3 out of 4 stars
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When human cruelty rears its ugly head, when genocide is perpetuated or discovered, or when preventable tragedies occur, most people swear they’ll never allow it to happen again or vow had they been privy, it wouldn’t have happened at all. In Immediacy: Our Ways of Coping in Everyday Life author Fred Emil Katz explores the sociology and psychology of humans in the midst of terrifying events and delves into the reasoning behind their actions and choices. I rated this book 3 out of 4 stars. The book was well-researched and well-written, the subject matter and examples were interesting, and the author’s passion was evident. Unfortunately a few typographical errors and sections of repeated information shows an overall lack of professional editing, warranting a-less-than-perfect review.
Immediacy is a series of essays written over the period of several years. The essays deal with transcendence, morality, duality and autonomy, and how these aspects of psychology and sociology influence decision making, and to the extreme, horrific genocide, like the Holocaust of WWII or the genocide of Rwanda. Many of the essays read like a sociology graduate student’s dissertation and are quite weighty in tone and subject matter. The author takes published research studies and analyzes them and explains how the research can be applied and why it’s important.
Author Fred Emil Katz lost many family members in the Holocaust and most of the examples throughout the book are related to that. Nazism and overall patriotism are also explored through his unique lens. I appreciated Katz’s honesty and vulnerability as he discussed these subjects and his perspective make the examples very real and not easily forgotten.
While I liked this book and feel it is very important to read, I must admit it was tough to read. There were times I had to put it down and distract myself with something light-heated and frivolous. Human beings are so powerful and this book was filled with examples of using that power for evil instead of good. At one point the author discusses the moral progress of the human race and wonders if any has truly been made. After reading this book, I was left wondering the same thing.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes sociology or psychology or ever wondered how entire groups of people can do horrible things. Readers looking for something to make them think over weighty subjects would also like this book. I think for the right book club, Immediacy would inspire some spirited and interesting debate and discussion.
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