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The Third Wave: A Volunteer Story

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  237 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Alison Thompson, a filmmaker living in New York City, was enjoying Christmas with her boyfriend in 2004 when she saw the news reports online: a 9.3 magnitude earthquake had struck the sea near Indonesia, triggering a massive tsunami that hit much of southern Asia. As she watched the death toll climb, Thompson had one thought: She had to go help. A few years earlier, she ha ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Spiegel & Grau
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Volunteers - Memoirs
7th out of 53 books — 8 voters
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Ordinal Numbers
164th out of 229 books — 10 voters


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Community Reviews

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Miko Lee
Sep 25, 2011 Miko Lee rated it it was ok
Hmmm. I'm conflicted about this true story of Alison Thompson and her commitment to disaster volunteering. On one hand this is a remarkable tale of the Margaret Mead adage that one stone in a pond makes many ripples. Clearly she has impacted thousands of people and made profound change. Clearly she is motivated and altruistic.

Alican is an Australian living in New York during 9/11 who is drawn to the ground zero where as a trained nurse she works for weeks assisting people. Later she gives her l
...more
Cat Chiappa
Jul 16, 2011 Cat Chiappa rated it liked it
I was really esxcited for this book, but finished it feeling a little disappointed. There were some really good anecdotal stories, but overall I was just left feeling that it was very chronological...e.g we did this...and then this and then this.

I am amazed at all of the wonderful work the author did. However, I was a little put off by the fact that she was constantly asking for donations. While I understand it to a point, there was just a point in the book where I got tired of it and wished tha
...more
Liralen
Disappointing.

The author very clearly did some incredible things, but the book reads more like a set of notes than a cohesive story. I don't know how much work was done by Thompson and how much was done by her ghostwriter, but somebody wasn't picking up the slack.

It would have been a stronger book if she had narrowed the scope of her focus. The end - which was about her relief efforts in Haiti - was rushed and gave no sense of any individuals there, and the sections about Sri Lanka (the bulk of
...more
Becky
May 27, 2015 Becky rated it it was ok
This book began on a high note for me (the chronicle of Alison's experiences as a volunteer post 9/11 was fascinating), but it quickly became problematic. For one thing, her descriptions of and interactions in Sri Lanka were disturbing to me. This story felt very "us vs. them" although it was clearly not her intention, the way that she described her experiences and discussed the way people in Sri Lanka and Haiti interacted with her made it feel that way.

As others have mentioned, this book does
...more
Jayjay
Apr 20, 2015 Jayjay rated it it was amazing
Alison Thompson is more couragious and brave than anyone I know on this earth and someone after reading this book I greatly admire. Alison overcame a massive obstacle in her early adult years when she was in a accident that claimed the use of her legs. After much hardship Alison learned to walk again and swore to make something of her life as a result and boy did she do that.

Alison flew from her native Australia to New York where she knew noone and started her life over. It was during Alison's t
...more
Becky
Jul 01, 2011 Becky rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I was chosen to receive this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. Thank You!


You have to hate when you go on vacation and forget to bring along the book you are currently reading. This review would have been shared much sooner if I hadn’t left the book behind. Can you believe my husband wouldn’t turn around and drive home to get it?

Alison Thompson is a true inspiration. The fact that she was willing to drop everything and run to the aid of others with no thought of her own needs is vener
...more
Corinne
Jun 10, 2011 Corinne rated it it was amazing
I was hooked from the first few pages when Alison describes how she rushed down to Ground Zero shortly after it happened. I actually had tears in my eyes while I was reading her descriptions. It may have been an emotional day for me, or it could have been the sheer horror of what she was describing. I had never read about how truly gruesome it was down there - mostly because I just didn't want to know.

