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

Paul Hawken
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)


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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

Review

Blessed Unrest is a beautiful, soulful, crucial book. It is a manifesto of hope for the 21st century grounded squarely in the hearts of engaged people around the planet. Paul Hawken chronicles and testifies on behalf of this "movement with no name" with his charismatic intelligence and insight. This book makes the invisible visible. I believe Hawken when he says we are part of the Earth's immune system each time we exercise our active compassion in the name of social justice and ecological health. I love this book. It is a field guide for all that is possible. -- Terry Tempest Williams, author of The Open Space of Democracy

For the first time since life evolved, one species is now altering the physical, chemical, and biological features of the planet on a geological scale. Scientists tell us of a litany of ecological disasters--climate change, toxic pollution, species extinction, marine depletion, deforestation--the depressing list can paralyze one with hopelessness and despair. Fear can motivate immediate action in the short-run, but hope can be sustained. Paul Hawken's writings are always at the cutting edge of environmental thought, original, surprising and shot through with optimism. Blessed Unrest is an uplifting perspective, engendering wonder and hope. For all of us that are squirreling away in our individual small ways, it is inspiring to realize that millions of us can add up to an irresistible force. Read this book and shout "Hallelujah!" -- David Suzuki, author of The Sacred Balance

If you have lost a sense of direction in your life, if despair dogs your every step, pick up a pencil and pick up this book. Paul Hawken, without a trace of self-importance, impales a very dark room on the beam of a very bright light here. In his hands, the civil society movement reveals itself as the action that has replaced the talk. -- Barry Lopez, author of Resistance and Arctic Dreams

Many books describe the world in ways that break our hearts. Blessed Unrest invokes a heartbreak from which light pours. Paul Hawken is stupendously well informed. He is also critical without rancor, intuitive without woo woo, and poetic or hard-minded as the case requires. His narrative flows from a harrowing litany of "free market" abuses and desecrations to the countless life-saving actions and organizations that now envelope the earth in response. This is a work of enormous love and consequence. Every compassion-driven soul who reads it will be stunned by the scope and power of the movement we've inadvertently formed. When, inevitably, my daughters someday feels their hearts broken by the wounded world they have inherited, I will be handing them this book of books. -- David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and God Laughs & Plays

Many books describe the world in ways that break our hearts. Blessed Unrest invokes a heartbreak from which light pours. Paul Hawken is stupendously well informed. He is also critical without rancor, intuitive without woowoo, and poetic or hard-minded as the case requires. This is a work of enormous love and consequence. Every compassion-driven soul who reads it will be stunned by the scope and power of the movement we've inadvertently formed. When, inevitably, my daughters someday feels their hearts broken by the wounded world they have inherited, I will be handing them this and a precious few other books. -- David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and God Laughs & Plays

On one side the four horsemen of the apocalypse; on the other a vast and nameless uprising of peoples and organizations fighting for justice, places, communities, diversity, and health--the planetary immune system. Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest is not just a good book, it is a necessary book, wise, eloquent, perceptive, sober, and timely but above all, hopeful. A landmark! -- David Orr, author of Design on the Edge and The Last Refuge

Paul Hawken has created a wondrous experience -- a book that magically weaves together the world across time and place. From the wisdom of ancients to our modern predicament. From dead fish to the industrial giants that killed them. From endangered peoples defending nature against the onslaught to their new friends and allies in the capitals of capitalism. Within this vast tableau, the book tells the dramatic story of people rising to resist -- a global coming together mobilized to change the world and save it. -- William Greider, author of The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy

Paul Hawken has written an important and significant book--intelligent, compelling, moving, and hopeful. In the broad sweep of a history of diffuse and seemingly unconnected events and people, he has found emergent pattern. That pattern, amazing simultaneously in its intricacy and simplicity, gives clarity to the direction humankind is moving in its struggle for survival. Read and regain a sense of optimism for our grandchildren's grandchildren; and be motivated to ensure that they inherit a restored earth and an equitable society. -- Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface

Paul Hawken is at the top of his storytelling art in Blessed Unrest. By revealing the twin heart of the environmental and social justice movements, he helps us know ourselves in a new way--as competent members of the natural world, intent on recovering from our stumble as a species. Each page yields surprise and "of course!" recognition for what has been swelling beneath our collective ground for over 100 years. I read it in a single sitting, hungry for the next piece of the puzzle, the next 6-degrees-of-separation coincidence. Hawken makes these invisible truths obvious through impeccably researched tales told in the bell-clear prose of a statesman poet. In this chronicle of the groundswell with no name, we have found our Tocqueville, our Twain, and our Sinclair. -- Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry

This is first full account of the real news of our time, and it's exactly the opposite of the official account. The movers and shakers on our planet aren't the billionaires and the generals--they are the incredible numbers of people around the world filled with love for neighbor and for the earth who are resisting, remaking, restoring, renewing, revitalizing. This powerful and lovely book is their story--our story--and it's high time someone's told it. Nothing you read for years to come will fill you with more hope and more determination. -- Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy and The End of Nature

