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In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  395 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Mander goes beyond television (which he proclaimed as being dangerous to personal health and sanity in Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television) to critique our technological society as a whole, challenge its utopian promises, and track its devastating impact on native cultures worldwide. "Will interest all readers concerned about our environment and quality of lif ...more
Hardcover, 0 pages
Published January 1st 1998 by Peter Smith Publisher (first published 1991)
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Shawn Sorensen
Might be my favorite book, one of those titles that always stay with you. It does an excellent job of articulating so many of the feelings many of us have had regarding the decimation of native peoples over what has just been a few centuries. Without guilt trips or a lot of generalizations, author Jerry Mander highlights how so many tribes were wiped out, their best features of self-government that current nation-states could consider, and how roughly a billion native peoples are thriving in the ...more
Apr 26, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
One of those books that pull so many things together and do it in a lucid, understandable fashion... I kept finding myself saying “Yes! That is exactly what the problem is!” and then continuing on to a new nugget of wisdom. One of the best sections of the book is a listing of the underlying and structural reasons that corporations are damaging to society and to the earth. As one might guess, the profit motive ranks right up there, but there are other business that are profit driven that don’t wr ...more
Linda  Branham Greenwell
Mar 23, 2010 Linda Branham Greenwell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
U guess I need to add a new shelf
This was written in 1991 but is still very relevant today. It is about the effects of technology on us as a people. He also discusses the plight on the Native American in our world of technology... how we have destroyed their culture, their connection with the land in believing "our" way to be superior. In reality living in balance with all of nature is preferable than the nightmare that we have created
Oct 12, 2008 Lindsay rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everybody
Recommended to Lindsay by: the film "What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire"
This book is divided into two parts: first, a critique of modern high-tech, global consumer culture (the book was written in 1991); and second, an in-depth look at the conflict between that culture and various traditional, indigenous ways of life around the globe.

The first part extends Mander's essential premise from Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television --- that all technological innovations have social and political implications which should be evaluated along with each invention's
Nov 25, 2007 jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gen-nonfiction
jerry mander is an engrossing writer, his evidence well-researched and convincing. this book is important because it not only upends many of the fallacies regarding the "neutrality" of technologies, but because it also demonstrates the effect these technologies have had (are having) on indigenous cultures. his warning is an emphatic one, entreating us to return to the more authentic values still practiced by an ever-decreasing number of people around the globe.
Nov 25, 2008 Deeann rated it it was amazing
This was just a lucky find in a used book store. The author formerly developed adverstising campaigns for national environmental organizations and works in the field of advertising.

The book describes the history of technology from an objective point of view, the impact of modern technology on indigenous cultures worldwide and how technology has been used as a means to extract land and other resources from indigenous people.
Oct 30, 2009 Simone rated it really liked it
Raises concerns about the pervasiveness of technology in the lives of Americans and the rest of the world; looks at traditional Native American ways of life and the effect that technology has had on their lifestyles and cultures; dispels some comfortable myths about what encroaching Western presence has actually accomplished for native peoples already in existence.
Apr 13, 2010 Costacoralito rated it it was amazing
An excellent view of what we must do to save the Earth. How we swindled Alaska away from the Native population while telling the world we were being fair and honest with them. Very dishonorable way to behave.
Abner Rosenweig
Jul 17, 2016 Abner Rosenweig rated it it was amazing
It takes courage to read books like this, books that crash through our common assumptions about the world and allow us to see society from a critical perspective. It takes courage because sometimes these books reveal the ugly side of the world. The side that you don't want to see and that, once seen, can't be unseen.

At 25 years old, "In the Absence of the Sacred" is more relevant than ever. Mander speaks for peace, justice, nature, love, health, the long-term survival of humanity, and a critical
Dec 23, 2014 Dave rated it really liked it
I've been trying to avoid books that are over 10 years old since things are changing so fast but this one is still better than most of the newer stuff I've read. One thing older books have going for them at least is that the writers didn't have to worry as much about using some stupid gimmick to make played out ideas more novel. Frankly, in the last 23 years the arguments haven't really gotten much better than this. The word games have just gotten more sophisticated (in the sense that sophistica ...more
Nov 13, 2014 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
In The Absence of the Sacred is of the great socio/political/psychological/ecological books of our times. Mander's fierce intellect cuts through our worship of technology and belief and goes to the bone of what sustains us.

Mander makes it clear that technology will not only NOT save the world but is in fact destroying the world. The realities of what we have lost as a civilization are incalculable -- most of our land is polluted, 90% of our big fish are extinct, 40% of all living species are go
Victoria Adams
Nov 10, 2012 Victoria Adams rated it it was amazing
I acquired this book at one of those delightful moments provided by a friend of mine. She was attending university at the time and, for my birthday, walked me into the university bookstore and said – pick something, anything. When these rare moments arrive I like to make sure that my selection is not necessarily something I would purchase browsing the shelves with my own budget. I will look for something intriguing, new to me, off my usual radar. I find such treasurers that way!