The book emphasizes how anyone can volunteer to make a difference in the world. It is rare that
...more
Flannery
Oct 16, 2011 Flannery rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, loved, memoir
So much to say about this one! Told in three parts centered around three catastrophes, the Australian-born author starts the book right in the middle of the 9/11 tragedy. Literally, the book opens with her describing her rollerblading from her apartment straight to Ground Zero, drawn to help in any way she can. She leaves her rollerblades by a wall just off the West Side Highway, demands a pet store clerk surrender his shoes to her, and, armed with nothing but a first aid kit, a small bottle of ...more
amber
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

It took a long time to decide what rating to give it. I kept going back and forth between 2 and 3 stars. Here are some of the things I really didn't like about it.

1. I HATE the cover. The 230 page book is 150 pages of writing about her work in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami, 40 pages of writing about volunteering at ground zero after 9/11, 20 pages of writing about her work in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, 15 pages of here's how you ca
...more
Megan
May 03, 2011 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, must-reads
I first got this book as an advanced uncorrected proof via goodreads in 2011 and haven't read it till now. I have to say I admire Alison very much for her work. It has been a dream of mine to do international volunteer for years and this books only encourages me more. I enjoyed her stories from her different experience a lot and she has some great advice for anyone seeking international volunteer work. However, the version of the book I read, which again was an advanced uncorrected proof, needed ...more
Sherri Robinson
Jul 04, 2015 Sherri Robinson rated it it was amazing
This book caught my interest on the first page with the author roller blading to Ground Zero with a back pack of medical supplies just as a citizen volunteer. She worked for a year at Ground Zero first with the citizen responders, then the Red Cross, and lastly the Salvation Army while the rubble was cleared. She opened my eyes to how anyone can help--not just trained medical personnel. People cleaned toilets, emptied trash, washed saline into the eyes of iron workers, made coffee, delivered foo ...more
Nicola
Apr 24, 2013 Nicola rated it it was ok
I had high expectations for this book...perhaps too high. The story itself was an interesting and honest account of what really happens to people after a natural disaster, and opened my eyes to a lot of things. However I thought the writing was quite poor and matter of fact, and I didn't find it overly engaging. I also felt like the author talked about her accomplishments as an individual a lot rather than what they did as a team, perhaps this was unintentional but it was a little off putting.
T
...more
Julia
Nov 11, 2011 Julia rated it it was ok
Received this through Goodreads First Reads, so I'm reviewing this for free.

Found it interesting, if a bit too flat for my taste. I'm actually in the Public Health field and have been taking a emergency preparedness and disaster response class lately, so it was interesting to view the subject from a different angle. I think it would have been more interesting if she had included some more clinical information to give readers more than just a first-person view of the subject (e.g. psych data on c
...more
Wendy Tarlow
Jan 09, 2013 Wendy Tarlow rated it it was amazing
Started reading this after meeting Alison on FB through friends after we all became friends through Sandy Relief orgs and were scrambling to organize different missions. She is the real deal and reading her book on and off through the last couple of months was not only insightful but inspiring. It left me wanting more. I admire her tremendously. She's still at it and hasn't taken a break and still totally involved with Haiti. She is also working on book two which I can't wait to read. Definitely ...more
Lizzie
Sep 03, 2011 Lizzie rated it it was amazing
This is a moving and uplifting story of one woman making a difference in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world. There were some passages where I felt that the prose could have used a little more polish, but despite this the story is very arresting and carries you along: you can't help but be fascinated by Thompson's incredible experiences and commitment to her cause. It's inspiring and confronting; it encourages you to think how you would behave in similar situations yourself. It's a bo ...more
Sue
Apr 07, 2014 Sue rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book even though the content was hard to read at times. Alison is a pretty inspirational person.
Sharna Moffat
Feb 15, 2014 Sharna Moffat rated it it was amazing
Love this book! Absolutely marvellous! I love what she did to help out thousands of people in need. Truly inspiring...
Kimber Burgess
Jun 23, 2015 Kimber Burgess rated it really liked it
I appreciate her honesty about what the villagers really thought of her work. Easy read.
kaitlyn
Aug 03, 2011 kaitlyn rated it liked it
I was immediately drawn to this book when I saw it and I whizzed through the first half in just a few hours right after I got it. After the first rush was over, I started getting a little annoyed by the writing style and the organization of the story. I kept with it though, because the story itself was still interesting and important. Once we got to the Haiti section, I fell back into the groove with the story. It still managed to inspire me despite the choppy bits, so I think it accomplished it ...more
Bookwyrmgyrl
This book caught me with its first sentence and I did not want to put it down, because it's true. I was fascinated and couldn't wait to read what happened to Thompson next. I felt like I was really there with her.

