By PHILIPPA JAMIESON*
The author and publisher of Five Holocausts are to be congratulated for this important book. Its message deserves to be heeded by us all.
Derek Wilson, a Wellington architect and peace campaigner, issues a clarion call to the human race: if we and the planet are to survive, we must, in the words of Victor Hugo, "forsake greed and violence and re-establish the bonds of community and a reverence for all life".
The five holocausts, as Wilson calls them, are: militarism (including nuclearism), human oppression, economic destitution, the population explosion, and environmental destruction.
The book is a hefty compendium of nearly 500 pages but don't be put off. It's a fascinating read, showing the links between war, the growing gap between rich and poor, social breakdown, and environmental collapse.
The subject matter is wide-ranging, covering such diverse issues as genetic engineering, Gatt, famine, peace education, landmines and the Hikoi of Hope, to name but a few, and the text is punctuated with frequent quotes and statistics.
The sheer amount of information is impressive and at times overwhelming, but the layout makes it accessible and eminently dip-into-able. It has plenty of subheadings, and the numerous pictures, cartoons and graphs add interest and humour.
It sounds as if it's all doom and gloom but it's not. There are positive events and actions, an epilogue entitled "But What Can I Do?", and specific suggestions in areas of concern such as recycling and waste reduction.
Wilson believes New Zealand could become a world model in the sorts of change needed - witness our anti-nuclear stance.
He also uses as another example the possibility of us leading the world in organic methods of food production.
I would have welcomed the inclusion of a few more practical strategies and ideas, but this is the challenge the author gives us.
Five Holocausts will be a useful sourcebook for secondary and tertiary students and for anyone working for social, economic and environmental change.
* Philippa Jamieson is a Dunedin freelance writer.
* Steele Roberts, $59.95
By PHILIPPA JAMIESON*