Truly Bad Films

Monday, December 26, 2005

Book Review

Hunger: An Unnatural History by Sharman Apt Russell

What a fascinating and well-written book! Sharman talks about what happens to the human body when it under goes starvation. She begins by describing what happens within the first 18 hours of starvation, then moves to 36 hours, seven days and thirty days without food. She compares the Minnesota Experiment, which was a starvation study done on American volunteers in the mid-1940’s, to studies done on starvation by Jewish doctors who were imprisoned in the Warsaw ghetto. The Minnesota Experiment found that people are never the same after extended starvation. Sunny natures dim and metabolisms go awry.

Hunger also informs the reader about re-feeding protocols painstakingly developed for starved children and adults, by international aid organizations, over the years since the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. After you read this book you will never want to diet again. The effects of starvation on emotional well-being, intellectual abilities and physical health are unspeakably horrible.

When I read how little some families eat during a week, I was astounded at the persistence of life. It reminded me of a book I’ve seen, but have not read, called Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. Hungry Planet resulted from a photographic project in which families from all over the globe pose together with a typical week worth of groceries. The photographs speak volumes without being political. Similarly, Hunger tells the historical, biological and social stories about the scourge of hunger without bemoaning the causes or demanding that the reader lead the charge to correct the problem.


At 2:40 PM, Blogger bunnyjo georg said...

This reminds me of a book I read years ago called "The Hungry Self" about how, only in the richest nations of the world, we use food as a panacia trying to fill the empty spaces, hurts and longings left by our inadequate lives and upbringings. It was a hideous book, but only because I saw too much of myself in it. Ugh!

At 7:57 PM, Blogger Chai-rista said...

Interesting! I'll check it out.


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