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Sierra's November/December 2004 Let's Talk book selection:
The Impossible Will Take a Little While
A book by Paul Rogat Loeb

What it's about
Subtitled A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, this collection of essays focuses on how to find the courage to persist in activism in the face of despair. "Nothing cripples the will like isolation," writes Loeb in his introduction. "By the same token, nothing buoys the spirit and fosters hope like the knowledge that others faced equal or greater challenges in the past, and continued on to bequeath us a better world."

Contributors include Sherman Alexie, Nelson Mandela, Bill McKibben, Vaclav Havel, Alice Walker, and Terry Tempest Williams. "For anyone worn down by Bushism," says Barbara Ehrenreich, this book "is a bracing double cappuccino!" The book is hopeful, inspiring, and motivating. Depending on the outcome of the November elections, it may well be required reading for us all. (Basic Books, $15.95)

Where to get it
The Impossible is available for $15.95 through most bookstores and online venues.

About the author
Paul Rogat Loeb has been a writer and activist for over 30 years. His previous books include Nuclear Culture (1986), which explores the daily world of atomic weapons workers in Hanford, Washington. Hope in Hard Times (1986) looks at the lives and visions of grassroots peace activists. Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time (1999) presages The Impossible Will Take a Little While in examining how people maintain their social commitment despite all the obstacles.

Discussion questions
How will you maintain hope should your candidate lose at the polls in November? One reason for hope suggested by the authors is the inscrutability of fate. Few would have guessed 20 years ago, for example, that the Soviet Union would collapse peacefully, or that Nelson Mandela would be released from prison and become president of a multiracial South Africa.

What other developments have given you hope? What developments might give you hope now? Do you seek solace in nature? Where do you go? Whose interest does despair serve? Do you feel powerless because you are, or because someone wants you to feel that way? How do politicians and the media make people feel powerless, and why? How do you teach your children about injustice in the world without making them feel hopeless? What keeps you going?

See Loeb's Web site for reviews, resources, and bulk orders.

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