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Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help
(OverDrive MP3 Audiobook, OverDrive Listen)

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Published:
Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group 2015
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Description

What does it mean to devote yourself wholly to helping others? In Strangers Drowning, Larissa MacFarquhar seeks out people living lives of extreme ethical commitment and tells their deeply intimate stories: their stubborn integrity and their compromises; their bravery and their recklessness; their joys and defeats and wrenching dilemmas. A couple adopts two children in distress. But then they think: If they can change two lives, why not four? Or ten? They adopt twenty. But how do they weigh the needs of unknown children in distress against the needs of the children they already have? Another couple founds a leprosy colony in the wilderness in India, living in huts with no walls, knowing that their two small children may contract leprosy or be eaten by panthers. The children survive. But what if they hadn't? How would their parents' risk have been judged? A woman believes that if she spends money on herself, rather than donate it to buy lifesaving medicine, then she's responsible for the deaths that result. She lives on a fraction of her income, but wonders: when is compromise self-indulgence and when is it essential? We honor such generosity and high ideals; but when we call people do-gooders there is skepticism in it, even hostility. Why do moral people make us uneasy? Between her stories, MacFarquhar threads a lively history of the literature, philosophy, social science, and self-help that have contributed to a deep suspicion of do-gooders in Western culture. Through its sympathetic and beautifully vivid storytelling, Strangers Drowning confronts us with fundamental questions about what it means to be human. In a world of strangers drowning in need, how much should we help, and how much can we help? Is it right to care for strangers even at the expense of those we are closest to? Moving and provocative, Strangers Drowning challenges us to think about what we value most, and why.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Format:
OverDrive MP3 Audiobook, OverDrive Listen
Edition:
Unabridged
Street Date:
09/29/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781101925041
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Larissa MacFarquhar. (2015). Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help. Unabridged Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Larissa MacFarquhar. 2015. Strangers Drowning: Grappling With Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Larissa MacFarquhar, Strangers Drowning: Grappling With Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Larissa MacFarquhar. Strangers Drowning: Grappling With Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help. Unabridged Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 18:29:48
Date Updated:
Nov 22, 2020 02:58:22
Last Metadata Check:
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Last Metadata Change:
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Last Grouped Work Modification Time:
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fullDescription

What does it mean to devote yourself wholly to helping others? In Strangers Drowning, Larissa MacFarquhar seeks out people living lives of extreme ethical commitment and tells their deeply intimate stories: their stubborn integrity and their compromises; their bravery and their recklessness; their joys and defeats and wrenching dilemmas.
A couple adopts two children in distress. But then they think: If they can change two lives, why not four? Or ten? They adopt twenty. But how do they weigh the needs of unknown children in distress against the needs of the children they already have?

Another couple founds a leprosy colony in the wilderness in India, living in huts with no walls, knowing that their two small children may contract leprosy or be eaten by panthers. The children survive. But what if they hadn't? How would their parents' risk have been judged?
A woman believes that if she spends money on herself, rather than donate it to buy lifesaving medicine, then she's responsible for the deaths that result. She lives on a fraction of her income, but wonders: when is compromise self-indulgence and when is it essential?
We honor such generosity and high ideals; but when we call people do-gooders there is skepticism in it, even hostility. Why do moral people make us uneasy? Between her stories, MacFarquhar threads a lively history of the literature, philosophy, social science, and self-help that have contributed to a deep suspicion of do-gooders in Western culture.
Through its sympathetic and beautifully vivid storytelling, Strangers Drowning confronts us with fundamental questions about what it means to be human. In a world of strangers drowning in need, how much should we help, and how much can we help? Is it right to care for strangers even at the expense of those we are closest to? Moving and provocative, Strangers Drowning challenges us to think about what we value most, and why.


From the Hardcover edition.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: AudioFile Magazine
      • content: MacFarquhar, a staff writer for the NEW YORKER, narrates her book with an erudite yet conversational tone that may leave listeners feeling like they've attended a lecture rather than listened to an audiobook. The focus of her study is the phenomenon of radical humanitarians whom MacFarquhar refers to as "do-gooders." No ordinary "nice guys," these people forsake the well-being of their own loved ones in order to achieve true altruism--and that makes the rest of us nervous. Given the book's thesis of far-reaching kindness and its effect on humanity, MacFarquhar's narration might seem reserved. However, her tone is affable enough, making this an insightful listen. R.A. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
popularity
119
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How far do you really go to "do unto others"? Renowned New Yorker journalist Larissa MacFarquhar reveals the individuals who devote themselves fully to bettering the lives of strangers, even when it comes at great personal cost
There are those of us who help and those who live to help. In Strangers Drowning, celebrated journalist Larissa MacFarquhar digs deep into the psychological roots and existential dilemmas motivating those rare individuals practicing lives of extreme ethical commitment. The donor who offers up her kidney to a complete stranger; the activist who abandons possessions to devote himself to the cause; the foster parent who adopts dozens of children: such do-gooders inspire us but also force us to question deep-seated notions about what it means to be human. How could these do-gooders value strangers as much as their own loved ones? What does it really take to live a life of extreme virtue? Might it mean making choices as...
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