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Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming [Hardcover]

by Paul Hawken
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)


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Book Description

May 10, 2007 0670038520 978-0670038527 First Edition
One of the world’s most influential environmentalists reveals a worldwide grassroots movement of hope and humanity

Blessed Unrest tells the story of a worldwide movement that is largely unseen by politicians or the media. Hawken, an environmentalist and author, has spent more than a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice. From billion-dollar nonprofits to single-person causes, these organizations collectively comprise the largest movement on earth. This is a movement that has no name, leader, or location, but is in every city, town, and culture. It is organizing from the bottom up and is emerging as an extraordinary and creative expression of people’s needs worldwide.

Blessed Unrest explores the diversity of this movement, its brilliant ideas, innovative strategies, and centuries-old history. The culmination of Hawken’s many years of leadership in these fields, it will inspire, surprise, and delight anyone who is worried about the direction the modern world is headed. Blessed Unrest is a description of humanity’s collective genius and the unstoppable movement to re-imagine our relationship to the environment and one another. Like Hawken’s previous books, Blessed Unrest will become a classic in its field— a touchstone for anyone concerned about our future.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hawken (Natural Capitalism) traces the formation of the environmental and social justice movement from the beginnings of natural science across years and continents in this rousing and "inadvertently optimistic" call to action. Though it's argued that globalization; extinction of species, languages and cultures; and economic policies advantageous to the rich have degraded quality of life worldwide and engendered large scale feelings of fear, resentment and powerlessness, Hawken remains surprisingly hopeful. Strength, he contends, lies in the many thousands (if not millions) of nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to environmental protection and social justice that collectively form a worldwide movement geared toward humanity's betterment. A combination of history, current events, motivation and vision for the future, Hawken's book does a lot of work in its relatively few pages, though his perspective comes across in some passages as naïve (the thousands of protestors at the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization meeting merely wanted to "hold WTO accountable"). The book isn't likely to convert members of the World Bank, but readers already sympathetic to Hawken's position will find much here to chew on.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The profusion of good causes and the nonprofit groups that advance them can seem laughably overwhelming, but without altruistic grass-roots efforts, the world would be a far less merciful place. Environmentalist Hawken believes that we are in the midst of a world-changing rise of activist groups, all "working toward ecological sustainability and social justice." Rather than an ideological or centralized movement, this coalescence is a spontaneous and organic response to the recognition that environmental problems are social-justice problems. Writing with zest, clarity, and a touch of wonder, Hawken compares this gathering of forces to the human immune system. Just as antibodies rally when the body is under threat, people are joining together to defend life on Earth. Hawken offers a fascinating history of our perception of nature and human rights and assesses the role indigenous cultures are playing in the quest for ecological responsibility and economic fairness. Hawken also presents an unprecedented map to this new "social landscape" that includes a classification system defining astonishingly diverse concerns, ranging from farming to child welfare, ocean preservation, and beyond. Fresh and informative, Hawken's inspired overview charts much that is right in the world. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (May 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670038520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670038527
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Hawken has written seven books published in over 50 countries in 29 languages including four national bestsellers, The Next Economy, Growing a Business, and The Ecology of Commerce, and Blessed Unrest. Natural Capitalism, co-authored with Amory Lovins, was read by several heads of state including Bill Clinton who called it one of the five most important books in the world. He has appeared on numerous media including the Today Show, Larry King, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, and been profiled in articles including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Washington Post, Business Week, and Esquire. His writings have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Resurgence, New Statesman, Inc, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, Utne Reader, Orion, and other publications. He founded several companies including the first food company in the U.S. that relied solely on sustainable agricultural methods. He has served on the board of several environmental organizations including Point Foundation (publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogs), Center for Plant Conservation, Trust for Public Land, and National Audubon Society.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
129 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read Book May 20, 2007
Format:Hardcover
President Bill Clinton called Paul Hawken's last book, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Little, Brown. September 1999) one of the five most important books in the world today. Blessed Unrest belongs in the same category.

In his new book, Paul Hawken, noted environmentalist, businessman, writer, tech entrepreneur, and organizational/cultural theorist, makes a compelling case that the disparate movements for ecological restoration and social justice are merging into "the largest movement in the World." The book provides a fascinating overview of how this massive movement has no precedence and is different from previous social movements particularly with respect to ideology. This movement has no name, center or a leader. It is organic, self-organized, and made up of millions of people committed to making the world a better place.

One of my favorite passages is early on in the book when asked if he is pessimistic or optimistic about the world, the author says, "if you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren't pessimistic, you don't have the current data. If you meet the people in this unnamed movement and aren't optimistic, you haven't got a heart." This to me aptly summarizes what the book is about. I found the book uplifting as it is about optimism and a story of what's going right on our planet.

The book and the companion website project called WiserEarth ([...] a major undertaking and achievement. Thank you Mr. Hawken!

