James Gustav Speth: The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability
978-0300151152 – paperback – Yale University Press – $18.00
While I was reading The Bridge at the Edge of the World, I often would exclaim out loud as so many of the ideas the author talks about are ones I believe in and feel are important to the dialog about the future of our planet. This is an important book that should be widely read, discussed and used as the basis of action – and soon!
Co-founder of the NRDC, former Yale University dean, and former White House advisor James Gustave Speth has been a leader in the environmental movement for more than 30 years.
Now, faced with overwhelming evidence of galloping degradation of the planet, Speth has concluded that the environmental project—his project—has failed. No matter how hard environmentalists work, the current of destruction against which they are swimming is simply too swift. In order to preserve a livable planet for future generations, Speth argues in The Bridge at the Edge of the World that the current itself must be altered. And the current is that untouchable edifice, American-style consumer capitalism.
I found this book to be powerful and compelling and wanted to talk to “Gus” Speth about the implications of his thinking. How should we go forward when we know that the way we live today is putting us on a collision course with the natural world? How do we build new ways of living that are sustainable? And how are we going to do this in the face of so many entrenched interests that will oppose the essential changes we feel are necessary for human survival and for the preservation natural systems in a viable planet earth?
While this interview is perhaps all too brief, Speth talks in depth about some of his ideas and answers my questions with his typical incisiveness and intelligence.
978-0670020959 – Hardcover
Viking – $24.95
Alice Eve Cohen’s memoir tells an incredible story – a writer and playwright, she was diagnosed as infertile in her thirties, she adopted a daughter with her then-husband (whom she later divorced). At 44 she began to experience strange physical symptoms – after six months of suffering she was finally recognized as being pregnant. In many ways that was only the beginning of her story – which is an incredible, honest, sometimes funny but as often a painful journey of discovery.
I generally am not that interested in the modern memoir – most people’s stories are just not that interesting. But I was attracted to Alice’s story right away, partly because of my own experience with DES and its damages to the children whose mothers took that fertility drug. Alice’s persona shines through her story. She is vivid and clear about everything that happened to her and how she felt at the time, and later, and she pulls no punches, including her own foibles, fears, and weaknesses throughout.
Overall What I Thought I Knew is a wonderful book that holds our attention throughout. It’s transformative for the author and for the reader. In my interview with Alice Eve Cohen, we talked in detail about the book and her experiences then and now (the events took place several years ago). She’s not only a wonderful writer but a great interview subject as well.