Read the latest reviews of books and films about building a better world.

Friday, 31 August, 2018

At an average of two metres above sea level, the Central Pacific nation of Kiribati has become one of climate change’s most visible victims. We follow Maria Tiimon as she pleads her country’s case to a painfully ambivalent international community. The Hungry Tide asks: if Kiribati is the climate change canary in the coal-mine, why are we still digging?


With many issues around the environment, the biggest challenge to fixing the problem is that cause and effect - and the perpetrator and victim - are so far removed from each other. Basically, we don't see the fish that chokes on our discarded plastic bag. In a similar way, the communities most affected by climate change are not the big polluters. 


The Hungry Tide looks at the toll man-made climate change has had on one such community: the Central Pacific nation of Kiribati. At an average of two metres above sea level, Kiribati's rising tides and increasing salinity threaten the lives and livelihoods of its 105,000 residents. The flim follows Mari Tiimon, a Kiribati woman living in Sydney, who takes the story of her country's plight to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference and beyond. 


Tiimon is a wonderful character to travel with, even as we watch this horrible tragedy unfold. She's smart and funny, sweet and powerful, balancing the competing pressures of culture and modern advocacy. But throughout the film, we fear she's doomed to failure. We all know the apathy our larger economies can show to causes that aren't right in front of us. And these places are so small. As Australians, our part in this country's downfall is particularly shameful. 


The main question left at the end of The Hungry Tide is: if Kiribati is the canary in the coal-mine, why are we still digging? - Mark Russell



Monday, 04 September, 2017
A Naga Odyssey Book Cover

Nagaland is a mountainous state in Northeast India. It borders Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Myanmar and Manipur. It is inhabited by 16 ethnic groups, all unique in their customs, language and dress. It became the 16th state of India in 1963 but since the 1950s has experienced insurgency and violent inter-ethnic conflict which continues to this day.

Visier Meyasetsu Sanyü, a man from Nagaland, together with Richard Broome, an Emeritus Professor of History at La Trobe University in Melbourne, wrote this book, 'A Naga Odyssey' which tells an extraordinary story of a 21st-century Odysseus who took 20 years, like his Greek counterpart, to return home at last.

Tuesday, 08 August, 2017
The Gandhi Experiment Book Cover

‘The Gandhi Experiment – Teaching Our Teenagers How to Become Global Citizens’ is a short, easily digestible book that has been developed to suit flexible learning situations. Some chapters can be completed in one session, while others focus on overarching concepts that can be taught over multiple lessons. Each chapter is full of tools and strategies for peace building that are easily adaptable according to context.

Tuesday, 25 April, 2017

Frank Buchman, initiator of Moral Re-Armament, was an American with distant Swiss-German roots. Buchman had a deep love for Germany. The period covered here, roughly 1920-1950, begins with a defeated Germany suffering economic collapse and widespread hardship following World War I. It covers the 12 years of Nazi power, which promised rebirth but brought tyranny, genocide and national destruction. It ends as a democratic Federal Republic and a reconciled Western Europe are about to take shape.