[...]
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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blessed Unrest is a Blessing! May 23, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you're depressed these days, it is not without good reason. Fear-mongers, the corporate sector, and the political class have conspired to form an extremely dark and inhospitable future. The environment and the various causes of social justice around the globe are in tattered disrepair, to put it mildly. Paul Hawken's wonderful book is a genuine argument for optimism, founded on hard-data and diligent detective work. His global survey of "change-agents", individuals and groups working, often independently and unknown to one another, has discovered a massive 'organism' mimicking the body's very own immune system and fighting off the pathogens of greed, extraction, and opression. Collectively, these groups represent the largest political movement in the history of the planet, and until Blessed Unrest, its larger outlines and properties were virtually unknown. Read this book and buy five copies for your friends. You'll be joining the millions of others worldwide who have aligned themselves with the awesome, restorative forces of nature, and are doing their best to reverse the last two centuries of despoilation and pillage of the human, plant and animal communities all over the world. You can start right where you stand. This book makes you want to stand up and cheer.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Blessed Unrest contains so many powerful new perspectives that it's all but impossible to identify even the most important ones in a review. Telling about this book is complicated by the fact that what is a powerful new perspective depends in part on what you know already. The key point is that being concerned about the environment cannot be logically separated from being concerned about exploited people: The time has come to reflect and act on all of perspectives of where improvement is needed.

Here is the briefest possible overview:

Organizing to improve conditions for others is a relatively new phenomenon, dating back only to the anti-slavery movement. But despite that recent beginning, self-organized efforts are growing exponentially to improve conditions for the poor, indigenous people, and endangered people and species. These activities are likened to the massive, redundant, and intelligent responses involved in the human immune system. The concepts behind these efforts link back to Emerson and Thoreau, Darwin, John Muir, Rachel Carson, Sir James Lovelock, and most recently Jared Diamond. The current exponents of those concepts are people who are scientifically and emotionally concerned by lasting damage that's occurring . . . and are well educated, responsible citizen advocates.

Contrast is drawn by describing the implications of the current momentum behind global free markets, reduced regulation of major companies, and the rapid extinction of common resources we all need. You'll find out about appalling examples of harm being created.

Paul Hawken has an impressive way of selecting his examples and drawing his points out of them. My favorite story involves running a workshop at a chemical company where Mr.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Unconquered Underground September 22, 2007
Format:Hardcover
This book surely deserves its nearly universal praise, but I'm going to have to throw a wrench into the works by pointing out a few of its structural flaws. As a widely-read conservationist I can credit Paul Hawken as one of the best modern writers and thinkers on our movement, and his classic "Natural Capitalism" is my absolute all-time favorite from the genre. "Blessed Unrest" will surely be a groundbreaker and it could seriously be influential for millions of people for decades to come. But the proof is actually in the appendix (which takes up more than a third of the book), while the main text is faintly disappointing in a few structural ways. In a nutshell, the relatively short main text covers Hawken's research into the quietly rising social movement around the world of literally millions of small organizations that are combining environmentalism, civil rights, and social justice in ways that are revitalizing democracy, conservation, and the human spirit for volunteerism. Most importantly, this movement utilizes ideas and not ideologies, and is inclusive rather than exclusive.

This is a crucially important topic and Hawken is doing the world a great service by bringing this immense but little-respected mass movement into the light. However, only one chapter in the book's main text ("Immunity") and a few other passages really focus specifically on this great movement and how exemplary groups are creating real change. Instead, most of the main text functions as a lengthy introduction that accomplishes little more than a set-up for the appendix. Hawken fills these pages with a fairly standard history of the environmental movement and the latest developments in conservationist philosophy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars We all want the best
Lump all the volunteer non-profits together and it's a huge sector. With some promoting globalization, but reflecting on Hawken's claim that diversity is better. Keep it local. Read more
Published 1 month ago by James G. Domke
5.0 out of 5 stars So Amazing! Really Opens Your Eyes!
This book is such a Revelation! The way Paul Hawken writes is almost poetic. I actually bought the kindle version, realized that I since I bought the kindle version I could... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Matthew T John
5.0 out of 5 stars Given as a gift
My friend absolutely loved the book and thought it was a great gift. It was an all around good purchase.
Published 3 months ago by Shelley Tucker
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
Anyone working within the field of sustainability should read this book! Additionally, the authors have done an amazing job compiling a list of all the major players within the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Larry Barnard
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting - school requirement
This book is a requirement for my PhD program. It is interesting, but sometimes hard to read. I'm only through the 3rd chapter.
Published 6 months ago by diane mastroguiseppe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Star Rated
Must read book gives a comprehensive perspective on this golbal movement. Realistically challenges the pessimism of the times!

five star rated!
Published 8 months ago by James D. Reed Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars thought-provoking!
Hawken does a super job educating his readers and giving us much food for thought. Sobering, at times...but a definite "must read."
Published 8 months ago by hike2day
4.0 out of 5 stars Divide and conquer?
Hawkin

Our immune systems, and only our immune system, prevent us from becoming everyone else all at once. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Terra Malmstrom
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing
What can I say? The guy have his point, and probably this is the only thing that matters: Institutions, nice reading.
Published 11 months ago by Herbert Santo de Lima
2.0 out of 5 stars Very little on actual current green movement
Bought the audiobook. First and last chapter are great; highly insipiring and insightful. The rest of the book not so great. Read more
Published 13 months ago by guy that does ballet
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