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Common Fire: Leading Lives of Commitment in a Complex World Paperback – July 21, 1997

ISBN-13: 004-6442020053 ISBN-10: 0807020052

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (July 21, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807020052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807020050
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #534,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A perceptive, groundbreaking analysis of inspired lives. . . . This is a guidebook for the soul. --Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

"A truly refreshing book! In a day when the political and spiritual air has grown stale with cynicism, discouragement, and indirection, this beautifully written, penetrating study could not be more welcome or valuable. No teacher, parent, or civic leader who cares about nurturing social commitment can fail to be informed and inspired by this remarkable and surprisingly practical book." --Robert Kegan, author of In Over Our Heads

"Eloquent and profound, Common Fire addresses what Americans everywhere long for: a sense of the common good, an emphasis on community and compassion in everyday life, a values-based politics in the public sphere. A compelling, encouraging work." --Jim Wallis, author of The Soul of Politics

"A profound exposition and penetrating commentary on some of life's most important issues." --Clarence G. Newsome, dean, Howard Divinity School

"A compelling portrait of people who choose to make a difference and thus inspire us all." --Rosabeth Moss Kanter, author of World Class: Thriving Locally in the Global Economy

About the Author

Laurent A. Parks Daloz is professor in adult education at Lesley College and associate director of the Whidbey Institute. Cheryl H. Keen and James P. Keen are professors at Antioch College. Sharon Daloz Parks is associate director of the Whidbey Institute and author of The Critical Years: Young Adults and the Search for Meaning, Faith, and Commitment.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
Common Fire is more than a book. It is itself a vision and an inspiration. If you're looking for hope and innumerable practical tips about how to create more possibilities for compassion and creativity in our schools and communities, then you'll love the incredible stories that this brilliant, care-full group of four author/educators has put together. Common Fire introduces us to a vision of what our good country can be when we re-envision ourselves as citizens rather than mere "consumers." I find it unbelievably heartbreaking to see America play darkly at the edges of cynicism, despair and violence, all of this supported by a daily barrage of TV and newspaper stories that hold out the lowest possible standard for what we humans can be, individually and in our communities. We are capable of so much more! Each one of our children should grow up in a safe home, surrounded by adults who know how to deal artfully with differences and potential conflict. Each one should grow into a visionary neighborhood of people who help one another and speak well of one another. These courageous Common Fire authors of have really gone out to the edge of what is possible for us as a nation, grounding their vision in the real experience of over one hundred extraordinary, visionary, incredibly committed leaders who refuse to take despair as the answer. As someone who has done professional interviewing, I know how difficult it is to ask good questions, to sort through masses of material for the gold. The Common Fire authors have done a superb job. These are good stories, real pearls of wisdom from mature American citizens who know what they're talking about. I am inspired by their stories, by their tenacity and creativity in situations where so many of us have given up.Read more ›
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By M. Pardee on August 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Common Fire" is a scintillating work--but I'm not sure it's (ENTIRELY) aptly named. The "Fire" part seems to me entirely appropriate, for this book is positively pyrotechnic in its passion and pizzazz! On the other hand, its approach and content are FAR FROM "Common." This book is a masterful synthesis of wit and wisdom. It combines impeccable intellectual and academic credentials with a profoundly spiritual sense of consciousness. It taps and appeals to both the heart AND the mind. In other words, it plumbs the depth of our souls.

Citing scholars as diverse as Ronald Heifetz (of "Leadership W/out Easy Answers"), Robert Kegan (of "In Over Our Heads"), Nel Noddings (of "Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics & Moral Education"), Robert Bellah et al. (of "Habits of the Heart"), Robert Putnam (of "Bowling Alone"), Lev Vygotsky (of "Thought and Language,"), Cornel West (of "Race Matters," etc.), Erik Erikson, Thich Nhat Hanh, Peter Senge (of "The 5th Discipline"), and Garrett Hardin (who wrote the seminal essay: "The Tragedy of the Commons")--as well as MANY others, "Common Fire" touches its readers in remarkably nuanced and incisive ways.

The book chronicles the lives of actual people who are extraordinarily committed to serving the common/public good. These (auto)biographical sources lend the book an air of practical, non-fictional, personal authority. The "subjects" of the authors' study thus come across with all their human subjectivity, diversity, and individuality intact. But the book is also carefully enough researched, and thoroughly enough informed, that it conveys a more sweeping sense of "objective truth," as well. Perhaps that's because its authors understand and appreciate paradox, mystery, etc.
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By Jeff Jolly on July 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rambled. Lost interest quickly
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