I also really liked the her writing style and the way she got straight to the main story and doesn't dilly dally around with pointless exposition.

It opened my eyes to disaster situations. I also admire her willingness to jump in and help - that is an inspiration.
Jenny
Jul 15, 2011 Jenny rated it liked it
This is a free book from the Goodreads First Reads giveaways.
The Third Wave refers to the volunteers who came to help after the 2 Asian tsunami waves of December 26, 2004. This book tells the story of Alison Thompson who volunteered her help following disasters (9/11, in Sri Lanka after the Asian tsunamis, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake). The descriptions of the disasters and recovery efforts were vivid and definitely made me admire Ms. Thompson's altruism and bravery.
Cindy
Apr 06, 2012 Cindy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-read
The author of this book is an inspiration with the unselfish giving of herself to those in need due to devastating circumstances; Sept 11th, the tsunami in Sri Lanka, and the earthquake in Haiti. The world would be a better place if there were more people like her who think of others before they think of themselves! I am giving this book 4 stars not because it is a masterpiece of literature but because it is a masterpiece of humanity, of a giving soul.
mia
Oct 31, 2012 mia rated it really liked it
I loved reading about Thompson's volunteer adventures! My two problems was that at some parts there seemed to be unnecessary information about her own personal life and that she appeared to be a little self-righteous about her good deeds. But other than that I loved it. It has inspired to me to sometime in the future volunteer and help third world countries :)
Alison
Feb 25, 2016 Alison rated it really liked it
A very interesting story of this woman's journey through volunteering. Beginning with NYC 9/11 and ending with the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Most of the story takes place in Sri Lanka where she and her boyfriend go after hearing that a 9.3 magnitude earthquake had struck the sea near Indonesia, triggering a massive tsunami that hit much of southern Asia.
Ann
Sep 12, 2011 Ann rated it it was ok
The beginning section about Thompson's volunteering at Ground Zero was gripping. The section about volunteering in Sri Lanka following the tsunami was good, but got a little long and whiny. The third part about her volunteering in Haiti seemed preachy and there was a lot of name-dropping. Overall, started out very promising, but ended disappointingly.
Melissa
Sep 13, 2012 Melissa rated it liked it
Thompson isn't a great writer, but her experiences and dedication to voluntarism are very powerful. So many of us walk around every day without any thought of what it truly means to be a victim of disaster (myself included), and this book was a jolt into thinking deeper about Sri Lanka and Haiti, and the terrible aftermath they are still dealing with.
Lindsay
Jun 20, 2012 Lindsay rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The story of the author, Alison, as she is a volunteer first at the 9/11 site, then in Sri Lanka after the tsunami, then in Haiti after the earthquake. A very interesting firsthand account of what such volunteering is like. Only detractor is that her tone got kind of grating sometimes.
Amanda Racanelli
Sep 06, 2013 Amanda Racanelli rated it liked it
Wonderful story of true giving from the heart! From Ground Zero, to tsunami ridden Indonesia, to earthquake stricken Haiti; Allison has experienced it all. Love, heartbreak, and disaster surrounded her for months and months.
Caitlin
May 13, 2011 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a goodreads give away. With what has happened in Japan and the mid-west I think it's important to learn how we can help. One person's story can inspire thousands to voulnteer.
Elysia
Jan 11, 2013 Elysia rated it it was amazing
One of the most inspiring books I've ever read. Alison's story motivated my husband and I to immediately embark on a volunteer venture simply from reading her remarkable story. An absolute must read!
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