978-0-00-712898-3 / 9780007128983






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About the book:

When Anita Roddick calls her new Fair Trade agitprop handbook Take It Personally, you know that she means business. Ethical, fairly traded business, of course. Take It Personally has two hosts. Roddick herself steers the text with introductions to the essays and extracts that make up the book's five sections, headed Activism, People, Development, Environment and Money. Her hapless sidekick is George W Bush, whose unintentional humour provides the light relief in what is mostly a depressing analysis.

A focal point, naturally, is the 1999 Seattle demonstrations, and eye-witness accounts tell of the brutality protestors experienced, including Roddick, who was probably the only CEO on the streets that day. Directed at a World Trade Organisation meeting, held appropriately in the Land of the Free (Trade), the book takes similar aim, in addition to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, all guilty, in Roddick's words, of "social Darwinism". The tone of the rhetoric is striking, and though the writing can be variable, much of it is persuasive, particularly the contributions of Naomi Klein, whose book No Logo has inspired an unbranded generation, Indian activist Vandana Shiva, David Boyle (The Tyranny of Numbers) and a short interview by John Pilger with Burma's elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The graphics for this highly visual book are frequently arresting, steeped in the culture of "subvertising", and mingled with hard-hitting soundbites, as well as listings for useful, informative Web sites and magazines.

With proceeds going to NGOs and relevant organisations, Take It Personally practises what it prescribes. While the details of sweatshops, child work abuse, arms trading, poor food distribution, global warming and "profits before people" are hugely dispiriting, the contributors' consensus is the need for individual responsibility, ethical choices, to build from the bottom, from GM-free, organic grass roots, until it grows into corporate response. Biodiversity over monoculture is infinitely the most fruitful agricultural choice, and it stands as a similarly bountiful metaphor for our interconnected world. "Take It Personally" proves a vitally accessible addition to the growing debate on alternative economics and ecological awareness, alongside John Humphrys' The Great Food Gamble, George Monbiot's Captive State, and even Bjorn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist. --David Vincent

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