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The Fifth Sacred Thing by [Starhawk]
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The Fifth Sacred Thing Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 192 customer reviews

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Length: 496 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her sometimes clumsy but compelling first novel, the author of The Spiral Dance (a central work in the women's spirituality movement) considers two possible futures for America. In ecologically devastated mid-21st-century California, San Francisco is a precariously maintained oasis, its society based on egalitarianism and environmentalism, its deeply spiritual populace possessed of psychic and mystical powers. Drought-plagued southern California suffers under an oppressive, militaristic, technocratic regime that spouts a perverted Christian ideology. After 20 years of uneasy peace, the south's armies mass to invade the north, whose militantly nonviolent denizens must decide how to defend themselves without compromising their pacifism. Starhawk delivers her message with a heavy hand and several cliches: her besieged utopia echoes the liberal politics and ecofeminism of her nonfiction; her dystopia features the overused SF bugbear of Christian fanaticism. However, she creates memorable characters--a young midwife, a broken musician, an old Witch-Woman--and skillfully conveys their emotions in gripping, sometimes harrowing scenes set against vivid backdrops. Though the resolution is somewhat pat--and an obvious plug for Starhawk's philosophy--the story is moving and absorbing.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Known for her works in women's spirituality and ecofeminism, Starhawk has conjured a visionary tale of a multicultural community of witches where poverty, prejudice, hunger, and thirst do not prevail. The surrounding world, set in present-day San Francisco, manifests every 20th-century nightmare: ozone depletion, deadly pollution, a fundamentalist religion-based government, and food and water shortages. The central question haunting a community of well-cast characters is how to resist invading Southern forces without resorting to violence. This strong debut fits well among feminist futuristic, utopic, and dystopic works by the likes of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ursula LeGuin, and Margaret Atwood. Starhawk is the author of The Spiral Dance ( LJ 11/1/79), Dreaming the Dark ( LJ 9/15/82), and Truth or Dare (HarperSanFrancisco, 1989). Recomended for literary collections.
- Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1532 KB
  • Print Length: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (August 10, 2011)
  • Publication Date: August 10, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003EJDGLE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,852 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I, too had this book on my shelf for several years before I actually read it. Although it obviously sounded good enough at the time I bought it, I feared that it would be preachy and overbearing. It was nothing of the sort. The characters are complex; flawed at times, saintly at others. The story is compelling, combining plots about the personal growth of the various characters, adventure stories as Bird escapes from prison and Madrone ventures into the southern wilds to help the freedom fighters, and the ultimate show down between the San Franciscans and the Stewards. It is a bit simplistic, perhaps, but that didn't stop me from wishing things in reality were more like they are in Maya and Madrone's world. The attempts to portray this world as one free of any racial or sexual bigotry do get a bit heavy handed at times, but never so much that it interfered with my enjoyment of the story. I would recommend this book to anyone, and in fact immediately after I finished ran out and bought a copy to give as a gift this Christmas.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Over the last few years I've reread this book time and time again and always find it as deeply moving and inspiring as the first time I read it. Periodically, I buy this book for friends and when I do, I come back to this page and read the reviews. The reason this book is so remarkable is that it deals with a human truth so fundamental as to often be missed: You can't change society until you transform human consciousness. No legislation, no religious movement, no self-help group, no philosophy is going to do it. Only each individual human being learning how to be aware, to find their own unique spiritual expression, to practice tolerance of the lifestyles and the spiritual belief systems of others will make a fundamental difference. When each individual person knows the earth is sacred in a personal, experiential and intimate way because they have taken the time to BE with the world, only then will we truly find ways to preserve and protect it. In the San Francisco portrayed in this novel, no child goes unnurtured or uneducated, no one goes hungry, no person is without a home. It's a sad situation when we have to think of this state of affairs as "science fiction." Almost every person who falls between the cracks in our society starts out in life with a family and a community. Perhaps we can't help everyone, but if each person just did what was in front of him or her to do, there would be less suffering in the world. The building of solid community and healthy inter-dependence is another key to this novel. We live isolated lives but, truly, we need each other. We are stronger when we are connected with others. There is a verse in the Bible that says, "A people without a vision perish." This book provides a vision, a starting point that is valuable and practical and useful.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Starhawk starts out giving us an amazingly Utopian Wiccan vision of the future in San Francisco, a place that while it seems Wicca has "won out," other religions are respected as well. When I am down I read the first chapter of this book to bring me back up again.
Arrayed against this oasis of sanity Starhawk gives us an Evil General bent of invasion and destruction of this wonderful place. If the book has a fault its that most of the "bad guys" remain somewhat cardboard. It seems that Starhawk has concentrated her efforts on that she knows best.
Having said that, the author pulls no punches. While the book starts out Utopian and peaceful the price that is paid for that oasis is anything but. Real people, the good people we care about (and the people who Starhawk seems to concentrate her character abilities on) pay a heavy price to keep and defend their way of life. Its a good reminder that good may triumph over evil only if good works at it real hard.
The Fifth Sacred Thing is a fairy tale with teeth. If you are a fan of Starhawk's non-fiction books then you must read this one to see how she sees her real-life ideas put into practice. I'd also recommend it as a book for Wiccans to give to their friends as a tale of how Wiccan morality can work well.
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Format: Paperback
I love this book. I didn't like it at first, but I decided to give it an hour before I made up my mind. Now I am really glad I stuck with it, because it is one of the richest, most thought-provoking books I have ever read.

One of the greatest questions is - how do people resist the violent advances of others without becoming violent themselves? We can look to others for inspiration - HH the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, MLK - there have been a few who have managed to hold on to their ideals despite the crimes inflicted upon them. But how do we do this ourselves? How do we maintain peace within ourselves?

This book discusses these issues on a societal level, but the wisdom you will gain can be applied on a personal level. You will likely find yourself rethinking how you view numerous things - from illness to monogamy.

And the story is interesting and creative, with characters you will come to care about. This is a fantastic book. Go ahead and give it some time - you will probably love it, too!
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