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Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World Paperback – Oct 5 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1 edition (Oct. 5 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312420315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312420314
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.5 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #154,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

One of Latin America's most honored historians and authors, Galeano (Memory of Fire) returns with more barbed and bewitching accounts of the contradictions of the First World, as filtered through the enlightened sensibilities of a Third World scholar-writer from Uruguay. He chastises the moneyed First World, which he terms the "upside down world," as a culture gone amok that "scorns honesty, punishes work, and prizes the lack of scruples." In a series of wickedly on-target parables, lessons and homilies that force the reader to question the state of the world as we know it, Galeano slams industrialized nations for turning their backs on critical issues of our time, including poverty, child abuse, patriarchal arrogance and political deception. In "Practicum: How to Make Friends and Succeed in Life," he examines the nature of power, be it cultural, political and religious, revealing how in each area power is maintained through secrecy, money and terror. Humor, sarcasm and careful research inform his short tales of greed and tyranny in full bloom in "Master Class on Impunity," which displays the author at his witty, sardonic best. Concluding his primer with the most potent of his lessons, "The End of the Millennium as Promise and Betrayal," he delivers his hardest blows with stream-of-consciousness truths that match the best work of Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce and Thomas Merton: "What has the world left us? A desolate, de-souled world, that practices the superstitious worship of machines and the idolatry of arms, an upside-down world with its left on its right, its belly button on its backside, and its head where its feet used to be." This is arguably Galeano's most spirited and eloquent examination of our topsy-turvy modern worldDa ticking literary hand grenade waiting to detonate in the mind of the reader. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

With this near-reverent look at current Latin American culture, Uruguayan Galeano adds to his impressive list of publishing credentials (e.g., the "Memory of Fire" trilogy) and awards (the American Book Award and the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom). He subtitles this lively volume a "primer"Dthat is, a primer for pessimism and doom. Considering life in what he terms the South (for readers, the nations of Latin America), he highlights the hopelessness of countries that are not the United States. Galeano offers realistic perspectives on children, crime, racism and sexism, advertising and consumers, and haves and have-nots in a corporation-dominated world. His writing is entertaining and often humorous, yet it yields considerable insight into the everyday expectations of our neighbors to the south, and the author's conclusions are most troubling. Small inserts within the text illustrate his pointsDthe most telling of which focuses on a young boy consumed with watching television, who, when informed of the death of a favorite aging aunt, asks "Who killed her?" Highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries.
-DBoyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., AL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Upside Down is a shocking and passionate documentation of the world's injustices that our "upside down" First World society has turned our back upon. This book will not merely evoke sympathy and remorse, but will leave you screaming for change. I found myself drawn especially to Galeano's dark humor and satirical, poetic style. Galeano's fiery language left me speechless. However, at times I did become glazed after reading list after list of facts. I found that the most inspirational and telling portions of the book were the rare asides and anecdotes in which individuals' stories were recounted. Galeano shows us the bleak reality that we have accepted- a reality where children toil from dawn to dusk to stay alive- a reality where power is driven by security, money and terror. This book will make you ashamed to be privileged.
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Format: Paperback
Galeano is well known for his histories of Empire, but here he presents us with an entirely different - if related - book. UPSIDE DOWN strives to illuminate the absurdities of our world: a world where the strong devour the weak, where corporations devastate the planet, and TV colonizes our souls. Written in the most penetrating and damning language, Galeano is not afraid to tell it like it is. In other words, this is not a feel-good book. For this reason, some have discredited it as a "diatribe," without fully knowing the meaning, history or import of the word. Defined as "learned discourse" mixed with "bitter resentment," UPSIDE DOWN is indeed a diatribe - but the most necessary, illuminating and effective diatriabe out there (with the possible except of Derrick Jenson's A LANGUAGE OLDER THAN WORDS and CULTURE OF MAKE BELIEVE). Similar to those books, UPSIDE DOWN is a scathing indictment of the injustices of modern life. But it is also a shrill, poetic cry for change. This book will unlock more than feelings remorse for the suffering, it will also unlock anger and infuse you with passion for change. All together, a strange little book of riddles, sardonic poems of dissent, mind-boggling statistics, perspective warps, linguistic twists, and poetic flares. Hooked from the first page, it blew me away. In the end, I must have commonplaced over a quarter of it. Another Galeano masterpiece. Should not be overlooked.
"We may be badly made, but we're not finished, and it's the adventure of changing reality and changing ourselves that makes our blip in the history of the universe worthwhile, this fleeting warmth between two glaciers that is us."
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Format: Paperback
While I am a supporter of most (but not all) of Galeano's views, I can't share with others the enthusiasm for this book.
It's not the lack of solutions offered by the author . . . pointing out something wrong does not mandate that one must offer the solution. That's just an illogical fallacy. Sometimes things are just wrong, period, and we need time to figure out what will work.
My problem with this book is that it doesn't deliver what it promises. The "through the looking glass" approach is restricted primarily to boxed in asides throughout the book where the author gives us unusual perspectives or anecdotes that will either make you laugh or cry. These portions of the book are by far the best and the most original. Unfortunately, this is only a small percentage of the book's contents.
The majority of the text comes off as pure rants. Justified rants, mind you, but rants nonetheless. If you're heavily active in progressive causes this will likely leave you cold. Who needs more complaining about the obvious? If, however, you're new to progressive causes, anti-corporate globalization, etc. or aren't that active then this might be a great place to start.
I can only offer a partial recommendation for this book. It has a select audience, one that I'm most definitely not a part of. I just really wish Galeano had stuck to the parts that worked. Many of the asides are brillant little tid bits of information that will force you to look at things differently. But the rest is just the same old same old depressing news you can get off any activist web site.
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Format: Paperback
First of all, may I say how utterly I disagree with readers who criticize Galeano for pointing out the wrongs and not offering solutions. Why should he? This kind of criticism evidences lack of understanding of the book's nature and purposes. This book is not a political programme. It is a masterful piece of writing intended to give information that is all too often withheld and suppressed, and to awaken political conciousness. Both of which are, may I respectfully add, much needed in the United States, where most of the negative reviews come from.
Galeano succeeds in what no other author I know has succeeded - in writing a poetical, haunting book about politics. While describing the misery and suffering that capitalism is wreaking on our upside-down world, he is also able to give us vignettes of amazing beauty. Writers, as everybody knows, don't have to draw their subject matter from romance and butterflies to write beautifully, but managing to write a book full of tenderness, poetry and a very wry humour while describing hunger, torture and repression is, I think, a kind of feat.
Galeano doesn't flinch at the world's evils. He tells them. So, if you read him, you're in for a good dose of reality. Maybe that isn't to the taste of every reader. But then, what do we have Jackie Collins and Danielle Steel for?
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