Review: The New Story – Storytelling as a Pathway to Peace

5 Star, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Democracy, Diplomacy, Education (General), Environment (Solutions), Information Society, Intelligence (Public), Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Priorities, Stabilization & Reconstruction, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon UK Page
Amazon Page

Inger Lise Oelrich

5.0 out of 5 stars Addresses a Major Vacuum in Our Approach to Any Challenge, 16 Dec 2014

This is a hugely important book that I hope will become popular in the USA, and translated into other languages. I learned of its existence while attending a Findhorn Foundation event in Scotland, “The New Story Summit.” At one point there was a discussion of how United Nations “peacekeepers” are sent in to keep the peace but do so at the point of a gun, without any training in human interaction or the fundamentals of story-telling, narrative weaving, listening, observing, and all the other human “arts.” This one story impressed me greatly.

Having now read the book, I want to emphasize my enchantment by confessing that I am a Naked Truth kind of person, the diametric opposite of the Story Teller. As with UN peacekeepers, I have been badly trained, equipped, and organized for a world in which conversation and story-telling are alternatives to confrontation and violence.

Although the author and the book focus on the role of story-telling in relation to peace-making, I would emphasize its value in creating common prosperity at well — in creating the means of self-governance with respect for the limits of nature and the importance of doing no harm.

The book consists of 12 chapters, among them chapters on Being Moved, on Learning to See, and on Community of Belonging. There is also a strong chapter on technology as a negative, and I am reminded of Jerry Mander and Bill McKibbin, among others. Within those 12 chapters are 33 exercises and many stories as well as provocative quotes. This is a very well put-together book, one that should be listed at Amazon USA and not limited to Amazon UK (US buyers can order it, but they cannot “see” the book at Amazon USA, they have to search for it globally first).

For me — someone who clearly needs instruction in this vital domain — the bottom line from this book is clear: story-telling is a means of opening minds, heightening consciousness, building bridges, reducing mis-understandings, healing souls, and generally connecting and reconnecting people to one another and to nature.

As a Naked Truth kind of person, I am constantly reminded by this book that absolutes are not helpful — stories allow for contextual nuance and can avoid the black or white objectivism that characterizes Webberian bureaucracy, modern stove-piped government, rule by secrecy, and corporate misbehavior cloaked in scientific rationalism.

Fully half the training having to do with story-telling revolves around listening — not speaking, but listening. Learning to see. Learning to hear. Learning to feel. Learning to embrace empathy. Being non-judgmental.

Above all else, story-telling leaps across all boundaries — story-tellers without borders are easily as important as doctors or engineers without borders. What I draw from this book is that story-telling is a form of human engagement that makes creative emergence possible. It “stirs the pot” and opens up possibilities that could never be achieved in a traditional confrontation between teams of negotiators seeking to dominate any given outcome.

The book ends with reflections on how we might pursue story-telling to advance truth and reconciliation while addressing the many obstacles to progress including complacency.

The author was honored in 2014 with selection as Chair of the Storytelling and Peace Council. One can learn more at

Rather than link to ten specific titles as I normally do, I want to point readers to my lists of book reviews at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog (Reviews), where I have organized — with direct links to each book's Amazon page, lists focusing on, among many other topics, complexity and resilience, consciousness and social IQ, and truth & reconcilation.

This is a fine book for self-study and self-awareness, but it is best used as a group study guide with the exercises being undertaken by groups of at least a dozen people at a time.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
The Open Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth, & Trust

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