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Beyond Civilisation: Humanity's Next Great Adventure [Paperback]

Daniel Quinn
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Nov 2000
In Beyond Civilization, Daniel Quinn thinks the unthinkable. We all know there's no one right way to build a bicycle, no one right way to design an automobile, no one right way to make a pair of shoes, but we're convinced that there must be only one right way to live -- and the one we have is it, no matter what.

Beyond Civilization makes practical sense of the vision of Daniel Quinn's best-selling novel Ishmael. Examining ancient civilizations such as the Maya and the Olmec, as well as modern-day microcosms of alternative living like circus societies, Quinn guides us on a quest for a new model for society, one that is forward-thinking and encourages diversity instead of suppressing it. Beyond Civilization is not about a "New World Order" but a "New Personal World Order" that would allow people to assert control over their own destiny and grant them the freedom to create their own way of life right now -- not in some distant utopian future.

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Beyond Civilisation: Humanity's Next Great Adventure + Story of B + Ishmael
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Publications (7 Nov 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609805363
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609805367
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 447,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Once upon a time life evolved on a certain planet, bringing forth many different social organizations-packs, pods, flocks, troops, herds, and so on. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After reading Ishmael & The Story Of B, I've become quite a fan of Quinn's critique of civilization, although I'm not quite as fanatic about his ideas concerning a solution, which is dealt with in the latter part of this book. The idea he suggests is not a new one, and is a mild variation of worker cooperatives/cooperative socialism. He states that a similarity in ideology is not a necessity among members of 'Tribal Business' which leads me to wonder how far it could go in achieving something vastly different from the civilization we live in.
Admittedly, it is an immensely difficult area in which to speculate when civilization has resisted change for so long, and perhaps Quinn couldn't have gone much further in suggesting grounds for change short of suggesting mass terrorism. But I don't see this book as humanities saviour and was sadly dissappointed with his suggestions. I was also confused that he called himself a 'lover of civilization' and slightly angered when he told how he used advertising to make money.
It sometimes seems that Quinn would have no argument with society had our culture not been leading itself to catastrophe, where personally I do, so maybe this is why I was dissappointed. Saying this, Quinn is very apt at explaining his complex opinions and the beginning of this book has some fantastic historical information and a great explanation of 'memes'. The parts that carry on where Ishmael & TSOB are fantastic and leave you ever more convinced with the failings of our society.
If you're new to Quinn, start with Ishmael, if you're not, read this. But you'd probably be more effective in saving the world if you lend out your copy of Ishmael to your friends than attempting a 'Tribal Business Venture'
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Easy to read and packed with ideas that make you see the world in a different way. Quinn speaks most effectively to those who feel civilisation is not what is should be. He explains that 'beyond civilisation' is a way of life and a way of making a living, giving examples to illustrate his points. He shows that saving the planet and changing the world is within our grasp. We don't have to vote or wait. We don't have to solve problems, just make happen what we want to happen, by walking away and going tribal. Above all, he presents a refreshingly positive perspective of Humanity and it's future; something we all need.
This book develops the ideas expressed in Quinn's other novels 'Ismael', 'My Ishmael' and 'Story of B'. While those are concerned with the success of tribal living and philosophy, 'Beyond Civilisation' is more of a practical manual. It is written as a series of notes to stimulate those who were inspired by his previous work, but still asked; "what should I do?" Those books are well recommended, but previous knowledge is not needed to be inspired by 'Beyond Civilisation' and the breadth of Quinn's vision.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book is interesting, very well written and provides some superb insights into how we might have come to live in a regrettable tangle of social and environmental ills - a situation conveyed by Quinn's uniquely powerful metaphors. For example, do you what more out of life than "a chance to feed at the trough where the world is being devoured?" Unfortunately, despite many of the insights which challenged much of my own thinking, I found the argument to be muddled, built on several deeply shaky assumptions about history and evolution and misled by a yearning for some form of tribalism, on which the author attempts to build a way out of our nose-diving civilization. Whilst Quinn's proposed solution has many merits, it depends on a simulacrum of a tribe (focusing on equivalent benefits only, rather than its essential structure and function). Also, it feels as if his formula drastically falls short of the new vision that Quinn himself argues, in the early part of the book, is needed to fundamentally alter the course of civilization.

Much of the "problem" that Quinn describes and explains will be familiar to readers of Ishmael and The Story of B. The roots of the problems we see today are found in a flawed societal design that originated with the move to dependence on farming, as the only source of food. This caused the development of hierarchy, which Quinn effectively equates to civilization and a culture, which Quinn also effectively equates to today's global civilization (of which, questionably, there is only one as epitomised by the US): the "culture of maximum harm". Quinn seems to diagnose two problems: hierarchy and this culture in which all members are dedicated to attaining the high point of maximum affluence.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting - not earth-shattering 26 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A bit disappointed, I thought he might have more to say considering the hype I had heard about how he had the knowledge to save the world. His analysis is very clear and accessible and spot on, but not that deep. His answer to the problems of civilization is not in any way 'beyond' civilization though - its basically just about forming co-operatives. This has been done with varying success (Co-op Bank ... oops). Perhaps its unheard of in the States?
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