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Designated by The New York Times Book Review as a must-read in 2008 for the next U.S. president, Lappé’s unique take and laser-like logic invite readers to try on a new, invigorating way of seeing the world. With her characteristic boldness, she takes on a set of disempowering ideas driving economic and ecological crises, challenging readers to rethink the meaning of power Designated by The New York Times Book Review as a must-read in 2008 for the next U.S. president, Lappé’s unique take and laser-like logic invite readers to try on a new, invigorating way of seeing the world. With her characteristic boldness, she takes on a set of disempowering ideas driving economic and ecological crises, challenging readers to rethink the meaning of power, democracy, and hope itself. In her punchy, no-holds-barred style, Lappé weaves together fresh insights, startling facts, and stirring vignettes of regular people pursuing ingenuous solutions. "My book’s intent," Lappé writes, "is to enable us to see what is happening all around us but is still invisible to most of us — people in all walks of life penetrating the spiral of despair and reversing it with new ideas, innovation and courage." This updated and revised edition responds to Obama's presidency and the global financial collapse, concluding with reflection questions that are perfect for book groups.


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Designated by The New York Times Book Review as a must-read in 2008 for the next U.S. president, Lappé’s unique take and laser-like logic invite readers to try on a new, invigorating way of seeing the world. With her characteristic boldness, she takes on a set of disempowering ideas driving economic and ecological crises, challenging readers to rethink the meaning of power Designated by The New York Times Book Review as a must-read in 2008 for the next U.S. president, Lappé’s unique take and laser-like logic invite readers to try on a new, invigorating way of seeing the world. With her characteristic boldness, she takes on a set of disempowering ideas driving economic and ecological crises, challenging readers to rethink the meaning of power, democracy, and hope itself. In her punchy, no-holds-barred style, Lappé weaves together fresh insights, startling facts, and stirring vignettes of regular people pursuing ingenuous solutions. "My book’s intent," Lappé writes, "is to enable us to see what is happening all around us but is still invisible to most of us — people in all walks of life penetrating the spiral of despair and reversing it with new ideas, innovation and courage." This updated and revised edition responds to Obama's presidency and the global financial collapse, concluding with reflection questions that are perfect for book groups.

30 review for Getting A Grip 2: Clarity, Creativity and Courage for the World We Really Want

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    It was over thirty-five ago that Francis Moore Lappe first offered up her revolutionary book that helped people change the way they eat at a time in our history when processed, packaged, and quick, were the food focuses of the day. After selling over three million copies, Diet for a Small Planet still remains one of the most popular books on nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. Lappe now claims author rights to sixteen books, and it is her series of books warning of America’s march towards It was over thirty-five ago that Francis Moore Lappe first offered up her revolutionary book that helped people change the way they eat at a time in our history when processed, packaged, and quick, were the food focuses of the day. After selling over three million copies, Diet for a Small Planet still remains one of the most popular books on nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. Lappe now claims author rights to sixteen books, and it is her series of books warning of America’s march towards a “thin democracy” that may be her most important works. Lappe began writing about her views on democracy in 2002 with Hopes Edge: the next diet for a small planet. She continued with You Have the Power: choosing democracy in a culture of Fear, Democracy’s Edge: choosing to save our country by bringing democracy to life and, Getting a Grip: clarity, creativity and courage in a world gone mad. It is Getting a Grip that stands out as a gem of a handbook on what many Americans fear: that our democracy is crumbling under our feet, and there seems to be no remedy. In all of Lappe’s books, she connects what is happening in our political landscape with the warnings of Thomas Jefferson, Dwight Eisenhower, and Franklin Deleno Roosevelt. Roosevelt made this statement to congress in 1938, “if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence is Fascism…” Lappe warns us in her own words, “Thin democracy has always been inadequate to serve our interests. But, today it is deadly because it assumes the worse – that we are nothing more than selfish competitors out to get our own stuff.” Lappe, a frequent contributor to the online blog, The Huffington Post, commented there on Barack Obama's now well-know “Racism Speech,” with these words, “Obama refers to ‘a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests.’ But he can even more forcefully focus on Americans on this mother of all issues: noting that the danger is not only private power’s distortion of public priorities but its shutting out of the real force needed, that of engaged citizens.” It is Getting a Grip that is a solid citizens manifesto, a workbook on citizen action and on regaining our true democratic power. Each chapter clarifies the concerns many of us have, and gives us a focus that empowers us to act on those concerns. Getting a Grip identifies our fears without chastising, but with explanation. She encourages us to remember what democracy feels like, and reminds us that it is our responsibility not to relinquish our power to those who manifest unjustified fear with the intention of embezzling that power from its rightful owners; the American people. Lappe is an author, an activist, and ultimately, a true patriot. We must, as United States citizens, heed the warnings in her writings. If we chose not to, we seal our fate. So, the only question remaining is, do you feel comfortable with that fate?”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    I expected more from Frances Moore Lappe. My major issue with Getting a Grip is not that it lacks in good ideas but that it fails to develop them. Add to this its highly manipulative writing style and the result is something dangerously like one of those dime-a-dozen motivational speeches or self-help books. That's unfortunate, because I would not for a second doubt the author's integrity, yet I fear she undercuts the efficacy of her own message by peddling far too many facile slogans and sancti I expected more from Frances Moore Lappe. My major issue with Getting a Grip is not that it lacks in good ideas but that it fails to develop them. Add to this its highly manipulative writing style and the result is something dangerously like one of those dime-a-dozen motivational speeches or self-help books. That's unfortunate, because I would not for a second doubt the author's integrity, yet I fear she undercuts the efficacy of her own message by peddling far too many facile slogans and sanctimonious platitudes. Is it inspiring? Yes, it is, and maybe that's enough if we take time to individually reflect on her propositions. Her call to positivity, for one, is hard to turn down. However, civic-minded readers are going to have to seriously supplement this book with other, more substantial texts or when it comes right down to it they will find themselves equipped with a bunch of softballs.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Orton Family Foundation

