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Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition Paperback – 1 Jul 2008


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Frequently Bought Together

Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition + Rekindling Community: Connecting People, Environment and Spirituality (Schumacher Briefing) + Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power
Price For All Three: £26.97

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Product details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn Ltd (1 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841586226
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841586229
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 13.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 137,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alastair McIntosh (b. 1955) is a Scottish writer, broadcaster and activist on social, environmental and spiritual issues, raised on the Isle of Lewis. A Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology, a former Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde, and an Honorary Fellow in the School of Divinity (New College) at Edinburgh University, and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the College of Social Sciences at Glasgow University, he holds a BSc from the University of Aberdeen, an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in liberation theology and land reform from the University of Ulster.

His books include Hell & High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition on the cultural and spiritual dimensions of climate change, Rekindling Community on the spiritual basis of inter-relationship, and Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power on land reform and environmental protection - the latter described as "world changing" by George Monbiot, "life changing" by the Bishop of Liverpool and "truly mental" by Thom Yorke of Radiohead.

For the past 9 years he and his wife, Vérène Nicolas, have lived in Govan where he is a founding director of the GalGael Trust for the regeneration of people and place. A Quaker, he lectures around the world at institutions including WWF International, the World Council of Churches, the Russian Academy of Sciences and the UK Defence Academy (on nonviolence). His driving passion is to explore the deep roots of what it can mean to become fully human, and use such insights to address the pressing problems of our times.

Product Description

Review

What McIntosh does brilliantly here is offer an alternative, deeply humanist version of Green politics. --The Scotsman

One of the best books around about Climate Change. --Friends of the Earth

McIntosh makes serious philosophical thinking seem essential. --Tam Dean Burn

Review

You go into any bookshop and you'll see shelves and shelves of titles on this subject, and it's hard to select only a couple, but I could mention Mark Lynas's Six Degrees [and] Alastair McIntosh's Hell and High Water. What makes both these books particularly worthwhile is not only that they're very scientifically rigorous but both of them ... find a kind of rage and optimism.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By M.I.Ahmad on 16 July 2008
Format: Paperback
At one point in his magnificent new book Alastair McIntosh explains the distinction between optimism and hope: the former alleviates suffering by denying reality whereas the latter draws on inner resources which can coexist with pessimism. With the accumulating evidence on climate change, he points out, at time 'one cannot help but hear the thundering hooves and feel the hot breath of the apocalypse cantering by'. And it is for this reason that he has 'been forced to abandon optimism and take recourse in hope'. For as he points out, hope, unlike optimism, is a spur for action, not a substitute for it.

While McIntosh does an admirable job of summarizing the science, economics and politics of climate change in the first section, it is the second part of the book that forms the meat of his argument. A tour de force rendered in flawless prose, the section draws on philosophy, theology, poetry, myth and literature to situate the real root of Hell and High water in the human condition. The modernity ushered in by the Enlightenment may have introduced much that is worth celebrating, but the rationality in the form of logical positivism that accompanied it has helped break the link between the inner realm and the outer world that nurtures its -- man and nature, soil and soul. The dissociation of sensibility first set in motion with the reformation and the suppression of imagination (faerie) has led to hollowing out of the human psyche; leading vacant souls ripe for colonization by consumerism. Emptied (and disparaged in the case of the New Atheists) of the spirituality that sustains inner health the culture satisfies its quest for meaning (the liminal) with a variety of addictions that approximate the experience (the liminoid). It confuses 'having' with 'being'.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Darp on 31 July 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an incredible book. I loved Mcintoshs last book soil and soul. Infact it is a life changing incredible read. This is different, Whereas in Soil and Soul Mc Intosh goes from Autobiography, to campagin history to deep ecology, poetry and theology all in a tapestry that challenges the psycology of death and nihilism presented by mainstream corporate greed. This book seperated in to two parts firstly explores contemporary sciences view of climate change, and secondly explores the modern human condition asking essentialy; why do we keep destroying our selves and our environment? And what can be done to transform us from "peddlars of death to seekers of life". The books tone can ocasionaly sound didactic and presumptious of our complete agreement with the authors conclusions "as we saw earlier..." or "as we shall see..." are regularly used phrases. The main thing that strikes me about Alastairs writing is it's poetry, depth, and the huge Love and sensativity shown to all life. It is very humbling and beautiful to behold. He can really tell a story too. It is difficult to read his perspective about us living in a dieing time of huge extinctions and human suffering. And hard to deny it's truth. It allso strenghtens his argumant that we need very badly to have a depth of soul, love and inner life, that can deal with loss, chaos, and violence and still give the gift that makes life worth living. Read this Beautiful Book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Clare Misselbrook on 28 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very unusual look at the subject of climate change; if the worst happens, how will we deal with it? Not just physically but emotionally and culturally. For a book that tackles global disaster, it leaves the reader feeling surprisingly uplifted. I was feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the challenges ahead this definitely helped.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Brian Hill on 3 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
I've just finished reading Hell and High Water. It was an exhilarating, if not exactly comfortable, read. Alistair McIntosh says at one point how hard parts of it were to write. Climate change is an important matter but what makes this exploration of the problem and its solutions, is that it is about us.

This book unravels how the human condition, how we are and how we live now, underscores it all. Undeniably we live disconnected and incomplete lives for all our stuff. Of course we do deny it and the message of the book is to wake up, understand the addictive behaviours of the human race and move beyond it. Arguing about whether climate change is really our fault is tantamount to rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. We have lost touch with something fundamental in our headlong rush to have rather than be. This is the brokenness which drags us down. Climate change sits there along with war, waste, pollution and poverty: all by-products of human dysfunction. We can fix nothing unless we fix ourselves. Reading this book (and acting on it) can be a step in that direction.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Caitlin Matthews on 14 May 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A new Alastair McIntosh is always a great day in my household. I receive so much nurture from his soulful and common sense writing - an inspiration that is of the everyday soil as well as of the spirit.
This book takes us on a journey from hubris to hope. It is a hubris that we all share, for we have been complicit in our own lifetimes with the way the world has been brought to the edge. McIntosh includes himself in the complicity, as well as you and me. He miraculously brings us to the starkness of that edge and then shows us another way. Unlike many ecologists who enjoy shocking us and leaving us to stew in our own juices, the author reveals the secret that was facing us all the time: that we cannot merely address the ecocide prospect that lies before us with just scientific measures, but that it requires individuals, families, communities and nations to come into an engaged consciousness together. New ways of thinking about problems must include community and spiritual pathways that are open to change. I took this book to Portugal as my 'must-read' while I taught there and I have not been disappointed. Read it and don't be afraid of the storm.

Caitlín Matthews
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