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The History of Last Night's Dream: Discovering the Hidden Path to the Soul (Plus) Paperback – Bargain Price, August 19, 2008

19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kamenetz's newest work continues his exploration of the Jewish tradition down yet another path: that of dreams. Like Jacob, who wrestles with God in the famous biblical dream, a leitmotif in the book, the author of the bestselling The Jew in the Lotus wrestles with personal, religious and cultural history in an ambitious quest to revivify the language of dreams. Kamenetz offers a psychological-cum-mystical version of Susan Sontag's watershed Against Interpretation. Don't interpret dreams, he cautions, as he lays out another way to meet and greet the nightly messages of human brains. Kamenetz offers a post-Jungian, semiarchetypal, image-centered view of dream meaning. He does so in the context of a historical overview of dream interpretation that also locates dreams in the realm of Jewish mysticism. Narratives of encounters with spiritual teachers are also part of this amalgam of a book that seems to have changed shape over time and through personal discovery. This is a disarming, hard-to-summarize, well-written and idiosyncratic book that will find a distinct audience that appreciates its reflective quirkiness. Readers who have enjoyed Kamenetz's other journeys through Judaism will follow with surprise and pleasure his next steps along a winding spiritual path. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Kamenetz has written a manual for living the dream of life through the real dreams of an individual.” (Andrei Codrescu, NPR Commentator )

“A profound, affecting and deeply rewarding book from a charismatic teacher.” (Jonathan Kirsch, author of A History of the End of the World )

“Kamenetz’s new book brilliantly combines dream and soul and offers an accessible understanding of both. I highly recommend it.” (Brian L. Weiss, M.D., author of Many Lives, Many Masters )

“An enchanting and provocative book exploring a subject with profound implications about our very humanity.” (Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize Winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain )

“[A] powerful and beautifully written book.” (Stephen J. Dubner, bestelling co-author of Freakanomics )

“Kamenetz’s fierce honesty and unflinching self-revelation inspire both admiration and awe [...] [A] smart, funny, and revolutionary book...” (Susan Larson, New Orleans Times-Picayune )

“Rodger Kamenetz writes in this fascinating book that words, too many words, stand between us and our dreams.” (Los Angeles Times )

“The History of Last Night’s Dream is at once affable and audacious; Kamenetz is a reliable narrator in unreliable territory.... Kamenetz’s poetic eye is alive and well.” (The Forward )

“Rodger Kamenetz’s vividly honest and well-reswearched book on dreams in Western culture is extraordinary-- in part for its defiance of genre...Before I read it had heard Kamenetz refer to it as a memoir, but it as much an argument for a paradigm shift in dream interpretation.” (The Christian Century )

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Product Details

  • Series: Plus
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (August 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061237949
  • ASIN: B003H4RCLQ
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,044,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rodger Kamenetz is an award-winning poet, author and teacher. Of his eleven books, his best known is The Jew in the Lotus, the story of rabbis making a holy pilgrimage through India to meet with the Dalai Lama. His account of their historic dialogue became an international bestseller, prompting a reevaluation of Judaism in the light of Buddhist thought. Now in its twentieth year of publication and its 35th printing overall, The Jew in the Lotus is a staple of college religion courses. The New York Times called it a "revered text." A PBS documentary followed, and a sequel, Stalking Elijah, won him the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought.

Kamenetz's six books of poetry include To Die Next To You and The Lowercase Jew. He has been called "the most formidable of the Jewish-American poets." His memoir, Terra Infirma was described as "one of the most beautiful books ever written about a mother and a son."

When The History of Last Night's Dream appeared in 2007, Oprah Winfrey interviewed him on her "Soul Series" program, saying, "What's so exciting about this book is that it talks about how there's a whole other life that we are living when we sleep and that our dreams are there as offerings and gifts to us if we only recognize what the dreams are there to teach us."

Kamenetz's latest work of non-fiction 2010's Burnt Books, in Schocken/Nextbook's Jewish Encounters series, once again crosses boundaries, between literature and religion. It begins as a dual biography of Franz Kafka and Rebbe Nachman, who each asked his best friend to burn his books. It ends with Kamenetz on his own pilgrimage to Kafka's Prague and to the rebbe's grave in Ukraine.

Born in Baltimore, Rodger Kamenetz has degrees from Yale, Johns Hopkins and Stanford. At Louisiana State University, he held a dual appointment as a Professor of English and Professor of Religious Studies and founded the MFA program in creative writing and the Jewish Studies minor. He retired as LSU Distinguished Professor and Sternberg Honors Chair Professor. He lives in New Orleans where he devotes himself now to his work with clients who seek spiritual direction through dreams.

