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Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy Paperback – December 26, 2007
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Well my friend this beautifully written work will give you a lot of ideas.
From the savannas of Africa to fiords of Norway you will have new insights into why we dance everywhere and why we will never stop until the last heart stops "beating."
I have always known dance has eternal powers but until I read this I never thought how these powers had been copted in the pursuit of bellicose motives that turned brother against brother.
Thanks to an NPR interview, that did not come close to doing this book justice, and the omnipresence of Amazon I was able to order, receive, read, digest and recommend this joy of a book in a matter of days. A Dionyesian feast that will dance in your mind for a lifetime. Thank you so much Ms. Ehrenreich.
I found this book to be fascinating and stimulating. As a life-long Roman Catholic, I thought the earlier reviews that decry the author for her 'church bashing' and 'Stalin'-like approaches were rather unfair and unnecessarily ad hominem. The author clearly put a great deal of time and effort into this book (either that, or she has an amazing team of researchers working for her! ;-D). It was fascinating for me to listen as she wove disparate pieces of information into a beautiful tapestry about the history of collective ecstatic dance in the Western world. (These kinds of books are very difficult to write. If you haven't tried to write a book such as this, I would strongly invite you to do so ... you'll gain a new appreciation for authors such as Ehrenreich who make it look so easy.)
I picked this book up because I very appreciated the author's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. I appreciate the author because she is focusing on issues that, in my opinion, should deeply concern today's Christians, such as the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer.
As a mental health professional, I also found her discussion on depression and mental health issues to be very insightful.
The person who read the audio book did a wonderful job. I found her voice very easy to listen to.Read more ›
Going chronologically from the stone age cave drawings where the collective experience of dancing and feasting was felt so important as to record it, Ehrenreich sweeps through to present times, to what she calls an age of spectacle and sports. Along the way, Ehrenreich tells you about anthropologists who in the beginning neglected dance altogether and psychologists who are still too busy studying only the depressed individual to take any notice of those of us who experience joy. She takes a long hard look at Calvinism through the immensely troubled life of John Bunyan and tracks the dance mania in the 13-15th century Europe that ended in a crackdown on bodily movement from both Church and State in the 16th century. Ehrenreich cleverly posits this crackdown could very well be linked to the European Depression in the 17th century and she cites evidence in the novels, poetry, and autobiographies of the times. She finds only sporadic outbreaks of collective joy in present times, one such episode emanating from the sixties culture.
Coming to this book as a dancer and knowing the joy of dance I interpret Ehrenreich's work as demonstrating the struggle that exists in the physical body when you dance. In other words, to move or not to move.Read more ›
Several people have found it necessary to point out that Barbara Ehrenreich is on the left politically and a product of the 1960s with an "ah hah" mentality that seems to indicate she has has somehow tried to hide this, or that it inherently shameful. Social thinkers who propose changes in the way we currently conduct our lives or our society ALWAYS have ideas which they promote (pejoratively described as biases) because they actively advocate for change. It would be dishonest to attempt to hide them behind a false "objectivity."
This kind of false "objectivity" has sapped the life, not only from much that passes for social commentary, but also from investigative journalism, in which the collection of a quote or two from "authorities" on each side of a conflict has replaced the search for the truth about a given situation. It has also lead to the false notion that the truth is always located in the middle of the road.
Bravo to Barbara Ehrenreich who never hides behind this sort of fakery in her search for the truth as she sees it. She invites readers to join the dance of two mindes, the writer's and the reader's, in thinking about topics that engage her own thoughts.
Some critics seem to be attacking the fact that her writing is interesting and fun to read. Never fear!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent history of of the phenomenon. Good differentiation between an audience and a crowd. good discussion about the present needs.Published 5 months ago by Gary Reinstein
Excellent book detailing some of the lesser known histories of our past, especially in regards to collective forms of joy and ecstasy. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Gabriel
Fascinating study, easy to read, entertaining and thought-provoking. Very original take on a subject I haven't seen addressed much.Published 11 months ago by me
Ehrenreich gets it right. We cannot become what we need to be as long as we engage in the pursuit of happiness by ourselves. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Kevin Corn
the writer seems to think that primitive society and the middle ages were times of tolerance and liberalism. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Evelina
Barbara Ehrenreich is my favorite author. This book, in particular, I love. There's not a lot of joy in day to day American life. At least amongst the people I know. Read morePublished 17 months ago by hannah
Explains a whole lot about our crazy and often joyless culture. Great book for those that like dance history, as well as religious, cultural and social history. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Happy Feet