This paper is based on the books Half the Sky How to Change the World, Gulliver’s travel and 1984. Half the Sky How to Change the World is written by two former New York Times journalists (Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn). Gulliver’s travel and 1984 are written by Jonathan Swift and George Orwell respectively.
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Half the Sky How to Change the World is a collection of the authors’ experiences, while still working for the New York Times. Nicholas Kristof has been perceived by many observers as the embodiment of serious journalism because he hails from the elite society of journalism, although this image is in sharp contrast to the ‘slave owner’ image he represents in Half the Sky How to Change the World (The Guardian 1).
The book is based on the experiences of Kristof and his wife as they narrate how they bought child slaves from owners of brothels and later sent them back to their villages.
With the help of other organizations, they helped integrate the girls back to their original homes, but as they explain, this was no easy feat. Half the sky How to Change the World equates modern-day slavery to the Trans Atlantic slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries because the authors explain that young girls are trafficked all over the world in proportions that greatly outweigh the African slave trade numbers (Kristof and Wudun 4).
Here, they draw a grim comparison of the human trafficking trade to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the 20th century genocide incidences, where human rights violations were perpetrated by the day.
Due to the magnitude of the trade, the authors explain that, the 21st century is characterized by a moral crisis that greatly outweighs any human rights violations of previous centuries. The authors paint a scenario which shows that most of the human traffic trade goes on without any hindrance from authorities or the society because it is ignored.
However, they grip the readers’ attention by explaining that, the human traffic trade is the root of most economic, political and social problems experienced in the world today (though the connection is not evident for ordinary people) (Kristof and Wudun 14). Comprehensively, the book Half the Sky How to Change the World exposes the rot that is human trafficking and tries to expose the severity of the trade and how it affects the world today.
Gulliver’s travel is a book based on the experiences of a sailor who visits several remote parts of the world. Gulliver’s Travel is mainly written to expose human psychology and the intrigues that surround it (Swift 1).
The book exposes the differences among various religions of the world and explains that, these differences are an ironic representation of the human psychology because in as much as people believe they are different, they are very alike. The book also exposes the importance of culture, and how people are worthless or lack meaning without it. Critics have viewed the book as an interesting satire on human psychology but they also acknowledge that the book is a parody of the author’s experiences as a sailor and a surgeon.
The book is based on four parts (or expeditions), where the lead character visits Lilliput, Blefuscu Brobdingnag, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, Japan and the country of the Houyhnhnms. In these locations, the author is treated as a hero instead of a captive. Comprehensively, the book is a narration of the author’s experiences in these locations. The book has never been out of print since it was first published and it has also been replicated in music and films across the world (Swift 1).
The book 1984 is based on the ills of totalitarian governments by exposing the lack of privacy and freedom in an undemocratic state. George Orwell exposes the extremes of a totalitarian government by explaining that, authoritarian governments control the press and all existing literature in the state (Masterson 2). This can be evidenced from the books assertion that,
“Even the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was tolerant by modern standards. Part of the reason for this was that in the past no government had the power to keep its citizens under constant surveillance. The invention of print, however, made it easier to manipulate public opinion, and the film and the radio carried the process further. With the development of television, and the technical advance which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end” (Masterson 207).
The book goes on to state the moral dilemma brought about by totalitarianism and it further investigates if people were inherently born evil or not.
This paper explores the structure of the above mentioned books, based on their literary comparisons. Several aspects of the books will be analyzed, including their literary comparisons, structure and technique of presentation, authors’ personal experiences and background, contribution to literature and how the books may be perceived by the readers.
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Finally, this paper establishes if the books are effective in the conveyance of their messages; or if there is a significant difference in writing styles which complement or obstruct the main presentation of facts.
Complementarily, this paper aims to explain how the three books stand as works of literature and how they contribute to the noble field. In the same context, this paper explains the effect that the books achieve as different works of literature and if there are any special techniques used which make them achieve the desired effects.
Structure and Presentation of Facts
There is a big difference in the manner journalism and professional writing work in the context of the book half the sky how to change the world. This is because the two concepts are based on different philosophies. Journalism is based on the principle of informing the audience about events that occur in everyday life but professional writing is based on several objectives including the above mentioned (Arnold 1).
