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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended!, June 1 2011
This review is from: Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything (Paperback)
In "Monoculture," FS Michaels methodically lays out how our societal worldview has been slowly overtaken by a single story - the story of economics. From education and the arts to how we eat, think, and play, Michaels asserts that we have been steeped in a single point of view in which value is reduced to what can be sold and worth is determined by financial expediency. Michael's writing is clear and sharp as she brings the impact of this pervasive global philosophy down to the personal, showing how it affects our lives in the everyday.

Michaels spent years researching this book and it shows. This book is packed full of observations and opinions from a wide range of economists, artists, philosophers and scholar, and Michaels introduces each new section of the book with a concise historical context outlining how things once were, how they developed, and how we arrived where we are. Michaels is presents a clear argument without resorting to soapboxing, emotional appeals, or badgering. There is no guilt trip here, just a careful deconstruction of philosophical assumptions that too often go unquestioned. And while it is intellectually satisfying, "Monoculture" is no overbearing academic tome. Michaels' writing is engaging and accessible for readers with a wide range of ability and interest. This is not a pounded pulpit, but a door opening into a discussion that we as a society are badly in need of having.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book lives up to its ambitious title, Sept. 5 2011
This review is from: Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything (Paperback)
It's not often that a book about big ideas so rapidly changes my understanding of the world, but Monoculture maps a general dis-ease I've had for a long time about all sorts of different things (but couldn't quite articulate). Now I can't NOT think about my life from the lens of the economic story. It becomes self-evident.

Monoculture does something important by helping us identify the economic story that drives our era. This story affects all of us in profound ways (and will continue to do so even more, judging from the monetization of our online personas, the substitution of corporate largesse for shrinking public funds, the global spread of GMO crops, increasing pharmaceutical influence in government, and on and on.) We need to know what we are immersed in if we want to choose a different life.

The last part of the book looks at parallel structures - ways that people manage to move out from under the monoculture. I really appreciate F. S. Michaels' clarity regarding the risks one takes choosing to dis-engage from the economic story. However, if I have one disappointment with this book, it's that I felt like I needed much more of this, more examples of people finding their own way with audacity and grit and real-life results. I craved more details, more strategies for overcoming the monoculture. I hope the author writes another book just about this.

Overall, I think Monoculture does a tremendous job of taking some wide-ranging and complex ideas and distilling them in a way that gets to their essence. The writing is clear and jargon-free without oversimplifying things. It is clear that this book is the result of hard thinking, lots of research, and tight editing. Every sentence pulls its weight; there is no extra fat anywhere. F. S. Michaels makes good on supporting the ambitious claim made in the title - not an easy thing to do!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read!, May 25 2011
This review is from: Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything (Paperback)
The main idea in this book is that there is a loss of value diversity in different areas of life, and that changes how we live. The book has a wide application to a wide variety of readers b/c it looks at changing trends in work, education, communities, creativity and the art, spirituality, healthcare and government. I found the book very approachable, well-written, and accessible. Lots of good examples, good synthesis of complex ideas, and I ended up doing lots of "hmmm, that's interesting." I was inspired by the parallel lives section. Overall, the book reads well and really teaches a lot to the reader - and the length is just right, not too long and not too short.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read!, May 19 2011
This review is from: Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything (Paperback)
This book completely captured my attention. I thought it would be a hard read but I was intrigued right from the beginning about how I could "transcend" the monoculture once I understood it. I also like how the implications transcend all cultures and all people. The book does a great job of encompassing the main components of most people's lives in the six chapters about work, relationships and the natural world, community, physical and spiritual health, education and creativity - themes that essentially everyone can understand and relate to in some way. Each chapter and main idea is explained very clearly. So many parts made me sit and ask myself questions about what I thought - I found myself doing that through the whole book. Each chapter tells the story about how each idea has been in the past, then transitions into what it has come to look like today and how the economic story has changed things, with really great examples to outline the argument. The main points are supported extremely well by evidence, examples and details. I have learned so much!
This book is truly fabulous. The whole thing inspired me - I walked away with so much to ponder and reflect on. I can't wait to hand it out to others. I found myself so excited about the content. It's all so easy to understand and yet leaves the reader feeling like there is so much depth to what is being said. Truly, truly wonderful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant and well-written, May 16 2011
This review is from: Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything (Paperback)
An excellent, thought-provoking read. This was one of those books that really made me think days after reading it because suddenly I was aware of how the economic culture seeps into so many aspects of our lives. Although frightening at times, especially regarding how the economic culture has influenced healthcare, overall I found this book hopeful and empowering. With FS Michaels' clear, concise writing style and the uniqueness and relevance of the subject, it is one of the best non-fiction books I've read in a long time.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A journal article more so than a book, Aug. 2 2011
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This review is from: Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything (Paperback)
ah-hah... I just found out that the author is Canadian... this explains a lot about the tone of the book. I'm not exactly sure how to explain what I mean, but there is a Canadian flavor to this book, even though the content is American (i.e. the references to health care processes are based on the U.S. version of healthcare, not the Canadian pseudo-socialist version).

It actually reads more like a journal article (complete with many pages of references) than a book - and is short like a journal article too. It seems to be well-researched and, for the most part, well-supported by other research.

I found it interesting to see just how pervasive the economic model of the world is, at least in North America, and how this "dollar-value" approach to everything lowers our quality of life, even if it might raise our standard of living (for those lucky ones among us anyway).

The author did offer some alternative models but the bulk of the book is spent looking at how our modern world has applied economic assessments to everything, even things that traditionally don't/shouldn't have an economic component (such as our health and well-being).

All in all, it was an interesting and enlightening read even while it was sort of depressing to see how nearly every part of our world has been boiled down into its value in dollars and cents.
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Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything
Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything by F. S. Michaels (Paperback - May 31 2011)
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