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4.3 out of 5 stars11
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 4 March 2008
I have enjoyed previous books by Fred Pearce, especially "When the rivers run dry". This book is a mish mash affair, the author dotting around the world trying to find the background to where all that makes up his "stuff" comes from. Some of the stories are exteremely thought provoking - watch out for an impending world banana shortage by the way - and I learnt a lot about eco related issues that I hadn't seen anywhere else, but the book itself somehow left me a bit cold. It appears to be a hurriedly put together collection of shorter pieces - at one stage the same bits of information are repeated on consecutive pages, and the M & S brand is Blue Harbour, not Blue Horizon. These are minor quibbles but serve to undermine the message being put across. I am not sure if this is meant to be a travel book, a collection of political essays or an anti-capitalist rant. No it's definitely not a rant, because Mr Pearce comes across as a genuinely likeable sort of bloke with very similar tastes as mine in matters beer and whisky related! And therein perhaps lies the problem. A book that flits from discussions on whisky production, to coffee production in Kenya, to the sweatshops of Bangladesh is almost by definition going to either be too detailed to read or to be a bit of a hit and miss affair.

The bottom line, and the message of this book is, be aware of all, and Mr Pearce means ALL, the costs that go into subsidising our western way of life and ask yourself if you are prepared to pay them, because ultimately what ever you/we pay, our children will be paying an awful lot more.
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on 16 October 2009
Yes, it's gimmicky that Fred Pearce tracks back the things in his house to the places they came from. But this book is incredibly compelling, easy to read, and has a lot of surprises even for someone like me who thought they knew a lot already about where things come from.

All of Pearce's books I've read are among my favorites, but I think this one is his most accessible, and will be most compelling to a general audience. Everyone who can afford this book is deeply embedded in the network of stuff flying around the planet to serve our needs and wants and whims, and should have some inkling of how things reach the store shelves, and what happens to our stuff when we're done with it and we toss it.
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on 19 May 2008
Mr Pearce's book is a well-researched work which documents not only the environmental costs of our current Western lifestyles but also the associated social (and to a lesser extent) economic costs. As the other reviewer point out, the author covers much ground; from writing about the prawn supply route from Bangladeshi prawn farms to English curry house tables, to a chapter about how metals vital to the operation of mobile phones are extracted from mines run by Congolese warlords. The book is certainly wide-ranging.

I'm not in a position to say if it is comprehensive but detailed it was! I enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about the stories behind our lifestyles and how, often and regrettably, cheap prices here harm those abroad. However, when considered overall the book is not overly gloomy just realistic. My only criticism is that while many problems are highlighted I felt that few practical solutions were suggested but to be fair to the author that is a feature of almost all similar books. And it is not doing any harm for there to be greater general awareness about the effects of our actions on others in less happy lands than England.

If you liked this you might well like Real England (Paul Kingsnorth) or Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth (a selection of different authors).
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on 7 October 2013
I am currently studying Environmental science which includes Life Cycles analysis and this book gives a really easy to read way to look at how what we do and have affects the environment.
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on 31 July 2013
This raises awareness for those of us who take for granted that what we are told is the truth - yes, but perhaps not the whole truth.
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on 1 January 2013
This book is really thought provoking, well researched and well worth a read if you are interested in "green" issues
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on 18 February 2014
Fred Pearce's books are well researched and put together very well. This is no exception. Read, take note and take action.
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on 26 November 2010
I can only recommend this book. Nicely structured with facts from writers' experience, each chapter concluded with a short story of an individual citizen of the world.

Lots of facts that you can think about, it triggers you to think about yourself and your personal behaviour. It triggers the questions about what to change, what to adapt, what to keep in order we can make our living on planet Earth sustainable.

After covering various fields of life, the reader get the sugar at the end - writer's wide personal thinking about the 'naked ape' - homo sapiens. The species that transformed the planet in last few ten thousand years as any other species couldn't. Where have we been? Where are we going? How to position ourselves in the historical time stream? Read it and think about it. It's worth.
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on 24 October 2015
Very good
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on 16 March 2009
This is not a book, but a roadmap on the future. This is clearly a key book for understanding ecology and the world around us, and how often thinks are not that they seem to be. A monumental book, and a landmark in my life.
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