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Lions Roar : July 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2008 93 BY ANDREA MCQUILLIN BOOKS IN BRIEF AMERICAN EARTH Environmental Writing Since Thoreau Edited by Bill McKibben Library of America, 2008; 997 pp. plus 80-page color portfolio, $40 (cloth) With growing concern globally about climate change, this sur- vey, selected and edited by Bill McKibben, couldn’t come at a better time. As McKibben, an activist/writer himself, points out, America’s unique contribution to world literature is the genre of “environmental writing.” From the prophet Thoreau to ear- ly conservationists like John Muir to alarm-sounders like Ra- chel Carson and contemporary philosophers like Gary Snyder, McKibben deftly leads the reader through the intellectual and artistic development of the modern environmental movement. These essays on consumption, overpopulation, and energy poli- cy remind us that while a number of environmental battles have been won (control of pesticides, for example, and the protection of the Adirondacks), in McKibben’s words, “the war goes badly.” If we are to survive, the voices in this book must be the main- stream, and not on the artistic, intellectual, or spiritual fringe. THE RULES OF VICTORY How to Transform Conflict and Chaos—Strategies from the Art of War By James Gimian and Barry Boyce Shambhala Publications, 2008; 304 pp., $26.95 (cloth) In The Rules of Victory, Shambhala Sun publisher James Gimian and senior editor Barry Boyce demonstrate that you can actually practice what the Sun Tzu (The Art of War) preaches—victory without war. The two are members (Gimian is codirector) of the Denma Translation Group, which in 2002 published a highly re- garded new translation of the Sun Tzu. It would seem that by im- mersing themselves in the translation of the text and examining its key principles—interconnectedness, conflict, taking whole, knowing, and victory—Gimian and Boyce learned to apply the Sun Tzu in daily life. The result is a practical guide to dealing with the conflict that inevitably arises in our relationships at home, at work, and elsewhere. THE OPEN ROAD The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama By Pico Iyer Knopf, 2008; 275 pp., $24 (cloth) Author and journalist Pico Iyer first met the Dalai Lama as a young boy accompanying his father, and he and the Tibetan spir- itual leader have maintained a friendship for some thirty years. Often asked to comment on the Dalai Lama and Tibet for news- papers and journals around the world, Iyer, a non-Buddhist, has written what will perhaps be the definitive study of the man as exiled political leader, spiritual guide, and religious icon. The Open Road is a sober and thoughtful portrait of a disciplined monk who values empiricism and compassion above tradition, and who has fully accepted his lot in life. It takes more than a little courage and insight to “reveal” the Dalai Lama; in doing so, Iyer acquits himself well. MOTIONLESS JOURNEY From a Hermitage in the Himalayas By Matthieu Ricard Thames and Hudson, 2008; 128 pp., $45 (cloth) Motionless Journey is more than a beautiful coffee-table picture book. It’s the distillate of a year of solitary meditation retreat by the Tibetan Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, the author of (most recently) Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill, and longtime French translator to the Dalai Lama. Ricard took photographs—one or two a week—from his hermitage in the Himalayas. In Motionless Journey, stunning full-color plates of mountains, mists, and monks are paired with cogent teach- ings from Buddhist teachers and Western philosophers. Ricard’s introductory essay explains both the motivation and necessity for retreat practice and conveys his utter joy at the opportuni- ty for reflection without distraction: “As he lights his fire each morning, the hermit wonders if he will still be alive the next day to light another. Aware of the impermanence of everything, he practices assiduously.” JULY 78-99.indd 93 JULY 78-99.indd 93 4/25/08 12:05:29 PM 4/25/08 12:05:29 PM