From the Back Cover

Advanced Praise for BLESSED UNREST by Paul Hawken

Blessed Unrest is exciting, compelling, and very important. It describes the growing unrest that I encounter around the world, the frustration and courage of those who dare to challenge the power of the political corporate world. Paul Hawken states eloquently all that I believe so passionately to be true - that there is inherent goodness at the heart of our humanity, that collectively we can - and are - changing the world. Please read and share Blessed Unrest, a celebration of the awakening of the human spirit. It will inspire and encourage millions more to take action.
-Jane Goodall, UN Ambassador for Peace

If you have lost a sense of direction in your life, if despair dogs your every step, pick up a pencil and pick up this book. Paul Hawken, without a trace of self-importance, impales a very dark room on the beam of a very bright light here. In his hands, the civil society movement reveals itself as the action that has replaced the talk.
-Barry Lopez, author of Resistance and Arctic Dreams

This is the first full account of the real news of our time, and it's exactly the opposite of the official account. The movers and shakers on our planet aren't the billionaires and the generals--they are the incredible numbers of people around the world filled with love for neighbor and for the earth who are resisting, remaking, restoring, renewing, revitalizing. This powerful and lovely book is their story--our story--and it's high time someone's told it. Nothing you read for years to come will fill you with more hope and more determination.
-Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy and The End of Nature

Blessed Unrest is a beautiful, soulful, crucial book. It is a manifesto of hope for the 21st century grounded squarely in the hearts of engaged people around the planet. Paul Hawken chronicles and testifies on behalf of this "movement with no name" with his charismatic intelligence and insight. This book makes the invisible visible. I believe Hawken when he says we are part of the Earth's immune system each time we exercise our active compassion in the name of social justice and ecological health. I love this book. It is a field guide for all that is possible.
-Terry Tempest Williams, author of The Open Space of Democracy

Many books describe the world in ways that break our hearts. Blessed Unrest invokes a heartbreak from which light pours. Paul Hawken is stupendously well informed. He is also critical without rancor, intuitive without woo woo, and poetic or hard-minded as the case requires. His narrative flows from a harrowing litany of "free market" abuses and desecrations to the countless life-saving actions and organizations that now envelope the earth in response. This is a work of enormous love and consequence. Every compassion-driven soul who reads it will be stunned by the scope and power of the movement we've inadvertently formed. When, inevitably, my daughters someday feels their hearts broken by the wounded world they have inherited, I will be handing them this book of books.
-David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and God Laughs & Plays

For the first time since life evolved, one species is now altering the physical, chemical, and biological features of the planet on a geological scale. Scientists tell us of a litany of ecological disasters--climate change, toxic pollution, species extinction, marine depletion, deforestation--the depressing list can paralyze one with hopelessness and despair. Fear can motivate immediate action in the short-run, but hope can be sustained. Paul Hawken's writings are always at the cutting edge of environmental thought, original, surprising and shot through with optimism.

Blessed Unrest is an uplifting perspective, engendering wonder and hope. For all of us that are squirreling away in our individual small ways, it is inspiring to realize that millions of us can add up to an irresistible force. Read this book and shout "Hallelujah!"
-David Suzuki, author of The Sacred Balance

Paul Hawken is at the top of his storytelling art in Blessed Unrest. By revealing the twin heart of the environmental and social justice movements, he helps us know ourselves in a new way--as competent members of the natural world, intent on recovering from our stumble as a species. Each page yields surprise and "of course!" recognition for what has been swelling beneath our collective ground for over 100 years. I read it in a single sitting, hungry for the next piece of the puzzle, the next 6-degrees-of-separation coincidence. Hawken makes these invisible truths obvious through impeccably researched tales told in the bell-clear prose of a statesman poet. In this chronicle of the groundswell with no name, we have found our Tocqueville, our Twain, and our Sinclair.
-Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry

On one side the four horsemen of the apocalypse; on the other a vast and nameless uprising of peoples and organizations fighting for justice, places, communities, diversity, and health--the planetary immune system. Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest is not just a good book, it is a necessary book, wise, eloquent, perceptive, sober, and timely but above all, hopeful. A landmark!
-David Orr, author Design on the Edge and The Last Refuge

Paul Hawken has written an important and significant book--intelligent, compelling, moving, and hopeful. In the broad sweep of a history of diffuse and seemingly unconnected events and people, he has found emergent pattern. That pattern, amazing simultaneously in its intricacy and simplicity, gives clarity to the direction humankind is moving in its struggle for survival. Read and regain a sense of optimism for our grandchildren's grandchildren; and be motivated to ensure that they inherit a restored earth and an equitable society.
-Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface and author of Mid-Course Correction

About the Author

Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and bestselling author of six previous books. He is the architect and leading proponent of reform with respect to ecological practices. He currently operates a nonprofit organization.

From AudioFile

If you have the least bit of concern for the environment, and if for some reason you listen to only one audiobook this year, let it be BLESSED UNREST. In brief, the book describes how the social justice movement and the environmental movement are, as they should be, intertwining and says that this trend is the best, and maybe the only, hope we have for saving our beautiful, fragile planet. Nonfiction is a challenge for a performer under the best of circumstances, but Paul Garcia captures the passion and purposefulness of Hawkens writing. Garcia narrates factual information evenly and knows when to dramatize the statements that form the heart of this treatise. M.S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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