Professional writing is therefore broad and may even include fictitious elements of writing, which do not occur in the real world. However, journalism is purely based on the occurrence of real events and facts which transpire in today’s society. These are the same premises that guide journalists and professional writers. Indeed, the same principles guided Kristof and Wudunn, except for the fact that, though they were engaged in professional writing. A lot of journalistic influences can be evident in their writing.
For instance, the inclusion of figures in their book is an indication of the dominance of journalistic philosophies in their writing because journalism demands the support of ideas or concepts, with figures (Arnold 1). This practice is upheld in the book half the sky how to change the world because it is a crucial concept of journalism to uphold credibility by explaining the sources of information.
The same principle is also upheld under the premise of supporting facts through figures (and such like tools) because journalism is enshrined in the philosophies of proving facts and concepts. Kristof and Wudunn uphold the same concept in their book because they greatly rely on figures to support their facts. This fact can be evidenced from Wudunn’s assertion that,
“When you hear that 60 to 100 million females are missing in the current population, we thought the number compares in the scope and size and then you compare the slave trade at its peak in the 1780s, when there were 80,000 slaves transported from Africa to the New World, and you see there are now ten times that number of women trafficked across international borders, so you start to think you are talking about comparable weight” (Kristof and Wudunn 15).
The same back up of figures is seen from the assertion that,
“as many infant girls were dying in China through lack of access to healthcare as the up-to-800 protesters who died in Tiananmen. Kristof received a further shock in 1996 when he came face-to-face with girls being trafficked for sex in Cambodia” (Kristof and Wudunn 15).
Here, the strong reliance on figures is undisputed. This is a strategy in factual presentation which is backed by the journalism backgrounds of the two authors.
Half the Sky How to Change the World shares some similarities with the book Gulliver’s travel, based on the same structural and presentation issues. First, the book is similar to Gulliver’s travels because they are both based on experiences accrued from several trips across the globe.
Half the sky How to Change the World is based on the experiences of two journalists who were researching the extent that human trafficking was prevalent in the world. Gulliver’s travel is based on the experiences of Lemuel Gulliver, first as a surgeon and later as a captain of several ships. The literary structure of the books adds to the credibility of their analogies because they are both based on real-life experiences.
This concept adds to their plot, structure and technique because books which have been written based on real-life experiences tend to be highly sought, as opposed to fictional writing (Masterson 2). Also, it is very difficult to argue with facts, as opposed to imaginary concepts.
This argument adds to the articulation of facts and concepts presented in the two books because the authors are better placed to advance their concepts, based on their real-life experiences. Kristof and Wudunn employ their journalism skills to explain the human traffic trade as a true occurrence of the society.
Human trafficking is explained as an ongoing trade of young girls happening in the real world, without any fictitious undertones to it. The lack of a fictitious undertone is a great advantage that Kristof and Wudunn employ in their writing, thereby making it superior to other books (Arnold 2). Readers can therefore be guaranteed that Kristof and Wudunn’s work lack any instances of exaggeration of facts or inclusion of fictitious elements in their work.
This observation is contrary to conventional writing because conventional writers (from a non-journalistic background) normally have too much freedom in their writing and therefore, they are not required to uphold any standards of professionalism (at least regarding the inclusion of facts in their writing).
Often, conventional writers include fictitious elements in their writing, or they partially exaggerate figures to emphasize a given point. The resultant works are therefore bound to have various dynamics in the representation of information. Equally, the same information cannot be reliable for future research or other uses.
Daily Reporting As Opposed To Seasonal Reporting
Considering the earlier assertion that, journalism principles are based on the occurrence of everyday events, as opposed to occasional events, Wudunn is seen to steer her writing towards the same principles when she refers to the plight of young Asian girls who were trafficked for sex. Here, she explains that,
“We’ve thought a lot about the failure to see this. Partly, it is because the news is defined by what happens on a particular day, and a lot of the most important things in the world do not happen on a particular day” (Kristof and Wudunn 15).
Here, we see that Wuddun explains herself from the journalistic point of view by reporting on human trafficking as a daily occurrence rather than a phenomenon. Conventional writers explain their contents based on phenomena as opposed to daily occurrence of events. In the introductory part of the book, Kristof and Wudunn explain that, “Partly that is because we journalists tend to be good at covering events that happen on a particular day, but we slip at covering events that happen every day” (Kristof and Wudun 1).
