Synopses & Reviews
This is the right time to ask yourself: "What should I be doing to help?"
For the first time in history, it is now within our reach to eradicate world poverty and the suffering it brings. Yet around the world, a billion people struggle to live each day on less than many of us pay for bottled water. And though the number of deaths attributable to poverty worldwide has fallen dramatically in the past half-century, nearly ten million children still die unnecessarily each year. The people of the developed world face a profound choice: If we are not to turn our backs on a fifth of the world's population, we must become part of the solution.
In The Life You Can Save, philosopher Peter Singer, named one of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time magazine, uses ethical arguments, provocative thought experiments, illuminating examples, and case studies of charitable giving to show that our current response to world poverty is not only insufficient but ethically indefensible.
Singer contends that we need to change our views of what is involved in living an ethical life. To help us play our part in bringing about that change, he offers a seven-point plan that mixes personal philanthropy (figuring how much to give and how best to give it), local activism (spreading the word in your community), and political awareness (contacting your representatives to ensure that your nation's foreign aid is really directed to the world's poorest people).
In The Life You Can Save, Singer makes the irrefutable argument that giving will make a huge difference in the lives of others, without diminishing the quality of our own. This book is an urgent call to action and a hopeful primer on the power of compassion, when mixed with rigorous investigation and careful reasoning, to lift others out of despair.
"Part plea, part manifesto, part handbook, this short and surprisingly compelling book sets out to answer two difficult questions: why people in affluent countries should donate money to fight global poverty and how much each should give. Singer (Animal Liberation) dismantles the justifications people make for not giving and highlights the successes of such efforts as microfinance in Bangladesh, GiveWell's charitable giving and the 50% League, where members donate more than half their wealth. Singer alternately cajoles and scolds: he pillories Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, who has given less than his former partner, Bill Gates, and lives far more extravagantly: 'His toys include a large collection of vintage military aircraft and a 413-foot oceangoing yacht called Octopus that cost him over $200 million and has a permanent crew of sixty.' Singer contrasts Allen's immoderation with the work of Paul Farmer (a cofounder of the international social justice organization Partners in Health) and the cost of basic health services in Haiti ($3,500 per life saved), or malaria nets ($623 $2,367 per life saved). Singer doesn't ask readers to choose between asceticism and self-indulgence; his solution can be found in the middle, and it is reasonable and rewarding for all." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Persuasive arguments and disturbing statistics." Kirkus Reviews
"If you think you can't afford to give money to the needy, I urge you to read this book. If you think you're already giving enough, and to the right places, still I urge you to read this book. In The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer makes a strong case logical and factual, but also emotional for why each of us should be doing more for the world's impoverished. This book will challenge you to be a better person." Holden Karnofsky, co-founder, GiveWell
"In The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer challenges each of us to ask: Am I willing to make poverty history? Skillfully weaving together parable, philosophy, and hard statistics, he tackles the most familiar moral, ethical, and ideological obstacles to building a global culture of philanthropy, and sets the bar for how we as citizens might do our part to empower the world's poor." Raymond C. Offenheiser, president, Oxfam America
Singer, named one of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time magazine, uses ethical arguments, provocative thought experiments, and case studies of charitable giving to show that the current response to world poverty is not only insufficient but ethically indefensible.
About the Author
Peter Singer is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He is the author, co-author, or editor of more than thirty books, including Animal Liberation, widely considered to be the founding statement of the animal rights movement, Practical Ethics, and One World: Ethics and Globalization.