For more information about Rodger Kamenetz, visit his website at, or meet him on Facebook, or follow him on twitter at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Amanda C. Bosky on October 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I love to dream. I have always believed dreams are important but never knew quite what to do with them besides record them in journals. I feel like the author handed me a toolbox when he wrote this book. I could have floundered on my own for years and never come to one tenth of these conclusions on my own. I especially appreciate Kamenetz's intense honesty and openness in sharing his own dreams and life experiences.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By G. Buglion on August 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Reading The History of Last Night's dream is like looking into the open door of a private home - only instead of seeing the furniture and decor - you get to feel into Kammenetz's soul. I am awed by his honesty and the 'direct hit' the dreams have for propelling him into what really appears to be true inner growth.I found that it started a little slow - but keep reading! It will blow your mind - and change your ideas about dreams!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lifelonglearner on August 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
There are three audiences for this book: (1) those interested in the Book of Genesis and the historical Jewish perspective on dreams, (2) professional psychotherapists/counselors who do dream interpretation for their clients roughly following the Freudian approach, and (3) the man/woman on the street who wants to understand what his/her dreams mean, especially those that are recurrent or that seem especially "important" upon awakening. Consequently, as another reviewer observed, the text is "clunky", with the three perspectives rather roughly tied together. Not being Jewish, I read the historical/book of Genesis review, which seemed thorough, with mild interest. I'm not a professional psychologist, but if you are and your training was in Freudian dream interpretation, you owe it to yourself and your clients to read this book, including Kamenetz's critical review of Freud's theory of dream interpretation. If, like me, you are a man or woman on the street, this book will provide a non-Freudian grounding for working productively with your dreams. Where Kamenetz shares his own dreams and the development of his understanding of them, the narrative is compelling reading.

The fact that neither Bregman nor Kamenetz is a trained or licensed therapist does not automatically disqualify them from competence. Before modern societies started formally licensing practitioners and requiring specific educational programs, indigenous societies identified individuals within their midst who exhibited special abilities, such as shamen and other healers. Requiring formal licensing may go to legal liability or social status, but not necessarily competence. Lastly, if Freudian and/or Jungian dream interpretation were so darn successful, why would Kamenetz or any of us need to read another book on dreams?
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Seth Mullins on August 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
The History of Last Night's Dream is part spiritual autobiography and part historical analysis of how exactly the "revelation dream" lost its eminent status in early biblical times and how it is now reasserting itself in quiet, rural Vermont; reasserting itself in a way that is profoundly changing lives for the better. In the process, author Roger Kamenetz reveals how his own life was impacted, and finally transformed, by his dreams.

This book provides a gentle introduction to a psychological and spiritual path known as Archetypal Dreamwork. It's written with enough scholarly background and credentials to quiet (or perhaps even please?) skeptical intellectuals. The particular method of working with dreams that was pioneered by Marc Bregman is probably not very palpable fare for the masses. But when it's presented by an author who's already made a name for himself with his penetrating religious studies - and, what's more, it's presented in the humble form of a human journey that becomes more and more personal as the story unfolds - the result is a book that may just be what this seemingly-esoteric path to spiritual healing and evolution needs to catch the eye of the mainstream. The fact that Roger recently shared his insights about the Work on Oprah's radio show seems to support my hunch...

One's own healing is the greatest message of hope that can be imparted to others; and Roger Kamenetz has, within these pages, enshrined that hope with eloquence, honesty, courage, exhaustively-researched fact, and a healthy dose of wry wit and humor to wash it all down. Highly recommended for seekers (I suspect that there are more of us now than ever before) on all roads to the Mystery of the Soul.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Anders Pytte on August 29, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an eye opening book. Dream work, as opposed to dream interpretation, involves developing a deeper and deeper relationship with the soul until you begin to see yourself as God sees you. It is transformative, and this is what Kamenetz's book is about. He presents some erudite background in the beginning of the book. He then describes his own journey into his soul in vulnerable and poignant terms, and how he was changed by the experience. I was inspired and moved. Thank you, Mr. Kamenetz.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Patsy Hickey on August 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
A powerful story of a seeker who found what he was looking for. From Israel to Denmark to a small town in rural Vermont, Kamenetz chases the dream until he catches up with it. This story of Kamenetz's awakening to the power of his own dreaming is heartbreaking, moving, and enlightening. This book may well change our collective view of dreaming forever. Even more phenomenal, though, is that Kamenetz has given each of us---dreamers all---a chance to finally hear what our dreams have been trying to tell us all along.
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