January 2012 Book Club Selection

Guns, Germs, and Steel
Diamond, Jared: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (2005)

Our discussion took place: January 2012

Review: © Amazon: Jared Diamond presents the biologist’s answer: geography, demography, and ecological happenstance. Diamond evenhandedly reviews human history on every continent since the Ice Age at a rate that emphasizes only the broadest movements of peoples and ideas. Yet his survey is binocular: one eye has the rather distant vision of the evolutionary biologist, while the other eye–and his heart–belongs to the people of New Guinea, where he has done field work for more than 30 years.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Clackamas Co | Ft Vancouver | Multnomah Co | Washington Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

December 2011 Book Club Selection

Bury Me Standing
Fonseca, Isabel: Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey (1996)

Our discussion took place: December 2011

Review: © Library Journal: Traveling as a journalist, Fonseca stayed with a number of Gypsy families in Eastern Europe between 1991 and 1995. Through her experiences with them, study of the scholarship about them, and interviews with leading figures, she has produced a contemporary account of their status, incorporating details of their society, culture, and history. Her work portrays their commitment to tribal traditions and adherence to ritual and offers good insights, particularly into women’s lives. The author regards Gypsies as “an ancient scapegoat” who survive through their traditions and a collective denial of their mistreatment by outsiders, including the Germans during World War II. The author details the discrimination that has kept the Gypsies, now often called Roma, from development of an identity and acceptance by the international community.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Clackamas Co | Ft Vancouver | Multnomah Co | Washington Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

September 2010 Book Club Selection

Light at the Edge of the World
Davis, Wade: Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures (2001)

Our discussion took place: September 2010

Review: © Booklist: Ethnobotanist and anthropologist Davis, author of One River (1996) and Shadows in the Sun (1998), has traveled the world for 25 years, pen and camera in hand, to study the myriad ways indigenous people live in physical and spiritual intimacy with the natural world. Driven by curiosity and a profound respect for the “ethnosphere,” humanity’s diverse “thoughts, beliefs, myths, and intuitions,” Davis has dwelled among the people of the Arctic, the Amazon, Haiti, Kenya, Borneo, Australia, and Tibet, learning their modes of being, cosmologies, and botanical expertise. His quest has rendered him acutely sensitive to the connection between biodiversity and cultural diversity, and as he portrays in pellucid language and magnificent photographs healers, shamans, hunters, and men, women, and children adept at survival in the most demanding of wildernesses, he decries the rampant environmental destruction and globalization that are decimating indigenous cultures, thus depriving future generations of their knowledge, wisdom, and unique perspectives. Aesthetically powerful in both word and image, this essential volume opens readers’ eyes and imaginations to the wonders of the earth and humanity’s varied “insights into the very nature of existence,” a bounty and legacy we simply cannot do without.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Clackamas Co | Ft Vancouver | Multnomah Co | Washington Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble