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Download The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Power of Half: One Familys Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back Audiobook, by Kevin Salwen Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (630 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kevin Salwen, Hannah Salwen Narrator: Fred Sanders, Jen Taylor Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2010 ISBN: 9780061969324
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When fourteen-year-old Hannah Salwen saw a homeless man at the same instant she spotted a man driving a glistening Mercedes, she said, “Dad, if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal.” Acting on her urge to do something, Hannah’s family made the extraordinary decision to sell their Atlanta mansion, buy a house half its size, and give half of the sale price to a worthy charity. Their plan eventually took them across the globe and well out of their comfort zone. In the end they learned that they had the power to change a little corner of the world.

Warm, funny, and deeply moving, The Power of Half is the story of how one family grew closer as they discovered that half could be so much more.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Power of Half will give you a whole new perspective on your life.”

    Jeffrey Zaslow coauthor of The Girl From Ames

  • “Fred Sanders and Jen Taylor fit the roles of father and daughter well. Sanders conveys the right balance of altruism and doubt. He also comes up with dead-on voices for eager daughter Hannah and skeptical son Joseph during the family discussions of the project. With youthful exuberance Jen Taylor reads Hannah’s advice on instilling charitable behavior in families. The Salwens’ rare commitment to helping others, unshaken by the recent drop in home prices, will give listeners much to consider.” 

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dawn | 2/20/2014

    " There were a lot of things I liked about this book, and just as many I did not like. The entire family was really involved with this project, and I enjoyed reading about the evaluations of the different charities. However, this is a very affluent family, and this is not a model for most of us on chartiable giving. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark Ballinger | 2/4/2014

    " As expected, the authors make a few assumptions about life that really reflect their very fortunate circumstances. But, in writing through the process of deciding to whom to donate money, and what else a family can do to alleviate global poverty, this is a valuable book. Quick read, and I'd recommend it to any family that wants kids to understand donations. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Krista | 1/19/2014

    " Fun to read together with your kids...makes you think about your own life and how to make do with less, and why. Heard this father/daughter co-author team speak last year - really inspiring! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 LaLa | 1/17/2014

    " Yes this book has problems with tone and yes you get that when you are writing out of an idealized awakening, but I found myself liking the family despite themselves and cheering when they grew and understood something new about the way the world works. Just couldn't bring myself to finish it... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marianna | 12/20/2013

    " This book was a mixed bag for me. On one hand I admire the family for taking the initiative at the behest of their 14-year old daughter to attempt to make a difference in the world. On the other hand, the tone of sacrifice was annoying. The Salwens made the decision to leave behind their 6,500 sf, 2 million dollar house for a "smaller", "non-descript" house. In doing a little research I discovered that this new home was valued at nearly 1 million dollars with nearly 3,000 sf., and I don't know if wood floors, granite tops and a seperate TV/game room actually qualifies a house as non-descript. This family continued to have their children in very expensive private schools, take family vacations that the average person can only dream of and have the children participate in expensive club sports leagues all while carrying two houses because the first one takes two years to sell. To my mind there wasn't a whole lot of actual sacrifice. Did they do something a little non-traditional (not only moving, but giving away $800,000)? Yes. Did they do something that most people of their ilk wouldn't do? Maybe and probably. My only wish is that this story had been told in a less self-serving way because really it is a great, inspirational story. The whole saga begins to unfold when Hannah, the 14-year old daughter, notices the juxtaposition of a street corner panhandler on the streets of Atlanta and an obviously wealthy man driving a Mercedes. She queries her father about how the persumably homeless man might be better off if the Mercedes driver drove a less expensive car. A valid question. Joan, the matriarch of the family, poses the question of sacrificing something from Hannah's own life, perhaps their large, stately home, at dinner one night, with the idea being they would use part of the proceeds to fund a charitable project. Hannah is eager and eventually the entire family is on board. The story unfolds as they move, make decisions about how and where to use their $800,000 and travel to Ghana to offer "support" to the people there. Hannah sounds like a fine young woman, however I can't help but wonder if she really answered her initial question. Her life is still pretty fantastic compared to the majority of Atlantians and I can't help but wonder if she and her family couldn't make an even bigger difference by making some real sacrifices. Perhaps it isn't fair of me to ask this of the Salwen's since I'm not doing it myself, but then again they did write the book claiming major sacrifice on their part. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Oh, and I can't help but ask what was up with the constant references to product names: Land's End polo, Hamilton Beach coffee maker, Under Armour shirt, Eggo waffle, Scion, REI wicking pants?? Was it a way of saying "look, no BMW or Ralph Lauren or Miele here? Or did they get paid for putting these names in? It was a little odd. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth Simons | 12/18/2013

