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Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh Paperback – August 18, 1992


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Norberg-Hodge first went to Ladakh in 1975 and has spent six months there every year since. This slim volume is her soapbox to air her views of how Ladakh should be. Part 1 is the romantic, idealized Shangri-la where everyone is happy and contented. Then she portrays Ladakh after the tourist invasions and economic development. Next is a tirade against multinational corporations that are responsible for all the world's problems (strange, since India banned most international companies 20 years ago). Finally, Norberg-Hodge describes her work in establishing local organizations to introduce local-level, low-capital inputs. A popular and sensitive introduction to Ladakh is needed, but this is not it. Not recommended.
- Donald Clay Johnson, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"The celebration here of traditional Ladakhi life induces exhilaration but also sadness, as if some half-remembered paradise known in another life had now been lost. So evocative is it that I felt -- I'm not sure what -- homesickness?"

Peter Matthiessen, from the Introduction

"Though full of stories and photographs of the Ladakhi way of life. [Ancient Futures] is much more than a travelogue; it is . . . an ecologue .... The Western industrial 'monoculture' that has infected and endangers the rich ancient culture of Ladakhi is the one that is endangering us, its progenitors, as well. A book that must be heeded." Kirkpatrick Sale, The Nation

"A sensitive, thought-provoking account." New York Review off Books

"An indispensable book for people who are trying to protect rural life." Wendell Berry

"Everyone who cares about the future of this planet, about their children's future, and about the deterioration in the quality of life in our own society, should read [this book]." The Guardian (England) -- Review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books (August 18, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871566435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871566430
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,061,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

An amazing read, beautifully written and with great insights.
"fnm500"
After reading a used copy I picked up for free, I bought seven copies of this book for friends and family!
Christopher Burford
Read this book and rediscover ancient, profound, life-affirmating alternatives to the modern humdrum.
J.W.K

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Pam Hanna on October 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
The first half of *Ancient Futures* will delight and amaze you; the second half will break your heart.
In the 1970s, the Ladakhis of Little Tibet were a happy people. They had a sustainable traditional economy based on trade and cooperation - not money. One person's gain was not another person's loss. There was plenty of leisure, no hunger or poverty, very little sickness or disease, everyone was valued, there was no pollution and nothing was wasted. They got along fine with their Muslim neighbors and they kept their population stable through marriage customs based on land use. Almost every family had a celibate monk or nun. Buddhist monasteries and people had a mutually beneficial economic, social and spiritual relationship. Ladakhis are a naturally contemplative people with a great deal of spiritual awareness. "Schon chan" (one who angers easily) is about the only insult in the Ladakhi lnaguage. "Lack of pride is a virtue, for pride, born of ego, has nothing to do with self-respect among these Buddhist people." The author says that it took her two years of living among them to realize that the people were genuinely and joyfully HAPPY. Then the world beat a path to their door and all that changed - in fewer than two decades.
It's like a little piece of cultural time-lapse photography. What took western culture more than four centuries to do to the Native-Americans took only twenty years here. Ladakh has become a cautionary tale and a monument to western greed and stupidity.
Read more ›
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Burford on May 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
How does life in a non-industrial society compare to life in our own? In which society are people happier? If life in non-industrial societies compares favorably to life in our own, then why are the barrios of the third world filling up with migrants from remote villages? This book provides surprising insights into these questions. It also provokes reflections on our own society and its influence on the rest of the world. After reading a used copy I picked up for free, I bought seven copies of this book for friends and family!
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful By J.W.K on December 15, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading this book, I suddenly realized the root problem of Western Civilization: We have no culture. Where there was once culture, we now have an expanding economic order threatening all life on the planet. Through its mechanism of growth and expansion, the global economy is conquering and converting life's diversity into an ecological and social monoculture of cash crops, Levis, soda pop and movie theatres. Perhaps moonscape would be a better word. Of course, it doesn't have to be this way. Our fast-paced, increasingly technological, capital-intensive, fossil fuel-centered, centralized, highly specialized, travel and commercial-oriented, often stressful society is by no means the end-all-be-all of human history. Murder, child abuse, drug abuse, theft, poverty, hunger, and every other problem that plagues the West are not products of human nature. The pathology of civilization is not natural or inevitable, and the Ladakhi are proof of this. Read this book and rediscover ancient, profound, life-affirmating alternatives to the modern humdrum. Discover another way of living, thinking and feeling. Important, necessary, engaging and masterfully written - this book was a treasure to read. Indeed, it was an awaking.

A MUST READ
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By William J. Brown on March 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Rarely have I felt more dispair about the direction of what we know as civilization as I felt halfway through this book. The Ladakh people are described as happy, healthy, and self-reliant. Suddenly, the "real world" happens to them, and they come to see themselves as poor, when before they had no need of money.
The authors do a nice job of weaving a story of hope at the end but I have concern for the future of these people. It helps me understand the decision the government of Bhutan has made to isolate themselves from western-style civilization.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is an incredibly eye-opening book. A lot of the problems in modern life are those we attribute to the faults of human nature. This book shows us that it is the nature of our culture, not our inborn human nature, that is responsible for greed, selfishness, and jealousy. This book gives hope that we can see the importance of our connections to each other and what they really mean.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
What makes this book so profound for Western readers is that through the Ladakhi experience we not only see the identical disintegration being perpetrated on other peoples throughout the world, but we come to understand the roots of our own social malaise as well.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. It inspires questions about community and sustainability and culture which lead to further investigation. The author doesn't offer a solution, allowing the reader to live with his or her questions and find another several levels of questioning about who we are and how we live with one another and with our planet. It has the potential to open conversations about how we want to live and the choices we make about our economic, technological and social systems. It opens the reader to being altered by engaging in this conversation.
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