Strangers Drowning Book Summary - Strangers Drowning Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Strangers Drowning summary

Larissa MacFarquhar

Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help

3.9 (17 ratings)
18 mins
Table of Contents

    Strangers Drowning
    Summary of 8 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 8

    Altruism is indiscriminate and can be of great benefit to the altruistic person.

    What does it mean to be altruistic? Essentially, it means being helpful to others even if it causes you hardship. But it’s more than just taking a minute to help an old lady cross the street or jumping into a lake to prevent someone from drowning.

    True altruism means helping others, even if it puts your own life at risk.

    And this duty to help extends to all human beings, including your enemies.

    Dorothy Granada is one such altruist: in 2010, the 80-year-old nurse opened a clinic in Nicaragua where bloody conflicts were still going on between two opposing political factions, the governing Sandinistas and the rebel militia known as the Contras.

    While many of the clinic’s employees believed they should only treat Sandinistas and their families, Granada felt otherwise. Despite the fact that Granada and her staff were close to the Sandanistas, and that healing Contras could lead to the deaths of more Sandanistas, Granada believed that it was her duty as a nurse to help everyone, including wounded Contras, even if this meant that she was putting herself in danger. Granada was truly altruistic.

    In fact, helping the enemy can be of great benefit to the altruistic person: one day, a Contra rebel came seeking treatment at Dorothy’s clinic. The rebel had an impassive and scary expression that Dorothy recognized as the face of someone who had tortured and killed. But he also had a bullet lodged in his head and needed help, and Dorothy’s clinic was the only place in the area where he could go.

    Indeed, Dorothy healed his wound, and it turned out that being altruistic was the right decision.

    Later on, the Contras were planning an assault on the clinic. But the rebel Dorothy had taken care of intervened, sparing the clinic from attack.

    It was altruism that ultimately saved the clinic and, perhaps, the life of Dorothy Granada and her staff.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Strangers Drowning?

    Key ideas in Strangers Drowning

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Strangers Drowning about?

    Strangers Drowning (2015) tells the amazing stories of people who decided to put an end to selfish behavior and devote their lives to helping others. Find out what it takes to lead a life of altruism and selflessness, and the price people pay to make a difference in the world.

    Best quote from Strangers Drowning

    Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams. – Fyodor Dostoevsky

    —Larissa MacFarquhar
    example alt text

    Who should read Strangers Drowning?

    • Good samaritans who want to understand their desire to help
    • Cynics who want to be more altruistic
    • Students or business people looking for meaningful work

    About the Author

    Larissa Macfarquhar is an editor and writer who has been working for The New Yorker since 1998. She has written many features on famous personalities, including Quentin Tarantino and Diane von Furstenberg. The daughter of diplomats, MacFarquhar lives in New York and Strangers Drowning is her first book.

    Categories with Strangers Drowning

    Books like Strangers Drowning

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    27 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial