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Book reviews for "Sale,_Kirkpatrick" sorted by average review score:

Human Scale
Published in Paperback by Perigee (1982)
Author: Kirkpatrick Sale
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A Needed Gospel: Get this book back in print!
Since the Small/Beautiful/Sensual societies we create in the post-corporate world should directly reflect the democratic will of each of our families, communities and bioregions, there is little point in pushing one-size-fits-all paradigms. You don't need a doctor to tell you how to enjoy your health after the plague is past. As long as we keep the "pathological scale" problem in mind and simply refuse existence to vast hierarchic entities, a diversity of congenial new cultures is thinkable, desirable, probably inevitable. But we have learned a lot about ourselves as a species in the last few thousand years, and that history must be consulted when building our brave new worlds. Kirkpatrick Sale offers an invaluable review of that history in "Human Scale" and clearly outlines what has worked and what hasn't since the days of ancient Greece. His primary conclusion is predictable - ..., but the historical insights he offers into our unsung successes both amaze and encourage. Read this book! You will feel a lot better about both the past and the future.

A life-changing book
I've been a voracious reader ever since I learned to read almost 50 years ago, so that adds up to at least several thousand books. Out of all of those, there were perhaps half a dozen which permanently changed my life, and this is one of them. (If you really care to know what the others were, then e-mail me and I'll tell you, LOL.) Sale begins with the simplest possible premise: that all human efforts should be measured and evaluated in terms of how they increase human happiness, comfort and convenience. That idea seems too obvious to require discussion, and yet Sale demonstrates that in almost every aspect of our culture, we have ignored that principle. He then describes what would have to be done in order to bring our homes, furniture, neighborhoods, etc. into conformance with the greatest comfort and happiness for human beings. It's one of the most fascinatingly thoughtful books I have ever read, and I hope it comes back into print soon.

Life-changing book
This book changed my life. I had always had a vague feeling that a city, a house, a chair could be too large, too small or just right, but I did not realize anyone had carefully quantified just what is the best size for these things until I read this book. It is because of this book that I moved to a town of 35,000 people, and have been delighted with that choice for the last 10 years

Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision
Published in Paperback by University of Georgia Press (2000)
Author: Kirkpatrick Sale
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an antidote to rootlessness
If you've come to suspect that most of the world's problems--pollution, warfare, crime, transnational piracy, mental illness--are inherent in a civilization in decline, you might like this vision of small, face-to-face communities living in respectful accord with the natural world.

The author makes the same point as ecopsychologists and the great whale researcher Roger Payne: built by millions of years of evolution to live in close contact with the wilderness, we who have penned ourselves behind fences and buildings carry with us a ten-thousand-year-old wound....a self-inflicted wound of aching alienation (hence our tendency to alienate--to marginalize--other people).

Read this book, then tour the decidedly un-zoolike San Diego Wild Animal Park while seeing how you feel there. For some this might offer a glimpse of a sanity so centering that you can feel it throughout your body.

A remedy for short-sighted environmental policies
Kirkpatrick Sale has written a vision of the future that should be drilled into politicians' subconscious and taught in grade school. Sustainable, sane, ecologically minded bioregions. I was particularly struck by his definition of "querencia"--"a deep, quiet sense of inner well-being that comes from knowing a particular place of the earth, its diurnal and seasonal patterns, its fruits and scents, its history and its part in your history . . . where, whenever you return to it, your soul releases an inner sigh of recognition and relaxation." Sale is a wonderful writer, balanced in perspective, and able to distill complex problems into a form that the average mind can comprehend, despite all the arguments pro and con. Read it.

Turtle Talk: Voices for a Sustainable Future (The New Catalyst Bioregional Series)
Published in Paperback by New Society Pub (1990)
Authors: Judith Plant, Christopher Plant, and Kirkpatrick Sale
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Visions for saving Turtle Island
First published in 1990, Turtle Talk was the first book in The New Catalyst's Bioregional Series, a series of books that are "designed not for those content with merely saving what's left, but those forward-looking folks with abundant energy for life, upon whom the future of Earth depends." Aside from the Forward by Kirkpatrick Sale and the Introduction by Christopher Plant, in which he describes the process by which The New Catalyst magazine came to fruition in the mid-1980s, the book consists of interviews conducted with a diverse group of people, all of whom provide meaningful and enlightening insight into the state of the Environment (in 1990), what initiatives should be taken in order to essentially save our planet, and the importance of adopting a bioregional worldview in order to do so. In order to provide you with a better sense of the contents of the Turtle Talk without going into a lengthy analysis, I will simply list the people interviewed and the title that the Plants bequeathed the respective interviews:

Gary Snyder: "Regenerate Culture!"
Peter Berg: "Bioregional and Wild! A New Cultural Image..."
Starhawk: "Bending the Energy: Spirituality, Politics and Culture"
George Woodcock: "Mutual Aid: The Seed of the Alternative"
Susan Griffin: "Celebrating All of Life"
Dave Foreman: "Becoming the Forest In Defence of Itself"
John Seed: "Deep Ecology Down Under"
Marie Wilson: "Wings of the Eagle"
George Watts: "Working Together: Natives, Non-Natives and the Future"
Caroline Estes: "Consensus and Community"
Freeman House: "Salmon and Settler: Toward a Culture of Reinhabitation"
Susan Meeker-Lowry: "Breaking free: Building Bioregional Economies"
Murray Bookchin: "Cities, Councils and Confederations"

It is interesting to read these interviews well over a decade after the book was first published. They present a vision and hope for the future that in all honesty our society has failed to work toward. I'm not at all looking forward to the consequences. Many environmentalists believed that the 1990s would be the defining period for the future of our planet, but it is clear that the momentum of the environmental movement in general has waned due in large part to political intransigence and, yes, a concerted effort by the business and corporate elites to discredit environmentalists and downplay environmental concerns. So we are no doubt worse off than we were when Turtle Talk was published, but it is not too late; therefore, the book's relevance is far from negligible. Those who are concerned with the state of our planet's environment, are not interested in just "saving what's left," and want some timeless inspiration, will no doubt find this a worthy addition to their library.

The World's Greatest Ideas: An Encyclopedia of Social Inventions
Published in Paperback by New Society Pub (2001)
Authors: Nicholas Albery, Retta Bowen, Nick Temple, Stephanie Wienrich, Brian Eno, Kirkpatrick Sale, Nick Albery, and Jay Walljasper
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I'm the first?!?
I just knew someone had beat me to the punch in reviewing this book.

Check this out. Are you interested in taking over the world one block at a time? Are you interested in thinking out of the box in doing so (no pablum like "we need to start our own businesses" or "we need to elect people we really really trust")?

Pick this book up. Trust me. I'm willing to bet that there is at least ONE social invention in this book that would change your life if you just tried it with a few friends.

The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy
Published in Hardcover by Knopf (1990)
Author: Kirkpatrick Sale
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An inevitable book about an inevitable shame
This is a well written and thought provoking book. I read it awhile back (1992) and really enjoyed it. I recommend it highly. However, I would like to share a few thoughts on the topic and approach of the book. In retrospect, it hardly seems fair to blame Columbus and the Europeans. I feel if we must blame something we should blame Human Nature instead.

Sale makes a strong case that the European discovery of distant yet habitable lands across the Atlantic was a huge tragedy for all involved, especially to the Native Americans - the conquered. Granted there was great violence and horror unleashed by this world shaking event, but, I would ask - "How else could this have happened?". The tragedy was inevitable. At anytime during Western history, if such an encounter were to take place, I think it is reasonable to assume, human nature being what it is, that the same tragic results would have occurred. We cannot pretend that Europeans explorers of ANY generation, save our own, would have taken with them a 20th century cultural sensitivity (a commodity that Sale apparently has in great quantity) or anthropological curiosity.

Furthermore, we shouldn't be lulled into believing that because the Native Americans were not as efficient killers as where the Europeans, that they somehow lived in an idyllic peace. Human nature being what it is, we see the same kind of religious fanaticism, the same proto-nationalism, and desperate warfare, egocentric monarchs and power-drunk clerics that mark European history. The Incas, Mayas, Aztecs, Chibcha and Arowat peoples believed THEIR gods to be universal, and THEIR way of life was ordained by heaven. The Incas and Aztecs conquered vast numbers of materially inferior peoples and brought them the "truth" of their religion as well as the benefits of their civilization, ie. trade and protection. Much the same way the Spaniards, Portugues, and French will do in post-Conquest Latin America.

I think that Columbus, for all his flaws and failings is nonetheless heroic simply for having the determination to arrive. If he didn't do it, someone else would have - and the glory and blame would have rested with that person. The conquest of paradise was a shame, but it was an inevitable one - sooner or later someone would have done it. I remember on Columbus Day 1992 going down to see the statue of Columbus in front of Union Station in Washington, DC - only to find "the discoverer" drenched in blood red paint. "what a shame"

For those who are interested in the topic, I highy recommend John Hemming's Conquest of the Incas - An equally fascinating book but one that has the advantage of being even-handed, open-minded and fair.

The Myth and the Man
Until I read this fascinating book, I did not realize how much my understanding of Columbus was based on myths created, sometimes deliberately, in the centuries after his life. The book is well documented and the author doesn't seem to have any personal agenda, which I appreciate.

THE Book to Understand the Columbus Myth
I came upon Kirkpatrick Sale's The Conquest of Paradise years ago as I was researching what happened in the New World when Columbus showed up. After having read dozens of books on the issue, Sale's book probably stands as the most important single volume in understanding the Columbus Myth and how it came into being. I used his book significantly in writing of my own researches into the Columbus Myth and other lies I was taught as a child. If you want one book to begin understanding why we have a national holiday named after the man who initiated history's greatest genocide, The Conquest of Paradise is it.

The Fire of His Genius : Robert Fulton and the American Dream
Published in Hardcover by Free Press (2001)
Author: Kirkpatrick Sale
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pre-industrial genius
What stands out to me in this biography are his early years as a portrait painter in England; the attempts to sell his inventions, the submarine and his mines, to Napoleon and later to the British, for profit; the erotic tryst he had with his friends the Barlows in Paris; his later attempts to maintain his patents on his steamboats on the Hudson and in New Jersey ,which he operated for his own profit, against competition; and the surrounding American history, which included the Lousiana Purchase and the Lewis & Clark expedition. Fulton was a true American entrepreneur who died at a premature age, burned out by his efforts. The final chapter on his legacy to the commerce of the American heartland, the effects of which took place largely after his death, is also very impressive.

Robert Fulton: A Neglected Subject
Author Kirkpatrick Sale has provided us with a well researched book about a historical figure that has been neglected and I learned some interesting facts about Robert Fulton I wasn't aware of. His steamboat was technically called the North River Steamboat. The North River was another name for the Hudson River. Clermont, the name we associate with the steamboat, was a large tract of privately owned land about 90 miles up the Hudson River from New York City. Fulton was also interested in designing a submarine with torpedoes to be used in time of war in addition to underwater cannons and floating mines. He also had a rather curious relationship with a couple named Joel and Ruth Barlow which I will let the reader of the book speculate on. Fulton was plagued by weak lungs due to tuberculois and this ultimately led to his death in 1815. I learned a number of interesting tidbits about Robert Fulton I wasn't aware of, but I have to confess there were parts I read through rather quickly.

American Dream Via Inventiveness
It used to be that every kid could name Robert Fulton as the man who invented the steamboat. In the eighteenth century, he was a figure of considerable esteem, as the new American nation prided itself on its inventiveness and its new ways of doing things. Perhaps few kids or adults could now name this once-exalted inventor, and that is too bad, for his invention shaped the new nation in ways that still affect us. A new biography, _The Fire of His Genius: Robert Fulton and the American Dream_ (Free Press) by Kirkpatrick Sale, throws light on Fulton and his invention (or inventions, for he was a constant tinkerer). It also shows him to be one of the most peculiar and self-destructive of inventive men.

