When I told people I was reading a book about hunger, they kept asking, "Hunger like being hungry? Or hunger like world hunger?" The answer is simply "yes." Russell covers hunger in all its myriad forms, providing a 10,000 foot overview of the subject that nonetheless manages to be astonishingly personal.
I loved the writing best when it was
personal, or at least smaller scale. The passages discussing how Russell dealt emotionally with the information she uncovered while researching the book were beautiful, as was the science writing describing in intricate detail how the metabolism shifts when food grows scarce. I also appreciated her examination of the hunger strike as a political tool. I did find myself wishing for more depth, but that's a wish for a different book, not necessarily a flaw with this one.
Notably less successful was the chapter on anthropology, which provided a literature review without offering much in the way of critical analysis. When the studies under discussion are 50-year old Western investigations of African and South American peoples that come down to "these people are weird and primitive," that's . . . kind of unfortunate. The conclusion's rather breezy assertions on how to end world hunger were also less than compelling, and that's speaking as someone who holds similar political positions to Russell; I can't imagine her arguments being convincing to anyone not already in firm agreement.
Recommended, except to those struggling with eating disorders, who may find the book triggering--it certainly left me hyper-aware of my own eating (and lack of eating) while reading.