The inclusion of ‘everyday writing’ elements in “Half the Sky How to Change the World” is therefore a significant journalistic feature of the book which enriches its contents. This fact is shared with the book, Gulliver’s Travels because the lead character in the book also narrates his daily experiences in different islands. The same similarity is however not seen in 1984.
Kristof and Wudunn write their book based on the journalism principle which aims at effecting change within the society. Gulliver’s Travels or 1984 may however be merely based on providing entertainment to the writers or may act as an informative tool. Nonetheless, journalism writing aims at implementing change, or at the very least, initiating it (Arnold 1).
Kristof and Wudunn’s experience as journalists seem to manifest this principle because they expose the human traffic trade, with the aim of initiating a change of attitude within the society which also aims at stopping the trade. For instance, Wudunn explains that, “If you are convinced you have stumbled across an enormous moral outrage; you cannot merely cast light on the subject. You have to do something to stop it. You have to effect change” (Kristof and Wudunn 29).
This assertion greatly affirms the principle of effecting change, which is enshrined in the principles of journalism. Journalism writing is not only aimed at informing people of the events occurring in day-to-day life because from a general point of view, journalism writing seems to demand actions from the stakeholders. Kristof and Wudunn do not shy away from engraving this concept in their book, thereby making it slightly different from 1984 or Gulliver’s Travels.
The Guardian also describes Kristof and Wudunn’s work as “a call to arms, a call for help, a call for contributions, and also a call for volunteers” (The Guardian 12). To affirm the same fact, we can see that, Kristof and Wudunn say, “We hope to recruit you, to join an incipient movement to emancipate women . Just open your heart and join in” (Kristof and Wudunn 145). Indeed, we can establish that, the two authors write the book with an agenda of seeking support for fighting human trafficking.
Considering Kristof and Wudunn have immense experience in journalism, their influence in this field cannot be ignored when analyzing their representation of facts and general information in the book, Half the Sky How to Change the World. It is also difficult to ignore the fact that, most of the information represented in the book is the product of investigative journalism which inspired Kristof and Wudunn to share their experiences about human trafficking in China, India, Japan and Africa (The Guardian 19).
The information contained in the book is therefore a summation of the investigative assignments of the two authors when they were on professional assignments in the above regions of the world. It is equally inevitable to note that, the book Half the Sky How to Change the World is based on investigative writing which is often more interesting, credible and reliable as opposed to information contained in 1984 or Gulliver’s Travels which lack investigative elements.
The Guardian explains that, Kristof and Wudunn read a lot of psychological papers to understand what gets people to join a given cause (in form of donations) (The Guardian 20). Here, it is understood that the two authors used a psychological strategy of individualism, where they highlight the plight of one girl to entice people to contribute towards eliminating human trafficking.
The Guardian explains that, the two authors used findings from previous studies in Africa where people were told to date $5 to alleviate the suffering of a girl called Rokia (in Mali), or contribute the same amount of money to alleviate world hunger in general. This study indicated that, there were twice as many contributions made to alleviate the plight of Rokia as opposed to the number of people who donated money to alleviate world hunger. The Guardian gives an example of another study where it explains that,
“In another study, people were asked to give $300,000 to fight cancer. One group was told the money would save the life of a single child, another that it would save eight children. Perversely, people gave almost twice as much to save just one child rather than eight” (The Guardian 20).
From this analysis, we can establish that, the authors employed investigative elements to write their book because the strategy of highlighting the plight of one girl is widely quoted in many psychological papers as the best tool to use to get people to join a given cause. In reference to Kristof and Wudunn, the Guardian agrees with this fact by stating that, “The authors have followed the lessons of these psychological studies. They do have statistics in the book, many of which are harrowing” (The Guardian 20).
To affirm this fact, we see that the book focuses on the plight of individual girls, like Mai who hails from Southern Punjab and also a victim of a gang rap from a group of men from a higher socio-economic status. The book also highlights the plight of Sunitha Krishnan, whom with the help of a little financial boost, managed to break-free from the human trafficking bondage to start her village school (The Guardian 23).
Over the Blue Moon also affirms that the book is dotted with many individual stories of young girls in Africa and Asia who have overcome insurmountable odds to become champions against human trafficking. Here, it is stated that,
“There is Rath in Cambodia, who escaped from the brothel she had been sold into and now runs a thriving retail business that supports her family. There is Mamitu, who grew up without an education in a remote village in Ethiopia and now trains surgeons in Addis Ababa” (Over the Blue Moon 2).
In an unrelated point of view, conventional writers normally write their books from one location and their information is mainly sourced from one source. However, Kristof and Wuddun employ a different approach in their writing because they sum their experiences from different continents and represent the information in one book.
This approach enriches their work. Though ordinary writers may also be journalists; journalists have an inclination towards investigating their information as opposed to merely reporting other people’s facts, or making up information from their imagination (Arnold 2). A professional writer is however inclined to concentrate on the correct use of words, grammar, syntax and suchlike guidelines of writing.
Throughout the chapters of their book, Kristof and Wudunn cite several case studies to explain their ideas. These case studies are a product of investigative journalism which is done in many parts of the world including Afghanistan, Rwanda, Cambodia, Congo, India and Burundi, so that they represent the gender rights violations that occur across the third world.
It is almost difficult to exclude a specific region of the third world from the findings because most of the countries sampled represent a specific region of this part of world, in one way or the other. Kristof and Wuddun therefore expose more substance to their writing which supersedes 1984 or Gulliver’s Travels.
Considering Kristof and Wuddun hail from a background of concrete journalism, the two authors are very crafty in the way they manage information because they aim to use the plight of women to elicit emotions that spin the audience into taking action about the human traffic trade.
This strategy is part of the principles of journalism which aims to make a change in the society by making people understand why they need to do so. The Guardian affirms that, “Kristof and Wudunn specifically wanted to avoid a numbing effect where readers would become so overwhelmed by the grimness and apparent hopelessness of the lives women lead that they would sink into depression, rather than leap into action” (The Guardian 28).
Random House Inc. also explains that, “Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and Wudunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope” (Random House Inc. 2). These assertions show the employment of journalism tact to elicit emotions from the readers. However, 1984 and Gulliver’s Travels do not bear emotive undertones
Influence of Dual Interpretations and Analysis
Many authors have established that, dual authorship offers several advantages in the development of literary works because it offers some sense of inspiration and challenge to writers who think alike, and even to those who do not (Divito Design 1).
On many occasions, writers who have adopted dual authorship have observed that dual authorship enables authors to transcend their own limitations through collaborative writing. However, in the same context, several authors observe that, collaborative writing offers new challenges to the same idea because authors employing this strategy are likely to experience difficulty which they would not have experienced while working alone (Divito Design 1).
The book Half the Sky How to Change the World is a product of dual authorship between Kristof and Wudunn, but as this section of the paper establishes, the co-authorship element which evident in this literary piece poses more advantages than disadvantages to the overall structure and quality of writing.
Considering the book Half the Sky How to Change the World is a product of an investigative work by two authors, the different voices included by the two authors from their different contributions to the same work improves their quality of writing. This is true because since the literary piece is aimed at exposing human trafficking as a social evil, there is bound to be varying societal and political undertones to the work.
This is evidently true. However, since the nature of the work is highly political and indeed controversial, the inclusion of different voices is bound to improve the overall quality of writing of the study. The collaboration of facts, ideas, figures and concepts by Kristof and Wudunn is a strategy that empowers their overall arguments in the study because if the same arguments were advanced by one author, it would be more difficult to believe the author, as opposed to a situation where there were two authors.
Since Half the Sky How to Change the World is also a call for the world to take action against the gender injustices occurring in the third world, the concept of co-authorship is highly strategic in exposing the gender injustices occurring in the world. Here, it is crucial to highlight the fact that, Wudunn’s input as a woman is highly effective in exposing the plight of women in general because she is female. Kristof could have not achieved the extent of efficiency his wife exposes women issues because of his nature as a man.
This is true because the book mainly focuses on the plight of girls in Africa and Asia who undergo excessive human right abuses such as gender discrimination, female genital mutilation, domestic abuse, rape and other female issues. Wudunn is able to expose this unbearable suffering that the girls experience, better than Kristof.
The nature of the book is therefore supported by the dual authorship of the two writers because the authors are able to achieve a high level of cohesion in exposing the gender injustices occurring in the third world. There would therefore be no better way of exposing gender injustices if the input of both male and female authors was never incorporated in the study.
There are certain instances where male and female issues were deeply explored such that, it would be almost impossible for any author of the same gender to portray correctly the true meaning of the idea. For instance, in a section of the book, it is stated, “The Huichol (a Mexican tribe) believed that the pain of childbirth should be shared, so the mother would hold on to a string tied to her husband’s testicles.
With each painful contraction, she would give the string a yank so that the man could share the burden” (Kristof and Wudun 98). Here, there is a strong attribution of male and female pain which would be explained from a hybrid (gender unbiased) point of view. The fact that Kristof and Wudun are from different genders provide a balanced analysis of the main issues in the book because if the book was written by only one author, there is a high likelihood that there may be gender bias.
The fact that Half the Sky How to Change the World was written by two authors is a great strength of the book because the book contains information regarding various topics regarding human trafficking.
For instance, human trafficking is not only shrouded in gender disregard because it also contains information regarding political insensitivity, societal neglect, economic disempowerment, educational discrimination and such like factors. From this point of view, we can understand that, the inclusion of multiple authors in the development of the book is advantageous to the overall quality of the book because several issues can be analyzed deeply.
For instance, as stated earlier in this study, the book is deeply analytical of the gender issues plaguing women in the third world. Wudunn does an excellent job in highlighting these issues. However, Kristof does an equally good job in exposing the connection that human trafficking share with economic and political dynamics of the third world.
He exposes the economic neglect of women and the resultant vulnerability of the same. He explains that this issue exposes them to human trafficking. The lack of education and abuse of human rights, which is associated with a lack of education is also exposed as a societal problem fueling the human trafficking trade. In this analysis, both authors are able to give their contributions regarding the same.
However, Kristof does an excellent job in highlighting the political tools that enable human trafficking to thrive in the third world. Here, he exposes the fact that, the police, who are mandated to safeguard the rights of the citizens, sit back and protect the ‘pimps’ who steer the human trafficking trade by ensuring that whenever auctions go on, the girls do not escape into freedom (The Guardian 9).
Here, he exposes the contribution that the political wing of the government plays in enabling the human trafficking trade to thrive. Comprehensively, the book contains various issues affecting human trafficking and the same issues are best explained from the different point of views shared by the two authors.
Politics and Morality
Half the skies how to change the world and Gulliver’s Travel share some similarities in the fact that, they are very political books. Half the Sky is political in the sense that, it exposes the political rot that supports human trafficking and child slavery. Moreover, the book points fingers at the governments in the respective countries sampled and blames the authorities for letting human trafficking go on unabated.
Moreover, the book tends to ignore most of the economic and social factors that surround human trafficking and concentrates on the political aspects of human trafficking. Gulliver’s travel is not any different. The book focuses on the European government in a satirical way. This issue (among other political factors) paint the book to have a strong political undertone as is discussed by Swift
“This is the problem with politics in Lilliput: keeping the Emperor happy often means lying, flattery, or hypocrisy. And acting according to a pretty basic moral rule – do not make people slaves – makes the Emperor angry. Politics and morality do not seem to be compatible” (Swift 2).
Moreover, the book exposes the petty differences that exist between religions, and proposes an ironic perspective of human psychology and behavior as ridiculous. In some respects, the book also exposes the optimistic account of human capability. This is explained below
“Gulliver seems to believe that, the degenerate nature of man, (in other words, the tendency of human society to get worse and worse as time goes on) is necessarily linked to politics and the gradual increase of [political] party and faction. The more politics there are; the worse a society is, according to Gulliver’s logic” (Swift 29).
This fact is supported by the book’s reference to human morality as it debates if men are born inherently corrupt, or if moral decadence is part of human nature and an acquired attribute. In fact, Swift views the political nature of the book as the main theme of the book, alongside morality and the arguments between modernity and ancient concepts (Swift 2). The focus on morality is also strongly investigated as a common theme in the book’s plot as is discussed by Divito Design which ponders
“Pre-Houyhnhnm Gulliver seems to believe that the Brobdingnagian King would learn more about morality if he were exposed to a range of the politer countries in Europe. But by the end of the book, he wants to remain isolated from mankind with the Houyhnhnms. Why might a country’s isolation contribute to its moral development?” (Divito Design 4).
