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on 16 September 2003
Barbara Kingsolver’s latest collection of essays explore topics ranging from genetic engineering, world poverty through to adolescence and motherhood. The heavy subjects I felt were handled with great insight, and the lighter topics were great fun to read. Her inspired writing poses great food for thought. One or two of her essays were written in response to the events of September 11th and so are rather sombre and somewhat moving in tone. She breaks down political issues into plain English and even suggests possible resolutions to some of the worlds economic problems. I found many of the essays spiritually enlighting and very refreshing. Her exuberant philosophy stays with you long after the last page.
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on 4 May 2008
On the back of a speculative purchase, I am excited to say that Small Wonder is one of my favourite books and without a doubt, one that I will re-read time and again. I thoroughly enjoyed the insight into Kingsolver's perspective on timeless issues. Her opinions are thought-provoking and have led me to re-assess my own outlook on these global, as well as domestic and local, issues. Although the American and local issues are closer to home to Kingsolver than myself, they can very easily be transposed to any or at least many countries and communities in the world. I look forward to reading more by Kingsolver and would recommend everyone to read Small Wonder for pure enlightenment.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 July 2011
This is an engaging and well-written collection of essays, which range from a response to 9/11, through issues about motherhood, growing up, and the nature of families, to some luminous and inspirational pieces about conservation, genetically modified crops, pesticides, inequality, the world view of the US, and many more. Understandably, given the variety, the quality varies at times, and her 'patriotic' defence against her ultra-right wing critics, is perhaps overdone, especially from a UK standpoint.

Nevertheless, almost throughout, these are impassioned and well structured/argued pieces. For me, the jewels in this collection are where Kingsolver observes nature in action around here, whether it be her rapt description of a hummingbird building its nest outside her kitchen window, or her magical exploration of ancient Mayan ruins amid ancient protected forests in Mexico. She has a talent to make the everyday seem extraordinary, and vice versa, and a similar ability to move from the particular to the universal, so the reader can see the connection of things, and our responsibility as individuals, and as part of a worldwide brotherhood.

The issues she explores, and the causes she promotes, are dealt with in a saddened tone, quite without hectoring, and all the more powerful for it. This book is both a plea to step back from the blind exploitation of the world, and a celebration of its moving and incomparable beauty, and will linger long in the mind. Essential reading for all who care about the planet.
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Small Wonder, Barbara Kingsolver's second book of essays, was written after the events of 9/11, and touches on subjects as diverse as Terrorism, why the world doesn't like America, Genetic Modification, Teenagers, Mothers, and Self-Sustainability. While I may not have agreed with every single word of the essays, on the whole, I found Kingsolver's to be the Voice of Reason. As with her previous book of essays, High Tide in Tucson, there were some aspects that avid readers of Kingsolver's novels would have found reflected there. The essays are interesting and thought-provoking. The essay on Genetic Modification is particularly succinct. I would recommend this book, not just to Kingsolver fans, but to anyone who wants to read a reasonable point of view.
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on 27 March 2011
Barbara Kingsolver, a biology graduate and author, ends her first story in "Small Wonder" by writing, "I'd like to speak of small wonders and the possibility of taking heart."
Instead of having a dangerous nationalistic attitude by saying, "Hey, America's the best!" she shows her patriotism for her country by celebrating the good and shining light on the bad so that we as a country might heal.
With great insight and compassion Kingsolver gently helps us become more knowledgeable about our country's challenges and eloquently puts into words what many of us think and feel.
About conservation she says the U.S. citizen's compromise 5% of the world's people and uses a quarter of its fuel. The U.S. belongs to the 20% of the world's population that generates 75% of its pollution. Although we are the world's biggest contributors to global warming we walked away from ratifying the Kyoto agreement with the 178 other nations in 2001. Instead of eating local produce the average American's food travels 5 million miles by land, sea and air. Yet our country possesses the resources to bring solar technology, energy independence and sustainable living to our planet.
About the Government she says we live in the only rich country in the world that still tolerates poverty. In Japan, some European countries and Canada the state assumes the duty of providing all its citizens with good education, good health and shelter. These nations believe that homelessness simply isn't an option. The citizens pay higher taxes than the U.S. and so they have smaller homes, smaller cars, and appetites for consumer goods. They realize true peace is not the absence of tension but the presence of justice.
About wars she says, "The losers of all wars are largely the innocent." Seventy thousand people died in one minute when we bombed Japan in World War II. Then twice that many died slowly from the inside. "Vengeance does not subtract any numbers from the equation of murder, it only adds them." In the last 30 years our government has helped finance air assaults in Afghanistan, Chile, El Salvador, Grenada, Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Panama, the Sudan, Vietnam and Yugoslavia. Most wars and campaigns are to maintain our fossil-fuel dependency and our wasteful consumption of unnecessary things. We need to stop being a nation who solves problems by killing people and to "aspire to waste not and want less."
About global commerce she says we have a history of overtaking the autonomy and economy of small countries with our large corporations. For example, U.S. corporations and the World Trade Organization are placing pressure on farmers of other countries to buy genetically altered seeds that kill their own embryos. This means the farmers will always have to buy new seeds and pesticides from these companies. The pesticides and insecticides not only kill the unwanted bugs but also the beneficial insects and microbes that sustain, pollinate or cull different species. Kingsolver does not advocate the transfer of DNA genes between species to form genetically altered seeds. We need the checks and balances of genetic variability-it's nature's sole insurance policy. Without genetic variability entire crops are wiped out when environments change or crop strains succumb to disease. Our canceling the insurance policy of genetic variability is "a fist in the eye of God!" A few large American agricultural corporations control these genetically altered seeds and crops.
Kingsover's essays are parables for a gentler, kinder country and world.
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VINE VOICEon 31 October 2007
It's really hard to review this book because it started out wonderfully with two essays written by an American woman, espousing all the views I would like all Americans to have. A world understanding on the events leading up to 9/11 that does not just involve violence and retaliation.
After that I got bogged down in arguments for conservation and the termination of GM crops,which, while totally valid, were written in a heavy style that lost my interest.
Barbara Kinsolver shares every view on world events and conservation that I hold, I wish I could say I enjoyed the book, but in the end I had to give up, it was just too much of a trudge.
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on 2 February 2015
Thoroughly intelligent, well written musings on subjects we should all be thinking about.
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on 16 October 2015
Another great truthful book from Barbara Kingsolver, full of information.
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on 1 December 2014
Excellent. A arrived next day
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on 26 June 2015
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