    " Very hearfelt advocate for charity, money and time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greg | 11/30/2013

    " I liked elements of this book but there were pieces that still bothered me. Obviously, I'm for service and citizenship and anything that will get people moving in that direction is a good thing. This is a good story, at times motivating. For me, though, I found the Salwens hard to relate to. They try and downplay the fact that the house they are willing to downsize from is 6000 square feet but it really comes home for me when, toward the end of the book, they mention the people that come and clean their NEW house, the one they moved into as part of this project. I'm not saying the story is only valid if they rid themselves of all their possessions, I think what they have done is wonderful. I'm just saying it's a little hard for me to relate to and so more difficult to really give myself over to the story entirely. Aside from the message of service, I really appreciate the concepts related to family unity that came out of the project. Most of the "Hannah's Take" sections seemed kind of repetitive but I did appreciate the "Activity" sections. Though usually cheesy, I thought they worked here as good concrete ideas that brought the whole thing closer to reality for me. Overall, not a bad read, and I do appreciate the commitment the family made to inclusion of all family members and really exploring this social justice issues inherent in the work they were doing rather than just donating money to charity. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karah | 11/29/2013

    " I really liked the idea (and actions) behind this book. However, reading (listening) to it was a little lacking. I quite enjoyed it for the first couple chapters, but it just dragged on too long with far too many unnecessary details. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amber P | 11/26/2013

    " interesting concept...but i think a lot of people might read it and think "i can't do this" but they do address that and try to explain how you can do it on your level! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jesseb | 11/14/2013

    " thought provoking take on quantifiable charity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mairin | 10/8/2013

    " Interesting book - a little outrageous if you ask me, but makes you think about what you can do... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kieran | 10/3/2013

    " LOVED. Everyone should read. If you know a lot about philanthropy, it may seem "basic" but still inspiring. Warning: very earnest. Not a snarky book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy Sullivan | 7/6/2013

    " Very interesting. Worth reading! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Holly | 4/7/2013

    " Great ideas, but a little pretentious for my tastes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annie | 3/22/2013

    " Great story that challenges you to think about what you do (or could do in the future) to help others. A good example of family unity and how serving together can bring you closer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Zach Brown | 1/4/2012

    " Makes me think about how I spend my money, and what it says about who I am and my priorities. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ann | 10/27/2011

    " Socialist propoganda. Blah. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laine | 10/5/2011

    " An inspiring story told in insipid and sappy prose. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annie | 5/5/2011

    " Great story that challenges you to think about what you do (or could do in the future) to help others. A good example of family unity and how serving together can bring you closer. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nicole | 4/25/2011

    " An interesting premise, but a boring book. It was pretty much what I'd expected, though, so I'm not sure why I picked it up. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Radine Trees | 4/6/2011

    " Wonderful message, and the additions by Salwen's teen daughter add depth. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sareen | 3/17/2011

    " Interesting concept, great story for the family, but not written really well. It did make me think about my own life and how I can live more simple. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy Graham | 3/11/2011

    " A thoughtful and candid account of assessing one's own privilege -- and opting to measure life by how much one GIVES rather than how much one possesses or consumes. It would be fascinating if more of us took this challenge instead of making excuses or accusing those who do. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 1/13/2011

    " Good intentions, good results in Ghana, and good increase in family interaction... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Juliana | 1/3/2011

    " great beginning, horrible ending... towards 3/4 of the book they start to get so self centered that is no longer interesting or a inspiring story. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Chrissy | 11/13/2010

    " Did this family really even appreciate the position they were in, to have such an extravagant degree of wealth in the first place to give? "

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About the Author

Kevin Salwen was a reporter and editor at the Wall Street Journal for more than eighteen years. After that, he started a magazine, Motto. He has served on the board of Habitat for Humanity in Atlanta and works with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

About the Narrators

Fred Sanders, winner of three Earphones Awards, has received critics’ praise for his audio narrations that range from nonfiction, memoir, and fiction to mystery and suspense. He been seen on Broadway in The Buddy Holly Story, in national tours for Driving Miss Daisy and Big River, and on such television shows as Seinfeld, The West Wing, Will and Grace, Numb3rs,Titus, and Malcolm in the Middle. His films include Sea of Love, The Shadow, and the Oscar-nominated short Culture. He is a native New Yorker and Yale graduate.

Jen Taylor is an American voice actress best known for her role as Cortana in various Halo games, Zoey in Left 4 Dead, and the Xbox 360 game 1 vs. 100. In addition to her voice-over work, Taylor is also an accomplished stage actress and has appeared in a number of films and television series.