Brought up in want, Fulton became apprenticed to a jeweler, and learned to paint portraits. He got money somehow, and went to England to improve his painting skills, and did indeed exhibit portraits at the Royal Academy. More importantly, he was fascinated by the British system of canals, and invented a gadgets having to do with them. In France, he tinkered with submarines and naval mines. Back at home on the Hudson, he did the work that made him famous. He made a maiden voyage in 1807 from New York City to Albany, 32 hours in the steamboat _North River_. (It was not the _Clermont_, an error in Fulton's first biography that has been reproduced in countless textbooks.) On the very return trip, he took paying passengers. Though Fulton's boats had a superb record for safety, they caused alarm in those who had never seen anything like them. One spectator wrote that when villagers saw this "strange dark-looking craft... some imagined it to be a sea-monster, whilst others did not hesitate to express their belief that it was a sign of the approaching judgment." Although commercially successful, he spent a great deal of time defending his controversial patent rights and trying to maintain boating monopolies. If he had spent that time improving his products (which were, indeed, superior boats) and arranging for more commercial incursions into such lucrative markets as the Mississippi River (where steamboats forged the most change), he probably would have been richer, happier, and more famous.

Sale has taken such facts as are available and with welcome rhetorical flourishes has built a novelistic and satisfying portrait of an enigmatic man. He places both Fulton and the steamboat in a larger history, and just as he is enlightening about the darker or shallower parts of Fulton's character, he is ready to tell about the casualties of the steamboat, such as the Indians or the forests. It is true that America is vastly different because Fulton came along. Mark Twain, who certainly ought to know, wrote "He made the vacant oceans and idle rivers useful, after the unprejudiced had been wondering for years what they were for."

Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution: Lessons for the Computer Age
Published in Paperback by Perseus Publishing (1996)
Author: Kirkpatrick Sale
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Sophomoric rant
This book contains an interesting, if biased, history of the Luddite movement which will interest all those who have no knowledge of that period of British history.

This book also presents a number of "arguments" suggesting that luddism is an appropriate stance vis a vis today's technology and science.

The fact is that his arguments are sloppy and his analysis is tendentious and sophomoric. There's nothing here which you wont find in the most hackneyed of anti-science rants issuing from post-modern science warriors.

An example is that nuclear technology led to the creation of the atomic bomb therefore it is inherrently evil. Anyone who knows anything about global politics and strategy should pause to laugh at this (MAD-logic doesn't even get a look in let alone a critique), anyone who's interested in the history of science will stop to laugh at this and frankly, anyone who agrees with this and uses a computer (which relies on the same QM theories) should stop to consider whether or not their belief system is hopelessly inconsistant.

We don't get any insight of any detail into what motivates the moral judgements Sale makes, we're just expected to blindly agree, so anyone who has done any moral philosophy should be scratching their heads.

Give this one a pass.

Kinda Ironic This Book Is Selling on
Generally, I found this book an interesting and thought-provoking read. I'm not quite sure if I agree with Sale on his Neo-Luddite stance, but I know that he does up problems I will eventually have to make a stance on. The reason this book is missing a star is Sale's basic skipping over points that might count against him (for example, his only address of medical advances is a note to the effect that medicine has only helped about a third of the world's population. Which is roughly 2 billion people -- that's pretty good for a start, wouldn't you say ?). To be fair, I suppose I do not a bias myself -- I use my computer roughly every day, and grew up in the very suburbs Sale accuses of being 'sterile enclaves.' In the end, there is little for me to do but sit back and wonder which path is the way of the future -- that which our society has been marching on for two hundred years, or the path of those who smash machines.

provocative, good!
Excellent, provocative work. Calls into question the whole progressivist paradigm of Western Liberal thought...definite good lesson to all those with naively sunny visions of the .com future...