    Getting A Grip is a little book with a big call to action. Frances Moore Lappé takes on the very notion of what democracy means today and what we can do to bring about its full potential. World-renowned food expert and activist (her first book, Diet for a Small Planet, has sold more than three million copies since first published in 1971), Lappé tackles the shortcomings of our current political and economic framework and gives us hope for the future by proposing a new lens through which to see an Getting A Grip is a little book with a big call to action. Frances Moore Lappé takes on the very notion of what democracy means today and what we can do to bring about its full potential. World-renowned food expert and activist (her first book, Diet for a Small Planet, has sold more than three million copies since first published in 1971), Lappé tackles the shortcomings of our current political and economic framework and gives us hope for the future by proposing a new lens through which to see and act in our world. Simple and effective graphics capture the book’s big ideas, and key themes are highlighted with poignant quotes. Lappé makes many thought-provoking contrasts; one is her distinction between what she calls “Thin Democracy” and “Living Democracy.” Thin Democracy (what we’ve got today) has reduced civic participation to a point where “there isn’t much for us to do except show up at the polls and shop.” I found myself nodding along with many of her observations and was surprised at my own ignorance of just how imbalanced some parts of our democracy have become (she cites research that shows the lobbyist-to-elected- representative ratio in Washington, DC is 61:1). In contrast, Living Democracy is “a way of life no longer done to us but (is) something we create.” Lappé proposes that this kind of democracy is dynamic, values guided, learned, power creating and everywhere. It goes beyond our interaction with government structures; it is a part of how we interact with others at work, at home and at play. We are all part of it; we are all responsible. Lappé provides a chapter with glimpses from around the U.S. and the world: examples include civic partnerships to bring healthy food to poor communities in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and the creation of “community benefits agreements” in several cities across the US, demonstrating how broad and diverse efforts can be. In case you are not sure whether you are engaged in Living Democracy, Lappé also provides a handy checklist. What makes this shift possible? Lappé identifies “revolutions” in how we communicate and share knowledge, are connected through networks, share a common belief in human dignity and draw on ecological understanding in new ways. Focusing on one of these revolutions—knowledge sharing—Lappé notes how 85 percent of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s course materials are now online for anyone to access for free. And if you’ve surfed the Internet in search of best practices in community planning recently, you’ve probably come across a wealth of projects from which to learn. It’s sometimes hard to believe that we share core values given all the media and political posturing over the years, but Lappé makes a strong case for a few including “fairness, inclusion and mutual accountability.” Citing examples of workforce training programs in San Antonio, Texas, and environmental stewardship in southern Oregon, she illustrates how we can move from how “they” are the problem to how “we” can work together—an essential step to solving the problems our society faces. Lappé reframes the concepts of power and fear, two critical parts of the inertia inherent in our current sociopolitical context. Moving from the perception of power as something limited to the clutches of a few to its true meaning, “the capacity to act,” opens us all up to sharing in it. She also encourages us to think about how we respond to fear when we encounter that uncomfortable feeling of standing up to the status quo. She suggests that “we can learn to walk ever taller with our fear,” channeling it to help us meet our purpose. This courage is essential to questioning the establishment in how decisions affecting our communities are made today. Lappé also helps to distinguish between issues, those “overwhelming” challenges we face, and entry points, those places where you can affect the root causes of an issue. To help illustrate this distinction, Lappé provides several examples including the passage of Clean Elections laws to reduce the influence of money in politics and programs like YouthBuild that empower young people to take positive action in their communities. There is much good news in this book, but Lappé also acknowledges hard realities. She notes that things are getting worse and better at the same time and that under certain circumstances humans are capable of terrible acts. She cautions us to be aware of the conditions under which the terrible is possible, such as “extreme imbalances in power… anonymity that shields us from accountability… negative labeling that dehumanizes others…and the grip of absolutist ideologies that teach us to distrust our own common sense.” Lappé’s Living Democracy provides one way back from these conditions. Getting a Grip is ultimately about reclaiming democracy, and it provides paths for each of us to find our parts in it. Lappé shows us that we are not alone in our perception of the current state of things. She demonstrates that our own efforts to strike out in new directions are leveraged by people all around the world who are solving problems and creating value in previously unimaginable ways. One quote from this book gave me the intuitive chills I get when I know something is right on: “joyful living, I’m convinced, happens when we hit that spot where a potent entry point that touches a root cause fires our own deep passions.” Who doesn’t want that kind of joy in their life? Read more reviews by the Orton Family Foundation in our Scenarios e-journal at http://www.orton.org/resources/public... -Ariana McBride

