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This Tree Grows Out of Hell: Mesoamerica & the Search for the Magical Body (Living Planet Book) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Living Planet Book
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling; Revised edition (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402748825
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402748820
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,828,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ptolemy Tompkins is the author of Paradise Fever (a memoir focusing on the years in the mid-seventies when his father, Secret Life of Plants author Peter Tompkins, became obsessed with finding the lost continent of Atlantis in the waters off Florida), The Beaten Path (an examination of the good and not-so-good things that happen when one takes the teachings of popular modern wisdom authors like Alan Watts and Carlos Castaneda too seriously) and This Tree Grows Out of Hell (a spiritual history of the Maya and Aztec cultures focusing on their disturbing preoccupation with bloodshed). For just under ten years he was an in-house editor at Guideposts and Angels On Earth magazines. His work there led him to writing The Divine Life of Animals and The Modern Book of the Dead, a duo of books arguing for the continuing validity of the human belief in postmortem survival. The Modern Book of the Dead in turn led him to Dr. Eben Alexander, with whom he worked very closely -- if largely invisibly -- to produce Dr. Alexander's bestselling Proof of Heaven.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Edward Ludd on January 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a brilliant book. I've re-read it many times. A previous reviewer wrote that he did a net search on the author and discovered he was a "70's guru." Not so. His father was the weird one. His son, the author of this book, is a respected scholar.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Dawson on July 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm astonished by the political correctness of the main editorial review at the top of this page. It suggests that the book was written to be a mirror on the modern day, that we have much to learn from ancient mesoamerican culture.

Make no mistake, this is an excellent book. But what it really shows us is the depths of horror and depravity that was pre-conquest mesoamerican culture. The Aztecs were monsters, but their only invention was in the refining of the horrors the Mayans, whom they conquered from within.

The author provides details of the depravity of the Aztecs. This is not a book for the squeamish.

One of the key points of this book is that all the client peoples of the Aztecs hated the Aztecs so much that the moment a new power (the Spanish) arrived, the subject people flocked to them because they simply could not imagine any other situation that could be worse than life under the Aztecs. And no, I'm not an apologist for the Spanish--neither am I willing to excuse the brutal, homicidal native culture that thankfully is gone now.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It isn't often that you read a book that so deftly communicates the cosmic framework of an ancient culture. However, it is obvious that Tompkins' take on the archeological evidence of ritual and religion left by the Olmecs, Aztecs and Mayans is written within the framework of modern culture. Of course, any academic will translate an ancienct culture of which he has no first hand knowledge via his own ideologies, so it is silly to critique it, as the other reviewer has, in such a way. This book is a refreshing look at religion and spirituality in mesoameria, and is a good resource for anyone seeking knowledge about shamanism as well.
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2 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "egonz" on January 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am half way from completing this book and I can not read any further. I began to notice a nagging sense of moral superiority from the author that I found objectionable. The author constantly compares the Mayas and the Aztecs to other shamanistic cultures and each time points out how the shamanistic society was obviously superior. I thought it was odd early on when he routinely quoted from books that discussed Eskimo and Sioux shamans. I was confused as to what this had to do with Mesoamerican religion and culture. Granted they are all Native Americans, but this book claimed to concern itself only with Mesoamerica. He also spent much of the book expressing how the mistake of the Mesoamericans was in their building of cities, that this represented a Fall from the Eden of the shamanistic society. After becoming fed up with this tripe I did a search online for the author and I learned that according to one description he was "one of the most colorful gurus of the '70s' New Age movement". I finally fully comprehended why I hated this book so much.
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