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Material World: A Global Family Portrait by…

Material World: A Global Family Portrait

by Peter Menzel

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8621615,721 (4.62)1 / 21



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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Too old, and too simplistic.  Also, too many comparisons of apples and oranges.
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
Coffee-table book with color photographs of people from all over the world with all their worldly possessions arranged around them. A dramatic comparison of standards of living and material wealth, from the U.S. to Africa.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
I am fascinated by books like this that show comparisions in lifestyles, living conditions and diet around the worldl in different cultures. This one was a little dated, from the mid 1990's, but still really interesting! ( )
  saillergirl | Jan 18, 2016 |
Well, this book consumed my Sunday, and I feel that I've taken a quick tour of the average family in 20 countries. The content via photograph was amazing, but I felt that there wasn't enough explanation. I'd have preferred a documentary, I suppose, as I didn't feel that was able to learn enough from the pictures. Perhaps I didn't dedicate enough time to each photograph, but I ended up with way more questions than answers.

I think my son will enjoy this, but the text is too difficult for him. He's the type that enjoys examining every detail in a photograph/picture, so I think this will be the perfect match for him anyway. ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
A photographic survey of thirty families in the world: their family connections, possessions, and everyday tasks are photographed and discussed in relation to other people in their respective country. Being over 20 years old, some of these entries are obviously dated (e.g. the photographed war in Bosnia has been over for a couple of decades and it would be really interesting to see a current situation version of that particular entry), but they still make it quite clear how very differently people on this globe lives. For some, their "most valuable possession" is a cello or a TV, for some it's a bike (to get to work), and for some there are none - they own nothing of value. If for no other reason, this is worth a read for whenever you (like me...) feel like complaining about Netflix not streaming the movie you want to watch or when you forgot to pick up something at the store and have to make another run. There is obviously no way one person could fix all of the wrongs in the world, but it doesn't hurt to get reminded about how well many of us live, compared to most other people in the world. ( )
1 vote -Eva- | Apr 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Menzelprimary authorall editionscalculated
Eisert, SandraPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kennedy, Paul M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0871564300, Paperback)

In honor of the United Nations-sponsored International Year of the Family in 1994, award-winning photojournalist Peter Menzel brought together 16 of the world's leading photographers to create a visual portrait of life in 30 nations. Material World tackles its wide subject by zooming in, allowing one household to represent an entire nation. Photographers spent one week living with a "statistically average" family in each country, learning about their work, their attitudes toward their possessions, and their hopes for the future. Then a "big picture" shot of the family was taken outside the dwelling, surrounded by all their (many or few) material goods.

The book provides sidebars offering statistics and a brief history for each country, as well as personal notes from the photographers about their experiences. But it is the "big pictures" that tell most of the story. In one, a British family pauses before a meal of tea and crumpets under a cloudy sky. In another, wary Bosnians sit beside mattresses used as sniper barricades. A Malian family composed of a husband, his two wives, and their children rests before a few cooking and washing implements in golden afternoon light. Material World is a lesson in economics and geography, reminding us of the world's inequities, but also of humanity's common threads. An engrossing, enlightening book. --Maria Dolan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:43 -0400)

Photo spreads, with brief commentaries, of possessions of families in more than 50 countries. Awards: SLJ Best Book. Annotation. A fascinating project--sponsored by a number of international organizations--resulting in this richly intriguing book (it will get well-deserved promotion and distribution via all sorts of media). Sixteen photographers traveled to 30 nations to live for a week with families that are "statistically average" for that nation. At the end of each visit, photographer and subjects collaborated on a portrait of the family, outside of its home, surrounded by all of its material possessions--a few jars and jugs for some, an abundance of electronic gadgetry for others. The 360 color photos are accompanied by information about the standard of living in each country, notes by the photographers about their experiences, and profiles of family members and their lives. We are witnessing the emergence of a unified world economy, as exemplified by NAFTA and GATT, that will, in theory, make goods available at cheaper prices, create new jobs throughout the world, raise standards of living, and benefit the average family. However, population growth and resource exploitation will also affect these potential benefits as patterns of consumption change. In stunning photographs and text, Material World demonstrates the present context for the emerging global economy, what it means to be "statistically average," by displaying families in more than thirty nations outside their homes - with all their possessions in view. Among the 350 stunning images are those of a family in lush Samoa juxtaposed with a Kuwaiti family and the two Mercedes-Benzes parked outside their desert home a family in Iceland posing with their treasured string instruments while a family in Sarajevo huddles outside their bullet-ridden apartment. The text describes what it means to be "average" in each of thirty very dissimilar cultures and the impact of each way of life on the local environment. Statistical information about each country accompanies the photo-essays so that readers can easily compare one culture with another.… (more)

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