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Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto Hardcover – October 15, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brand, co-author of the seminal 1969 Whole Earth Catalog, compiles reflections and lessons learned from more than 40 years as an environmentalist in this clumsy yet compelling attempt to inspire practicable solutions to climate change. Brand haphazardly organizes his manifesto into chapters that address environmental stewardship opportunities, exhorting environmentalists to become fearless about following science; his iconoclastic proposals include transitioning to nuclear energy and ecosystem engineering. Brand believes environmentalists must embrace nuclear energy expansion and other inevitable technological advances, and refreshingly suggests a shift in the environmentalists' dogmatic approach to combating climate change. Rejecting the inflexible message so common in the Green movement, he describes a process of reasonable debate and experimentation. Brand's fresh perspective, approachable writing style and manifest wisdom ultimately convince the reader that the future is not an abyss to be feared but an opportunity for innovative problem solvers to embrace enthusiastically. (Oct.)
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Review

'Now the new style of environmentalism has a worthy prophet, Stewart Brand, and a bible, Whole Earth Discipline.' Financial Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021215
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on October 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was interviewing George Soros as the Dow rapidly shed 300 points and crashed through the 10,000 level.

"Is this it?" I asked.

Soros shrugged --- a very calm reaction from an investor who might have seen his portfolio shrink by hundreds of millions of dollars in a matter of minutes.

I lost much less that day, but I had a different reaction --- panic. The thing to do, I concluded, was to trade my beloved Classic 6 in Manhattan for a self-sustaining house in the country. Ten acres would suffice, as long as they had decent water, land suitable for a large garden and enough sunlight for the solar panels.

I bought a URL for the web site I planned to launch: [...]. This was no back-to-the-land hippie retreat. I would be stepping into the smart future: small town/rural purity (Woodsmoke) with the 21st century benefits of a fast Internet (Broadband) and Amazon.com's free shipping.

Given all that, you will understand that I was quite stunned to read "Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto" --- by Stewart Brand, creator of the 1960s and 1970s classic, the "Whole Earth Catalog" --- and discover that the last place its author would have me go is back to the land.

In these pages, Stewart Brand lays out a mind-blowing vision for the planet's salvation: migration to the cities, power generated by mini-nuclear reactors, healthier crops through genetic engineering.

This may well be the most important book I'll read this year. Certainly, it's the most aggressively optimistic book that's also closely reported --- Brand's a student who shows his work. Granted, a lot of it is technical. Skip those pages. Just read with a pencil. Mark what seems important and/or drives you crazy.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the most revealing and compelling of Stewart Brand's writings to date, and I've read pretty much everything he has written in the past 40+ years. Brand is a conceptual artist whose medium is words. He specializes in developing, creating, and promulgating interesting and useful perspectives. Somehow he always manages to find whatever is exciting, important, or cool about whatever he is investigating and to reframe the subject at hand to make you want to learn more. His reframings are powerful. They are aimed to give you a new and improved perspective and point of view, and that is what they do, but they do so with your informed consent.

A lot of people have looked into squatter cities and shanty towns, but Brand does a better job of showing how they are part of an organic and evolutionary and even in some ways positive, optimistic process than most others I've read. There has been a lot of shouting on all sides of the debate on nuclear energy -- this is a really good attempt to get the pros and cons on the table in rational discourse and (mostly) dispense with the flame wars. Same goes for the discussions of genetically engineered crops and geo-engineering. We desperately need a much higher quality public dialog on all these subjects, and this book is a real contribution toward putting all these issues on the table in a discussable format. Stewart is right -- the time for allowing ideology and sentimentality to stand in front of what science is telling us is over, and we are going to be forced as a society to make some difficult decisions relating to the future of our climate and the management of our ecosystems.
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Format: Hardcover
I have long considered myself to be a pragmatist without a cause. Nonetheless, I have been fully convinced by reading this book that the time to start a major overhaul in the way we think about global issues is RIGHT NOW. Stewart Brand does a fantastic job laying the facts bare in a way that will convince anyone from the most rational pragmatist to the most ardent environmentalist that we need to start fixing our civilization RIGHT NOW. Not only that, but we must use every tool and technology that we have invented to help us achieve this goal.

His warnings are dire, but hopeful. His advice is strongly worded, but entirely justified. If you are looking for a rational voice in the debate about climate change, genetically modified organisms, the overpopulation "problem" and other issues whose specter is now cast over the future of our species, you must read this book.

It is rare to find a book that is balanced, informative and wholly engaging -- this is one of them.
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Format: Hardcover
When Stewart Brand captured a generation's imagination 40 years ago with The Whole Earth Catalog, his motto was "We are as gods, and might as well get good at it." With this book, as humankind confronts climate change and other vast, urgent threats largely of its own making, the motto has matured: "We are as gods and HAVE to get good at it." Brand's magisterial tour of urbanization, biotechnology, climate change, energy and agriculture is a feast of surprises, unorthodox opinions, startling insights, wry observations, and moments of reverence and wonder that will inspire and energize productive, practical people everywhere, whether they consider themselves green or not. I don't know if there is a National Book Award for manifestos ... but hey, there wasn't a National Book Award for catalogs when Brand's first great book won, back in the day. And never mind prizes; Whole Earth Discipline offers us a way for humankind to save its own skin.
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