  4. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    Have had this on my shelf for a very long time and finally dusted it off and read it. Ms. Lappé's observations are as spot on today as they were when she first wrote and later revised the material for this now 10-yr old version. As soon as I read about Living Democracy it spoke volumes to me and I reached for my phone and started googling. It turns out people are teaching this - in universities and in schools - it is real. It is, as we say, "a thing." The book jacket reads, Francis Moore Lappé ha Have had this on my shelf for a very long time and finally dusted it off and read it. Ms. Lappé's observations are as spot on today as they were when she first wrote and later revised the material for this now 10-yr old version. As soon as I read about Living Democracy it spoke volumes to me and I reached for my phone and started googling. It turns out people are teaching this - in universities and in schools - it is real. It is, as we say, "a thing." The book jacket reads, Francis Moore Lappé has been called "A Warrior for Hope." In the difficult times we are living in, and living out, it is hard to overestimate the value of hope. I was so encouraged that each time she presented a concept she paired it with a real-world example. Look, I told myself, people are out there, making a difference, living their values, teaching them to others. It is, to say the least, inspired and inspiring. It is my nature to be the cynic, telling myself that my small actions aren't enough, aren't vital, that they don't count. And then I see a story about someone who believed in herself, believed in her importance, her value, her power - and then I suck it up and ask myself, If not you, who? If not now, when? Democracy is dying - what are we waiting for? WHO are we waiting for? And will it be too late?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    I picked this up due to a Howard Zinn blurb on the back. Written at the tail end of the W Bush years I expected doom and gloom from a progressive book. This was, however, refreshingly upbeat, recommending changing society from the bottom up through voluntary associations instead of voting and disappointingly waiting for the world to change. The writing, however, was not good. It reads like a Facebook post with statements like this, “Yeah, yeah, each action counts but we still must choose, I can I picked this up due to a Howard Zinn blurb on the back. Written at the tail end of the W Bush years I expected doom and gloom from a progressive book. This was, however, refreshingly upbeat, recommending changing society from the bottom up through voluntary associations instead of voting and disappointingly waiting for the world to change. The writing, however, was not good. It reads like a Facebook post with statements like this, “Yeah, yeah, each action counts but we still must choose, I can hear the reader sighing.” So yeah, yeah I like the ideas and the author seems legit, but the style wasn’t there.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Peter Buettner

    just couldn't finish it. the writing style is too reminiscent of politicians cherry-picking peoples' lives to advance their agenda. i probably agree with the premise. just couldn't finish it. the writing style is too reminiscent of politicians cherry-picking peoples' lives to advance their agenda. i probably agree with the premise.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Useful and encouraging. Filled with checklists, charts, and discussion questions so you interact with the information rather than just reading it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Polly Trout