Strongly recommend Mark Lutz & Kenneth Lutz if you liked this book.

The Green Revolution: The American Environmental Movement, 1962-199 (A Critical Issue)
Published in Paperback by Hill & Wang Pub (1993)
Authors: Kirkpatrick Sale and Eric Foner
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Good intro to the American environmental movement
Anyone who wants to get a better understanding of the evolution of the Green movement in the United States will find this short, concise book a worthwile read. The book covers the first three decades of the movement, which essentially began when Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962. Environmentalism really established itself quickly after the publication of this book; the threats that Carson discussed struck a nerve with the American people. This growing concern led to the establishment of a number of organizations like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, as well as forcing politicians to start paying attention to environmental issues. But as Sale points out, the environmental movement has experienced numerous setbacks. First off, the political establishment has persisted in its resistance to legislating truly effective environmental policies. Second, there has been a considerable backlash from big business. Thirdly, many of the idealistic organizations of the 1960s and 1970s have essentially sold out in their effort to play hardball with the big boys, thus diluting the revolutionary aspect of environmentalism and, hence, giving rise to "radical" environmentalists. All in all, this is a good book, very well and clearly written and bountiful in relevant information for those wanting a better understanding of the environmental movement in the United States.

Published in Unknown Binding by Vintage Books ()
Author: Kirkpatrick Sale
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SDS History
It quickly becomes apparent that this is the bible for anyone interested in the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Clocking in at a whopping 700+ pages, Sale has exhaustively researched almost every aspect of this organization and turned that research into interesting and concise reading. His research on SDS encompasses books, the SDS archives in Wisconsin, interviews and letters with some of the movers and shakers in SDS, and even archives for the League of Industrial Democracy (SDS's parent organization). The book is divided into four sections: Reorganization, Reform, Resistance and Revolution. Within these divisions Sale creates chapters based on the seasons, such as Summer 1965 or Fall 1967. The book covers roughly 12 years, from 1960 to 1972 (the book was published in 1973). Sale still writes articles for such magazines as The Nation, as well as other books, one on Robert Fulton being his most recent.

SDS started out as SLID, or the Student League of Industrial Democracy, an arm of the LID mentioned above. LID was an Old Left organization made up of cautious anti-Communist liberals/socialists. Sale details every aspect of SDS; the formation of the group under the watchful eyes of Al Haber and Tom Hayden, the writing of the Port Huron Statement, the tensions between the intellectuals and actionists which resulted in the ERAP projects (and the failure of those projects), the infusion of new SDS members from mid-America which moved the power base from the East Coast and radicalized the movement. Sale continues his account all the way to the demise of SDS into two Communist factions: Weatherman and PL-SDS. Sale knows he's telling a long tale and constantly stops along the way for summaries and recaps of problems. The ominous appearance of sections on the Progressive Labor Party (PL) provides a separate timeline of this group until its infiltration and destruction of SDS in the later 1960's.

As useful as this history is, Sale does have his limitations. He rarely provides any look at the intellectual underpinnings of SDS, an aspect that is critical in understanding their ideas and some of their weaknesses. There are only a few mentions of C. Wright Mills, for example. Mills was critical to early SDS thought and should definitely have a place in any history of SDS (James Miller's book provides an intellectual history of SDS). Another problem is that Sale is writing so close to his subject. In 1973 Weather bombs are still going off and principal members of SDS are still protesting. Sale misses out on what the perspective of time can do for people. Finally, for a book so exhaustive and meticulous in its approach, there is no reprint of the Port Huron Statement to be found, not in the text or in an appendix, which I find very surprising.

If you are going to do any reading on SDS, let alone any research, you must read this book, and I recommend reading it before you read any other books on the topic. Unfortunately, it's out of print. I haven't seen a copy available anywhere ..., but a reprint could always happen at anytime. Highly Recommended.

The Auction Book: A Comprehensive Fundraising Resource for Nonprofit Organizations
Published in Paperback by Auction Pr (1987)
Authors: Betsy Beatty and Libby Kirkpatrick
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