5.0 out of 5 starsBrilliant, Intricate, Non-Violent, and Optimistic, November 4, 2014
In relation to the 2,000 plus non-fiction books I have reviewed here at Amazon, this book is brilliant. Normally I would consider giving it four stars for lacking an index and endnotes, obviously needed for the poorly educated morons that cannot grasp the many (many) direct references to top authors and thinkers. For crying out loud, Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century is received by the author in his home and cited in this book, as are so many others. So a solid five stars for impact and self-made erudition.
Let me state very clearly that the publisher has sodomized this author by not including an index, a bibliography, or endnotes. As the top Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, reviewing books across 98 distinct non-fiction categories, I am blown away by the clever, poetic, and pointed manner in which the author has integrated a vast (vast) range of reading and personal conversations into this book.
We all know the system isn’t working. Our governments are corrupt and the opposing parties pointlessly similar. Our culture is filled with vacuity and pap, and we are told there’s nothing we can do: “It’s just the way things are.”
In this book, Russell Brand hilariously lacerates the straw men and paper tigers of our conformist times and presents, with the help of experts as diverse as Thomas Piketty and George Orwell, a vision for a fairer, sexier society that’s fun and inclusive.
You have been lied to, told there’s no alternative, no choice, and that you don’t deserve any better. Brand destroys this illusory facade as amusingly and deftly as he annihilates Morning Joe anchors, Fox News fascists, and BBC stalwarts.
This book makes revolution not only possible but inevitable and fun.
Stewart Brand didn’t just happen to be around when the personal computer came into being; he’s the one who put “personal” and “computer” together in the same sentence and introduced the concept to the world. He wasn’t just a member of the world’s first open online community, the Well; he co-founded it. And he wasn’t just another of those 60s acid casualties; he was the definitive 60s acid casualty. Well, not casualty exactly, but he was there taking LSD in the days when it was still legal, with the most famous hipster of them all, Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters.
For nearly five decades, Stewart Brand has been hanging around the cutting edge of whatever is the most cutting thing of the day. Largely because he’s discovered it and become fascinated with it long before anyone else has even noticed it but, in retrospect, it does make him seem like the west coast’s answer to Zelig, the Woody Allen character who just happens to pop up at key moments in history. Because no one pops up like Stewart Brand pops up, right there, just on the cusp of something momentous.
Surprising, Challenges, Perhaps Wrong on Some Points,September 13, 2011
This book is an absorbing read, and several of the top reviews are very useful to anyone considering buying the book (also available in paperback, Amazon is now NOT crossing reviews over from different forms, a mistake in my view, but perhaps motivated by their trying to give the millions of new reviewers a starting point against those of us who have been reviewing books on Amazon for eleven years.
This book can read at multiple levels, and I dare to say that to reach each additional level, a second and third reading of the book is required.
Level 1: An overview of books that Stewart Brand has read and his general sense of the world.
Level 2: A deeper engagement with his thinking on climate change, urbanization, and biotechnology
Level 3: A very deep and necessarily skeptical reading of his book, mindful of many areas where he may be wrong while appreciating the extraordinary lifetime of intellectual and ethical leadership that he brings to bear–this is the man who created Co-Evolution Quarterly, Whole Earth Review, the Silicon Valley Hacker’s Conference that I was elected to in 1994 and am attending this year (4-6 November), and the Clock of the Long Now, as well as Global Business Network and other initiatives. He is in brief, one of a dozen minds I consider “root” for whatever good we might muster in the USA in the near term, along with Tom Atlee and a handful of others.
Howard Rheingold, then editor of the Whole Earth Review (WER) gave us access to all past issues of WER, and permission to select and print this special collection of authors and idea relevant to the Revolution in Intelligence Affairs (RIA). All of it remains relevant because both government and industry have chosen to remain on an industrial-era path that over-stresses centralized control, corporate copyright, and technology instead of thinking.
Here is a tiny sampling from that collection, all 75 items free online.
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the most important — certainly the most thought-provoking — book in years
October 22, 2009
Review by Jesse Kornbluth
Book by Stewart Brand
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.
Howard Rheingold may well have been the first pioneer to fall down into the chasm of cyberspace and the write about it. As Editor of the Whole Earth Review, following in the footsteps of founder Stewart Brand, he has consistently been on the bleeding edge of both righteous living for a Whole Earth, and the bleeding edge of technology and the human mind. Below are links to his books, the first of which, Tools for Thinking, catalyzed deep soul-searching within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) which at the time (1986) had nothing to offer such as Howard envisioned. He was, with John Perry Barlow, one of the two speakers at OSS ’92 who challenged virtually every aspect of the secret intelligence paradigm.
Truly Extraordinary–Core Reading for Future of Earth- Man,
September 29, 2002
I confess to being dumb. Although I know and admire the author, who has spoken at my conference, when the book came out I thought–really dumb, but I mention it because others may have made the same mistake–that it was about building a cute clock in the middle of the desert.Wrong, wrong, wrong (I was). Now, three years late but better late than never, on the recommendation of a very dear person I have read this book in detail and I find it to be one of the most extraordinary books–easily in the top ten of the 300+ books I have reviewed on Amazon.
At it’s heart, this book, which reflects the cummulative commitment of not only the author but some other brilliant avant guarde mind including Danny Hillis, Kevin Kelly (WIRED, Out of Control, the Rise of Neo-Biological Civilization), Esther Dyson, Mitch Kapor (Lotus, Electronic Frontier Foundation) and a few others, is about reframing the way people–the entire population of the Earth–think, moving them from the big now toward the Long Here, taking responsibility for acting as it every behavior will impact on the 10,000 year long timeframe.
This book is in the best traditions of our native American forebears (as well as other cultures with a long view), always promoting a feedback-decision loop that carefully considered the impact on the “seventh generation.” That’s 235 years or so, or more.
The author has done a superb job of drawing on the thinking of others (e.g. Freeman Dyson, Esther’s father) in considering the deep deep implications for mankind of thinking in time (a title popularized, brilliantly, by Ernest May and Richard Neustadt of Harvard), while adding his own integrative and expanding ideas.
He joints Lee Kuan Yew, brilliant and decades-long grand-father of Asian prosperity and cohesiveness, in focusing on culture and the long-term importance of culture as the glue for patience and sound long-term decision-making. His focus on the key principles of longevity, maintainability, transparency, evolvability, and scalability harken back to his early days as the editor of the Whole Earth Review (and Catalog) and one comes away from this book feeling that Stewart Brand is indeed the “first pilot” of Spaceship Earth.
It is not possible and would be inappropriate to try to summarize all the brilliant insights in this work. From the ideas of others to his own, from the “Responsibility Record” to using history as a foundation for dealing with rapid change, to the ideas for a millenium library to the experienced comments on how to use scenarios to reach consensus among conflicted parties as to mutual interests in the longer-term future, this is–the word cannot be overused in this case–an extraordinary book from an extraordinary mind.
This book is essential reading for every citizen-voter-taxpayer, and ends with an idea for holding politicians accountable for the impact of their decisions on the future. First class, world class. This is the book that sets the stage for the history of the future.