A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster

by Rebecca Solnit

Most of us probably think of disasters as times when social order breaks down, when neighbors turn on each other, when nobody is safe. But that's just not what happens, claims Rebecca Solnit in her uplifting yet alarming book, A Paradise Built in Hell. She uses examples from the Halifax ship explosion to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina to demonstrate that great disasters are the moments when communities are most likely to come together to support each other effectively. On the other hand, she makes the case, it's the elites who are used to being in charge who tend to panic in a disaster and cause the greatest deprivation, violence, and displacement. After you read this, your plan to head to the hills might change into a determination to stay and rebuild.