A Reenchanted World

The Quest for a New Kinship with Nature

James William Gibson

Metropolitan Books

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A surprising and enlightening investigation of how modern society is making nature sacred once again

For more than two centuries, Western cultures, as they became ever more industrialized, increasingly regarded the natural world as little more than a collection of useful raw resources. The folklore of powerful forest spirits and mountain demons was displaced by the practicalities of logging and strip-mining; the traditional rituals of hunting ceremonies gave way to the indiscriminate butchering of animals for meat markets. In the famous lament of Max Weber, our surroundings became "disenchanted," with nature’s magic swept away by secularization and rationalization.

But now, as acclaimed sociologist James William Gibson reveals in this insightful study, the culture of enchantment is making an astonishing comeback. From Greenpeace eco-warriors to evangelical Christians preaching "creation care" and geneticists who speak of human-animal kinship, Gibson finds a remarkably broad yearning for a spiritual reconnection to nature. As we grapple with increasingly dire environmental disasters, he points to this cultural shift as the last utopian dream—the final hope for protecting the world that all of us must live in.

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Book Excerpts

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Introduction 

Call of the Wild

 

Like Special Forces commandos, the L.A. County Sheriff's Deputies and Firefighters came at 2:00 am, when they knew their enemy would be asleep. Earlier that day, a force of two hundred had secured a perimeter around the camp, cutting off all sources of outside resupply, while a small reconnaissance team managed to steal most of the man's food and water. After a seventy-one-day siege, the lone warrior knew the end was coming and chained himself into place for one last stand.

 

The assault came off with military precision.

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Reviews

Praise for A Reenchanted World

“Of all the holes in the human heart, perhaps none is bigger than the space once occupied by our connections to wild things and the rhythms of nature. A Reenchanted World reveals the many ways in which our self-imposed exile from our original network of natural relationships is civilization’s most disorienting misstep. Fortunately for us, James William Gibson gives us a compass back to that very sane, very grounded place. This is a wisely haunting, soulful book.”
Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and Voyage of the Turtle
 
 
“A fast-paced and highly rewarding account of the struggle to realize a deeper consciousness of the human relationship with nature—before it is too late.”
James Gustave Speth, author of The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability
 
 
“An important history of the reconnection with our animal origins. Gibson’s charting of the slow, rocky road to human awareness of our place in the natural world is well worth reading.”
Benjamin Kilham, author of Among the Bears: Raising Orphan Cubs in the Wild
 
 
“Maybe just in time (and maybe not), we are rediscovering the world that we had buried under a mountain of abstractions—‘economy,’ ‘culture,’ ‘faith.’ Our planet is actually at the heart of all of these, and thank heaven some are reaching back for that vestigial memory.”
Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

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About the Author

James William Gibson

James William Gibson is the author of Warrior Dreams: Paramilitary Culture in Post-Vietnam America and The Perfect War: Technowar in Vietnam. A frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times and the winner of multiple awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, Gibson is a professor of sociology at California State University, Long Beach. He lives in Los Angeles.

James William Gibson

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Available Formats and Book Details

A Reenchanted World
The Quest for a New Kinship with Nature
James William Gibson

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
Metropolitan Books
April 2009
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429994866
ISBN10: 142999486X
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 320 pages
$7.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
March 2010
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780805091489
ISBN10: 0805091483
5 1/4 x 8 inches, 320 pages
$19.00
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Metropolitan Books

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