    This is a fabulous book, everyone should read it. Everyone. I wish I had 50 copies to give away; I wish I could take hostages and refuse to release them until they read this book and seminared on it. (note to government: just joking). Lappe talks about how all human beings have an innate capacity for both good and evil; the trick is creating social conditions that foster good and control evil, rather than the other way around. This is an idea I have been obsessing on a lot lately. She has an ele This is a fabulous book, everyone should read it. Everyone. I wish I had 50 copies to give away; I wish I could take hostages and refuse to release them until they read this book and seminared on it. (note to government: just joking). Lappe talks about how all human beings have an innate capacity for both good and evil; the trick is creating social conditions that foster good and control evil, rather than the other way around. This is an idea I have been obsessing on a lot lately. She has an elegant summary of what she calls "conditions under which brutality will almost certainly surface:" -- extreme imbalances in power that thwart the creative energies of the disempowered and distort the humanity of the powerful. -- anonymity that shields us from accountability and distances us from our innate connection and caring. -- negative labeling that dehumanizes others and leads to their being scapegoated. -- the grip of absolutist ideologies that teach us to distrust our own common sense. The antidotes are equality, intimacy, mutual respect and compassion, and a curious, seeking attitude that courageously explores reality without clinging to rigid and artificial concepts. The question for me is, how do we create alternative community where these values can flourish, so that our goodness is mutually reinforcing? How do we bring out the good in each other, but also develop forgiveness, patience, humility, and tenderness, so that when our shadow sides inevitably surface, we can still experience love and acceptance and healing? When we do come across evil, how do we confront it effectively, while staying true to our values? When can love and patience overcome brutality, and when is it time to run like hell and lock the door? Here's a link to the book's websites, you should check out the graphics for the spiral of empowerment versus the spiral of powerlessness: http://www.gettingagrip.org/

  9. 5 out of 5

    Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea

    I haven't read Lappe before--although I need to read Diet for a Small Planet--and thought I'd give her a whirl as occasionally I hear good things about her writing. Reading Get a Grip I was immediately faced with the reality that this book is for folks just starting down a journey of self-discovery and liberation. While I agree with her sentiments, I did not like some of her use of language. It almost feels like she doesn't want to stray from her target audience of liberal/conservative "middle-o I haven't read Lappe before--although I need to read Diet for a Small Planet--and thought I'd give her a whirl as occasionally I hear good things about her writing. Reading Get a Grip I was immediately faced with the reality that this book is for folks just starting down a journey of self-discovery and liberation. While I agree with her sentiments, I did not like some of her use of language. It almost feels like she doesn't want to stray from her target audience of liberal/conservative "middle-of-the-road" folks, which for someone like me who understands what she's saying, finds the writing rather bland and uninteresting. It's a quick read and very accessible. It does boast some good resources--but again, nothing too revolutionary. I also find some of her examples uncritical and actually kind of demoralizing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    For those who remember "Diary for a Small Planet," which made a number of my friends vegetarians, this is the same author. I gave it only two stars because it's not remarkably well written, but it's an interesting book. The subtitle is "clarity creativity and courage in a world gone mad." I read it for my book group and was pleasantly surprised that it is not just a light look at a way to run the world differently--it has some actionable steps. It is, of course, somewhat optimistic, but has made For those who remember "Diary for a Small Planet," which made a number of my friends vegetarians, this is the same author. I gave it only two stars because it's not remarkably well written, but it's an interesting book. The subtitle is "clarity creativity and courage in a world gone mad." I read it for my book group and was pleasantly surprised that it is not just a light look at a way to run the world differently--it has some actionable steps. It is, of course, somewhat optimistic, but has made me think I need to look at situations differently to try and come up with better outcomes. Worth the read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Frances More Lappe offers up a theoretical framework on empowerment in the modern age, relying upon some statistics and many anecdotes, utilizing a highly rhetorical style to frame an argument to suit her needs. Not that her underlying premise, an informed and engaged electorate can solve many of our world's problems, is a bad one, indeed it's a great idea. But the book is really an ideals volume and not one of ideas or execution Lappe has written many other books on her field of interest and I be Frances More Lappe offers up a theoretical framework on empowerment in the modern age, relying upon some statistics and many anecdotes, utilizing a highly rhetorical style to frame an argument to suit her needs. Not that her underlying premise, an informed and engaged electorate can solve many of our world's problems, is a bad one, indeed it's a great idea. But the book is really an ideals volume and not one of ideas or execution Lappe has written many other books on her field of interest and I believe I will take a further look at them because of reading this book. But I'm not sure this volume is a world shaker the way some people think of it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elinor Hurst

