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Book Review: Beyond Civilization



Over the next few months I aim to provide a number of capsule reviews of great books that readers will find helpful for Mobilizing.  If we want to re-imagine and re-build the world to be more fair and more sustainable, it’s good to know that we do not need to start from scratch.  In fact there are decades of good examples and existing methods that have / are now happening.  And luckily many of the people involved have taken the time to write down that they have learned, so we can get to our goals faster.

It’s also true, though, that in this “modern” era everyone feels very busy, and that they have little time to read books.  I get that, I do.  So I will make sure to only recommend works that are 100% on topic and worth the investment of time you will put into them.  You can study in your own pace, and read them in any order.  And by all means provide feedback as you go along.

That said, if you are only going to read one book, read this one.  “Beyond Civilization”, by Daniel Quinn, is a non-fiction book of short essays that was first published in the 1990’s.  Quinn is far more famous for his trilogy of novels that began with “Ishmael”, but we’ll discuss those another day.  BC is a very accessible book, meant to be read quickly.

Why should you care?  Well, mostly because he lays out a very clear overview of how our planet got into this mess, and more importantly, how we can alter course.  Any writer worth their salt can fill out a book decrying the problems that face society.  Quinn glances on that topic; and then moves onto the meat of the matter – why we keep making bad choices and examples of groups that made good ones.  It turns out that history offers up many lessons that most folks have simply overlooked.  Working from those lessons and examples, he then shares insights from a long life of study.  Put simply, you should care about this book because it will open up possibilities for solutions, not just be a grocery list of problems that you likely already know plenty about.

Beyond Civilization, by Daniel Quinn, published by Broadway books.  For those who seek to avoid the corporate behemoth that is Amazon, one might try instead Alibris – dot – com.  They work with Mom-and-Pop book sellers in Mexico, the USA, and Canada.  Most books cost around 3 bucks or so.


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