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Comment: Moderate wear on cover and edges. Minimal highlighting and/or other markings can be present. May be ex-library copy and may not include CD, Accessories and/or Dust Cover. Good readable copy.
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Material World: A Global Family Portrait Hardcover – Oct 11 1994

4.9 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; 1 edition (Oct. 11 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871564378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871564375
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 1.9 x 31.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #300,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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In honor of the United Nations-sponsored International Year of the Family in 1994, award-winning photojournalist Peter Menzel brought together 16 of the world's leading photographers to create a visual portrait of life in 30 nations. Material World tackles its wide subject by zooming in, allowing one household to represent an entire nation. Photographers spent one week living with a "statistically average" family in each country, learning about their work, their attitudes toward their possessions, and their hopes for the future. Then a "big picture" shot of the family was taken outside the dwelling, surrounded by all their (many or few) material goods.

The book provides sidebars offering statistics and a brief history for each country, as well as personal notes from the photographers about their experiences. But it is the "big pictures" that tell most of the story. In one, a British family pauses before a meal of tea and crumpets under a cloudy sky. In another, wary Bosnians sit beside mattresses used as sniper barricades. A Malian family composed of a husband, his two wives, and their children rests before a few cooking and washing implements in golden afternoon light. Material World is a lesson in economics and geography, reminding us of the world's inequities, but also of humanity's common threads. An engrossing, enlightening book. --Maria Dolan --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From School Library Journal

YA?A fascinating look at the material possessions of families throughout the world. These people have been determined "average" for their countries and have agreed to have photographers move the contents of their houses outside in order to create visible representations of their relative standards of living. The dirt house and few possessions of Mali residents contrast with the 4 cars, 45-foot long sofa, and 12+ oriental carpets lined up outside the luxury home of a family from Kuwait. Each chapter includes the original spread of possessions, statistics about each family and country, as well as further pictures of daily life and some observations by the photographer. Interspersed among the chapters, which are divided by region, are pictorial representations of such interesting comparisons as televisions, meals, and toilets. Almost all of the pictures are in full color. Menzel hoped this would be "a unique tool for grasping cross-cultural realities." It is that and much more.?Susan H. Woodcock, King's Park Library, Burke, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a very interesting book--more like a written documentary--that explores the lives of families in a number of countries based mainly on their possessions. Beautiful photos accompany each section, including the "Big Picture," in which the family is photographed with all of its belongings. Country statistics are also included, as well as interviews with family members and daily life photos.
The value of each family's possessions, as well as the family's values (what's important to them, etc.) are stressed. However, I noticed that while standard of living may differ considerably, everyone, no matter their location, seems to want bascially the same thing: education, a better life for their children, security, etc. This realization was perhaps the best part of the book for me.
What also impressed me was the fact that this book is filled to the brim. There's no way to read it cover-to-cover, really. Instead, it's more of an experience. It must be taken in. Every time I pick it up, I see something differently, in a new light.
You don't have to be an economist or an anthropologist to enjoy this book. On the contrary, anyone who has any interest at all in the outside world would enjoy it. Because the photographers spent so much time with each family, I truly felt like I was transported to each country, like I had a more complete understanding of what it was like to live there.
The residents weren't just faceless, nameless inhabitants of a distant land but were brought to life. And since it was basically told in their own words, very little to no bias is able to come through. Lastly, I have to congratulate the authors for putting together a balanced portrait of life around the globe. The choices were well-made and quite diverse.
Highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback
This book is a fantastic picture book and statistical reference of our world. Menzel's idea was brilliant- -to identify a statistically average family in every corner of the world, and photograph them and all of their belongings, as well as capture aspects of their daily life on film.
The book is organized by continent, and then by country within each continent. Each entry begins with a multi-page photo of the family in front of their house, with of all their possessions. Beside the photo is an enumeration of the possessions that appear in the photo. The remainder of the article is found on the next 3 or 4 pages. There is usually a short summary of statistics about the country, covering such topics as area, population, population density, life expectancy, and rank of affluence among U.N. member countries. But much more informative are a variety of high-quality color photos showing family members going about their daily activities, at work, at school, or eating a meal in the family home. There is a brief text about the family itself, who they are, what they do, and where they live. The photographer also provides a brief summary of his or her experiences while living with the family and taking the photographs. In the photographer's notes are statistics about the work week, the number of radios, telephones, televisions, VCRs, and automobiles. The photographer also asks each family member to identify their most valued possessions and their dreams for the future.
The choice of the family to convey both the ideal and the reality of a typical "American" family was perfect. They have the requisite two children, one of each gender, and a dog. They are shown outside their ranch-style house, with a fairly new pickup truck and minivan in their attached garage.
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Format: Paperback
"Material World" is one of those books that EVERYONE should read. It really is beyond description...deceptively simply yet incredibly moving in its stark simplicity. In these pages about families across the globe, we see scenes from their everyday life. When we glance at the pictures of each family on their lawn surrounded by all of their material goods, the difference between the average American family and the average Ethiopian family couldn't be plainer. We look at the faces on these pages, hear their thoughts on the future, and compare their lives to our own...and suddenly the people in other countries seem real to us, and the faceless people of the news suddenly have faces and thoughts and homes and families. Peter Menzel and all of the others who have worked on this book have done a brilliant and wonderful thing when they created "Material World". They have done what no "You should be grateful..." or "Think of those people in other countries..." could have done...they have made the world real to us.
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Format: Paperback
This book was a required "textbook" in a high school "Science and Sustainability" pilot class my school did in junior year. I remember we generally used the books in class but could check them out to take home if we wanted. I checked one out and din't want to give it back. I think I skipped two classes that day just sitting in the student lounge poring over it, and I think the people reading over my shoulder probably had other things to do as well, but I couldn't put it down, it was so fascinating. So of course I bought my own and I can still pick it up and pore over it for another three hours with the same fascination. It's real life, and the families are real people that you feel somehow close to after reading this. I love this book and show it to everyone. This book will change the way you look at things. Also, for those who think that this book is primarily about material goods around the world, you couldn't be more wrong. Each chapter shows an incredibly detailed portrait of life in another country, and is as wonderful for introducing kids to other cultures as it is for opening their eyes to economic realities. Enjoy.
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