    While this book espoused a lot of sentiments I agreed with, and had a worthy aim of motivating readers to action on issues of environmental and social justice, I found it a somewhat tedious read. The text was not inspiringly written or engaging, and I kept thinking it read more like a handbook or textbook, especially when I came to the "group discussion" topics at the end. That said, I admire what Francis Moore Lappe is trying to achieve, and the book is a useful source of ideas for stimulating a While this book espoused a lot of sentiments I agreed with, and had a worthy aim of motivating readers to action on issues of environmental and social justice, I found it a somewhat tedious read. The text was not inspiringly written or engaging, and I kept thinking it read more like a handbook or textbook, especially when I came to the "group discussion" topics at the end. That said, I admire what Francis Moore Lappe is trying to achieve, and the book is a useful source of ideas for stimulating activism.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    A nice dose of hopefulness to counter the cynicism and negativity that is so rampant in our "culture of fear". Champions the power of positive thinking and positive language. Differentiates between our current system of "Thin Democracy" vs. the rising grassroots movement of people demonstrating the values of "Living Democracy". A nice dose of hopefulness to counter the cynicism and negativity that is so rampant in our "culture of fear". Champions the power of positive thinking and positive language. Differentiates between our current system of "Thin Democracy" vs. the rising grassroots movement of people demonstrating the values of "Living Democracy".

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ann

    This is an important book; Ms. Lappe writes about what we can do to be involved with making important changes in the world around us. The book is written well and simply. I would recommend this to anyone. There is hope for us all!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    A hopeful book that makes you want to take action immediately... in fact, I'm off to donate to Kiva, join a CSA, and read some Indymedia! A hopeful book that makes you want to take action immediately... in fact, I'm off to donate to Kiva, join a CSA, and read some Indymedia!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jen Chau

    The author introduced the idea of "living democracy" -- which really boils down to the empowerment of citizens to create change (and consciousness-building so that each of us is really cognizant of how we impact the world). The author introduced the idea of "living democracy" -- which really boils down to the empowerment of citizens to create change (and consciousness-building so that each of us is really cognizant of how we impact the world).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    I really really really like this book. Subtitle: Clarity, creativity and courage in a world gone mad. Wonderful to read an activist book that addresses gloom and doom but doesn't stop there. This book is optimistic, uplifting and motivating. I strongly recommend it. I really really really like this book. Subtitle: Clarity, creativity and courage in a world gone mad. Wonderful to read an activist book that addresses gloom and doom but doesn't stop there. This book is optimistic, uplifting and motivating. I strongly recommend it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Torie

    I'm reviewing this book for Counterpoise. So far, it's not at all what I want to read right now, so the going is slow. Stay tuned. Or not. I'm reviewing this book for Counterpoise. So far, it's not at all what I want to read right now, so the going is slow. Stay tuned. Or not.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    Slow going, somewhat annoying, probably could have been published as a tighter essay.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    Inspiring with lots of examples of people making positive change in the world. She also proposes some new models for looking at the world, which can be useful when evaluating problems/solucions.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I heard Frances Moore Lappe speak on this book last week and I was really inspired. The book is a fast read, also inspiring and motivating!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    A call to action that is insightful and encouraging.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karl

    Good insights, a bit repetitive, reads like a textbook. Would make excellent material for a high school or undergraduate course.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    A wonderful little book of fresh good sense and encouragement to go out and do something. Thanks for a great gift, Louise!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Focusing on food and environment, a fresh look at what democracy means (or could mean). Presents the idea that the beliefs we (society) have shape what we see in the world.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Schwartz

    I liked the title more than the book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Just as good as the first one only with current information.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mary Revoy

    Definitely a must read! I feel encouraged by the cycle of hope. I now enjoy a new found inspiration to search inside myself for new ways to respond to fear.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steven Carter-lovejoy

    Inspiring book about building participatory democracy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Aleli

    Another by Frances Lappe I am EAGER to read...... and probably re-read!

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