To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Madness at the Gates of the City: The Myth of American Innocence Paperback – September 1, 2010
|New from||Used from|
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Barry Spector's book is a strikingly imaginative rumination on our society, reaching back into Greek mythology to illuminate the world today. It is a fascinating blend of literature, history and myth, and while we have had many critiques of contemporary America, his is unique in the way it draws upon the Greek gods to examine, with devastating accuracy, our present deities of war and greed. This is truly an original work. --Howard Zinn, author of ''A People's History of the United States''
In this disturbing and evocative book, Barry Spector offers us a trenchant commentary on the ignorance, pathos and shadows residing in the American addiction to innocence. Mythologically wise and instructive, the author gives us keys to the hidden kingdom, and the potential to participate in an emerging new and creative story as we once again join forces with the genius inherent in myth and the guidance and warnings that it holds. This is a work that should be read by anyone who wants to make a difference. To respond and become proactive in the mythic tasks that are now upon us, our basic human nature is challenged by Spector to deepen, discover, evolve. We must become mything links. --Jean Houston, author of ''A Mythic Life''
About the Author
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Referring back to ancient Greek mythology, Barry Spector examines the fundamental ideas that inhabit and shape the American psyche: the attitudes and beliefs that generate our actions and reactions. He painstakingly details the fundamental themes driving American history from Colonial times to the present. The facts and figures that populate his analysis concoct a potion almost too bitter to drink. Yet we must drink it to move into a viable future.
For some readers, his portrayal of the devastating wake of American "freedom" will be deeply shocking. But I've been working on paradigm change for over 30 years. I lived almost two decades with an Iranian intellectual. I work with Native American artists and healers. While some of his facts and figures are new to me, their portent is familiar. What I find brilliant is his thoroughness in gathering the distressing incidents into a coherent, identifiable syndrome. Every day I urge several more people to read this book because this identification empowers us to imagine and invite a cure.
I agree with Spector's premise that we must know how bad things really are. We must face the true costs of our "way of life" in historical and current genocide, economic injustice, environmental destruction, psychological disease, and spiritual oppression. He shows us how we suffer despair when we repress the terrible truth. When we see it, name it, and mourn it, we initiate the healing we all desire at the deepest levels of our being.Read more ›
Using the central image of the Ancient Greece god Dionysus, Barry looks at the archetype of the Other. According to Jungian psychology, the Other allows us to define ourselves by what we are not--defining Self by contrast with Other. Here in America, the ruling white (male) culture has historically defined itself by that which it is not--creating Others out of Native Americans, Black Americans, women, and most recently the Islamic world.
Barry adds an interesting extra layer of his own, defining the Inner Other and the Outer Other--others within the culture, and others without, and says this way of seeing ourselves and those around us grew from the very roots of the development of America, which combined a predatory world view, with a paranoid world view. His examination of American history and current foreign policy in light of all this is fascinating, and thought-provoking.
Refering to Ancient Greece, which venerated Apollo--god of reason, rationality, masculinity--Barry says the god Dionysus represented the Other, and held the shadow of the culture. But the Greeks gave room to Dionysus, in rites that celebrated sexuality, wildness--and grief. We in America, however, do not acknowledge our shadow, or allow the Other any humanity. Barry Spector's thesis is that this is because if we did, we would be pole-axed by grief at the reality of our 400 year history of oppression at home and abroad.
Instead, America lives by an unexamined myth of innocence.Read more ›
Into this urgency, one among us, an ordinary citizen, has brought forth his gift. His gift is a book entitled, Madness at the Gates of the City: The Myth of American Innocence.
This is no political diatribe, no how-to manual.
It is a giving back to the community a life time of learning and a focused decade of reading and thinking about the soul of our land--a soul in distress, a land in distress.
It is a book, an essential book for any among us who see and feel this distress--regardless of political persuasion or religious affiliation or class or race or gender. Distress and yearning for a better world is not the exclusive provenance of any individual or any group.
In this book, Barry Spector, a furniture mover, a father, a grandfather, has given us a way to talk to each other about what we see and feel around us. It is a book that frames the conversation we so urgently need to have with one another in both an entirely new and an entirely old way.
It is a book that calls forth equal effort from its reader--a commitment to see it through, step by step to the end. It is not a book for the faint at heart but it rewards the effort by shifting our way of seeing things--everything.
It is as complex a book as any individual human being is complex--a profoundly human expression--filled with ideas but not ideological--nor is it linear, nor academic--though heavily researched and footnoted.
As silence--pauses define our experience of music or spoken word, so too one must pause frequently in the reading of this book. Sitting with the words, allows us to begin to re-imagine our world, the fundamental call we hear in Spector's words.
Read the book. Commit to the effort and go from there.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If ever a book deserved to be called humorless, this is it. Spector spends so much time
excoriating the United States, he doesn't even pause to look in the mirror. Read more
Of all the books I've read over the years this one is clearly at the top of my list as one of, if not, the best. Thought-provoking. Thoroughly researched. Highly informative. Read morePublished on April 20, 2013 by Richard Fishenden
It is a testament to the compelling metaphor of Madness at the Gates of the City: The Myth of American Innocence that I have not been able to prevent myself from referring items in... Read morePublished on January 14, 2012 by Claire Ortalda
Barry Spector's book, Madness at the Gates of the City: The Myth of American Innocence is a profound and disturbing look at the way we view the world and why the current American... Read morePublished on July 11, 2011 by J. Fadiman
I found Barry Spector's book a challenging but greatly rewarding read. As one who has been reading mythology for years as a guide towards approaching the complexities of life in... Read morePublished on March 3, 2011 by Ralph Bartholomew
Madness at the Gates of the City, the myth of American Innocence by Barry Spector is a brilliant opening of the mythic mind to that vacuous desert we find strung between politics,... Read morePublished on November 29, 2010 by David Bean
Through the classics, one can gain a intriguing look at the status of modern America. "Madness at the Gates of the City: The Myth of American Innocence" uses the lens of Greek... Read morePublished on November 11, 2010 by Midwest Book Review