 2 of 5 Stars
"McKibben, the author of The End of Nature, The Age of Missing Information, and Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, has essayed a manifesto attacking the global economy and proposing local steady-state economies as the solution to all that ails our planet and ourselves. … [He] adds to a long line of jeremiads decrying the corruptions of civilization and longing for a revolution that would be a restoration of a more simple way of life that, alas, may never have actually existed." Jon Christensen

Critical Summary

In offering straightforward solutions to the looming environmental crisis, Bill McKibben has marched directly into the middle of a heated debate. Critics’ personal beliefs and politics shaped their reviews, which described Deep Economy as, alternately, a "masterfully crafted, deeply thoughtful and mind-expanding treatise" (Los Angeles Times) and a "book-length sermon on what is wrong with the way we live" (San Francisco Chronicle). Some reviewers found McKibben’s solutions practical and the author refreshingly unpretentious, while others considered his vision utopian and his attitude self-righteous. However, they did agree that McKibben writes compellingly—with warmth, sincerity, and a sharp sense of humor. His resolute hope for the future will resound with readers no matter where their loyalties lie. But will it change any minds?