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Book World: Carolyn See Reviews Kristof and WuDunn's 'Half the Sky'

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Again, this book is not a sermon about victims. Its range is wide, and sometimes it's even funny. In a wonderful, mordantly amusing chapter about big groups trying to impose their views on cultures they don't understand, the authors describe fundamentalist Christians trying as hard as they can to prevent contraception, and secular elites trying as hard as they can to advance it. But, as Kristof and WuDunn remind us, if you're down-and-out in a Congolese jungle, the Christian missionaries will be the ones there to provide you with food and medication.

"Half the Sky" is a call to arms, a call for help, a call for contributions, but also a call for volunteers. It asks us to open our eyes to this enormous humanitarian issue. It does so with exquisitely crafted prose and sensationally interesting material. It provides us with a list of individual hospitals, schools and small charities so that we can contribute to, or at least inform ourselves about, this largely unknown world. I really do think this is one of the most important books I have ever reviewed. I may be wrong, but I don't think so.

See can be reached at

Sunday in Outlook

-- How the great Cold War strategists duked it out.

-- The only Southern county to secede from the Confederacy.

-- The man who gave us the Big Sky series.

-- Tchaikovsky for everybody.

-- And a look back at the Great Depression.

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