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The Wisdom of Donkeys: Finding Tranquillity in a Chaotic World Paperback – 5 Mar 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Short Books Ltd; Reprint edition (5 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906021376
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906021375
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 328,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"An amazing book... Erudite, acutely observed and spontaneous. My guess is that it will become what
they call a classic" -- John Berger

About the Author

Born in Liverpool, England in 1960, Andy Merrifield taught geography for over a decade in assorted British and American universities. He's author of four previous books, including biographies on two twentieth-century French philosophers. He now lives and writes in a small rural community in France's Auvergne region.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A joyous story of a man taking a hike around a picturesque part of France with a donkey as companion, and a useful carrier of the man's few possessions taken on his tour. The book not only tells you about the people and scenery of the area, it gives you a complete history of donkeys, which leaves you with the impression of what strong animals they are.... and how strong willed they can be too! A lot of amusement in this engaging book.
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Format: Paperback
An easy-going read about donkeys it is not! Told by a man who, like many, has become disillusioned with Western, capitalist, materialistic life, he takes us on a journey across rural France with his loaned donkey Gribouille. It's a journey with little point other than to "be" with himself and with his donkey, and, it seems, in order to then compose a book about what this travel elucidates. The book is littered with quotes and references from what others have perceived about man-donkey relationships, donkey wisdom and how it relates to the human condition. Some are well known, such as "Dapple" and Sancho from Don Quixote, but most are rather obscure and outside the realm of the average persons knowledge (or at least mine!), other than the hard-line intellectual or hard-core (and intelligent) donkey fanatic. But if you can get around that, it is a nice enough window into the authors life - a man brave enough to do what a lot of us only dream of.
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I loved this book, the slow pace, the philosophical and spiritual place that the author found himself in, as a result of his journey with the donkey. The interesting features and characteristics of a donkey, many of which I knew not. The beauty of France, I rushed out and bought a copy for my sister's birthday present.
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This book was recommended to me via word of mouth - normally a good start. As I am embarking on a summer walking holiday in France and taking a donkey along, I thought it would be useful to gain some knowledge. This book which weaves useful and practical information with philosophical musings fitted the bill perfectly. I learnt that donkeys are not stubborn but careful about their own safety; that their wrongly interpreted 'stubbornness' often leads to vicious acts of cruelty by their owners; and that the humble donkey is one of the most persecuted of all domestic beasts. I already knew that donkeys like company of other donkeys and that they are often paired up with unpredictable horses to calm them down. The author's journey so well described seemed to last a lifetime with references to films and books and music. In reality his journey was only a few days yet he managed to produce a very likeable, knowledgable, and deeply moving book from that experience.

I now feel qualified to lead my donkey around the quiet lanes of the Ardeche taking time out from the bustle of normal life. I will have to learn the art of patience so often neglected in everyday life but I feel that Andy Merrifield's excellent and insightful guide is gently easing me into that frame of mind. I will of course be bringing a brush and a curry comb with me on my trip and hope that I can produce not a book but a smile from my long suffering friend. It will be a challenge.
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Format: Paperback
This book is as good as it gets. It can only make one want to be more noble, light, frolicsome and improbably beautiful...If you have ever thought you were watched over by something you have never seen, something holy and yet humble you will wish it is a Donkey.This book will strike you to the heart and saturate you with simple joy. I am reminded of a quote by Mary Oliver from one of her poems entitled, "Swan": "Of course! the path to heaven doesn't lie down in flat miles. It's in the imagination with which you perceive this world, and the gestures with which you honor it". Everything you think you know about Donkeys and Mules is wrong, and everything you don't know about them is greater than you can imagine. If you think you know, think again, read this book, and be afraid of nothing.
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Format: Paperback
It was a pleasure reading this book, it is not just about the author's travels in the company of his faithful donkey but also a retrospective insight into your own thoughts that involuntarily come to mind as you accompany them on their journey. This is a well written book that will give you positive emotions, much like spending time with donkeys does.
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Format: Paperback
This book is at once glib and profound, sentimental and saccharine, not easy to categorise. Which is probably why the publishers called it "mind, body, spirit".

As another reviewer has pointed out, it is NOT a travel book in any accepted sense of the word. There is a journey, but the author's journey is more of a spiritual one rather than a physical one. It is more a self-help book. He doesn't record where he went, what he did and what he saw, as such, he writes down how he felt and how he bonded with his donkey. When I picked it up I thought it would be a bit like Tim Moore's Spanish Steps, which I enjoyed immensely, but it isn't. For a start there is no humour. On the whole this is a bit too, well, SERIOUS. Like I said, the publishers have chosen to market it in the "mind, body, spirit" genre, which tells its own story and goes a long way to describing its new-age feel.

Another slight problem I had with this book was that I couldn't ever quite get away from the feeling that the author was anthropomorphising -- that's easy for me to say! -- "Gribouille", his asinine companion. I kept thinking: is he really thinking that or is the author just fancying that he is? Of course the author is just fancying it, but does that make it so? Also, I could never get away from the fact that this was very mid-life crisis territory. Some middle-age men buy a sports car. Merrifield bought a donkey.

But having said all of these disparaging things about the book I will now offset them by saying that there WERE many profound and insightful things about donkeys said by the author. There are lots of facts and nuggets of information about donkeys' behaviour, how to care for them etc.
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