From this moral debate (among other issues), Half the Sky how to change the world bears a lot of similarity in structure and technique with Gulliver’s Travels.
George Orwell’s 1984 also share this similarity because its plot revolves around the extremes of politics. For instance, the author explains that, man can be an end to himself by exposing the influence totalitarianism has on the society. In fact, Masterson explains that most of the book, 1984, is hinged on explaining the influence that politics has on the human intellect (Masterson 4). This is the same framework that the author uses to explain that, morality is affected by the extremes of totalitarianism.
To some degree, the author also inclines to share the same view as those expressed in Gulliver’s travels because the author highlights the moral decadence in the society and how it affects the society. George Orwell explains this decadence in the context of totalitarian regimes. Nonetheless, it is important to note that, the three books are strongly hinged on moral arguments regarding the society and about man in particular. This argument is especially vivid in “half the Sky” and 1984.
Contribution to Literature
The book Half the Sky How to Change the World is a great contribution to world literature because it exposes the history of gender discrimination and human rights violations that have been going on unabated in the 21st century. The immense contribution of this book cannot be underestimated because it adds to existing volumes of literature regarding the abuse and exploitation of women, but more importantly, it exposes how investigative journalism plays a huge role towards exposing the human right abuses in present-day society.
This contribution is hereby exposed because most of the global literature regarding the same topic has mainly been done by conventional authors and the dynamism of perspectives such as that exposed in the book is rarely encountered. Moreover, few literature books contain the contribution of two world renowned journalists such as Kristof and Wudunn.
The two authors bring an interesting twist to the understanding of gender abuse and exploitation which is already contained in existing books of world literature. The uniqueness of Half the Sky How to Change the World is hereby exposed because its authors hail from different genders and therefore, they bring a comprehensive insight into the factors affecting gender abuse, exploitation and discrimination in present-day society. Random House Inc. affirms that,
“Half the Sky is a passionate and persuasive plea to all of us to rise up and say ‘No more!’ to the 17th-century abuses to girls and women in the 21st-century world. This is a book that pierces your heart and arouses your conscience. It is a powerful piece of journalism by two masters of the craft who are tireless in their pursuit of one of the most shameful conditions of our time” (Random House Inc. 7).
The books, Gulliver’s Travels and Half the Sky how to change the world can be perceived as books that strive to increase awareness about various issues in the society.
Half the Sky how to change the world can be easily perceived by readers as a literary excerpt aimed at increasing awareness about human trafficking. The fact that the book greatly increases awareness about human trafficking is further supported by the numerous statistics about human trafficking and child slavery in Asia and Africa. The book further goes on to explain how human trafficking comes about and how it thrives in today’s society.
The book formally shows issues like politics and economics and how they support human trafficking/ slavery. Gulliver’s Travels is a form of exploratory book that shows its readers various differences in the political, economic and social lives of various groups of people around the globe. For instance, the book exposes the religious differences that exist among various groups or communities of the world. The author infers that, the differences among the religions described are very petty.
In this regard, the author arouses people’s awareness about the similarities and differences among various religions of the world. George Orwell’s 1984 can however be perceived by readers as a book centered on political action (Masterson 2). The book is somewhat written to expose the dangers of politics by criticizing the political ideology of totalitarianism. The book is therefore strongly inclined to explain the negative aspects of totalitarianism as a political action tool.
This paper exposes the dynamism that Kristof and Wudunn bring to the development of literature and how their book share several similarities with Gulliver’s Travel and 1984. This paper explains that, half the sky how to change the world is similar to Gulliver’s travel because they are written from the authors’ real-life experiences.
However, these two books share their political nature with George Orwell’s 1984. Also from the same analysis, this paper identifies that, the three books share a strong similarity in their structure and presentation of facts, because they are based on factual representation of information. Therefore, they are believable and easy to sell. Comprehensively, we can see that, though the books are based on different ideologies and written about different concepts (or topics), they share similarities in presentation and writing styles.
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