Written in 1991 t
Dec 14, 2010 Susan rated it it was amazing
I wish I had read this book twenty years ago when it was written!

Despite being a little out of date in the details (the references to "the Soviets" were charmingly nostalgic for this 80s kid), his central thesis is even more relevant today: this culture is killing the planet. Indigenous people are not passive recipients of Western charity and civilizing; rather, they are trying desperately to hold their cultures together in an effort to save the planet - *they* are helping *us*.

This is probably
One of the most deeply moving books I've ever read -- and one that makes as much sense to me as any I've read. It will stay on my shelf forever. It's a criticism of the culture we've created. It encompasses so many things -- all the things that make up our living during this time on this planet: spirituality, philosophy, paradigm shift, environment, nature, indigenous people, alternative living, native American cultures, social criticism, technology... A book to be read over again from time to t ...more
David Rush
Jun 28, 2014 David Rush rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I think I read this book 20 plus years ago, and I think I like it then. But this time I could only get 50 pages into it.

This time around it seemed like he had his views and then collected whatever data, anecdote or part of a conversation that backed up his view. In one sense that is cool, but he never really addressed any point that might detract from his thesis. Oh I think I his thesis that most technology is bad but he didn't really spell it out in the beginning so I may be wrong.

But, the way
Ryan Mishap
Oct 23, 2008 Ryan Mishap rated it liked it
Great book questioning technology/industrial culture and contrasting our civilization with that of Indian nations. East to read, personal, and wide in scope, a good book to start looking at technology and our society with.
Keep in mind Ward Churchill's criticisms about Mander's reliance on white sources over native ones.
Braden Canfield
A book that has influenced me greatly!
Dec 29, 2014 James added it
Shelves: abandoned
I couldn't finish this book, so I won't rate it.

I agree completely with Mander's central thesis, which is that skepticism of technology is a healthy and necessary approach to "progress". Our evaluation of new technology should go beyond simply asking whether it creates new conveniences (as all technologies do), but whether it is good for the world as a whole. Such a line of thinking might have saved us from the atomic bomb, but it might also have prevented the invention of the computer I'm using
Jan 29, 2015 Tomek rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I only took off half a star because, as Mander mentions at the beginning, the book really is two ideas. He claims that they go together. I think a stronger case could be made in two separate books, but oh well. At any rate, Mander does a passable job of explaining how technology can be incredibly problematic and disruptive to all cultures, and especially indigenous ones. Some of his rationales are a bit far fetched. A crappy trip to EPCOT should not be a big selling point in your argu ...more
Sean Canton
Aug 27, 2014 Sean Canton rated it really liked it
I like books that challenge my worldview, and this does. The author is opinionated, but the basic argument, that technology fails to deliver on it's promises, is not refutable.
Feb 13, 2011 Roy rated it really liked it
"Inspiring, sometimes gripping, Jerry Mander's elegant prose reminds us that re-attunement with nature's laws is not self-sacrificing atonment. It is the rediscovery of more soul-satisfying ways of living. Through Mander's eyes, native peoples are no quaint relics; they become sources of precisely the practical wisdom our species needs not only for survival but for renewal. Mander's insights help us gain confidence to declare liberation from the technological imperative."
--Frances Moore Lappe
Oct 14, 2011 Dylan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommend the last section on contemporary indigenous struggles. It is the one part that successfully integrates his main themes with specific case studies. The preceding chapters seem to me like two distinct, unfinished books: one on Native Americans and another on technology. He says at the beginning that this was his original plan. However, for the reader who knows nothing about critiques of technology or indigenous people, this book is a fine place to start.
Yaneth Suárez
Me gusta cómo la escritora va hilando la historia entre los personajes principales sin perder de vista al resto. Algunos pasajes del libro son bastante graciosos y me aportaron sus buenas dosis de carcajadas. Lo único que hizo que el libro no me llegara al máximo es el hecho de que jamás podré sentirme identificada con un personaje tan lleno de complejos, dudas, frustraciones y tan carente de orgullo.
Oct 01, 2009 Kham added it
Couldn't get through it! Not for lack of good content--but I already know the human race is astray and a slave to technology, lacking connection to the natural world. Seems like the author reiterates the same thing over and over. It's a depressing and frustrating topic, and I just couldn't hang with it. I want to escape when I read!
Jan 09, 2009 Aunt marked it as to-read
Next on my list, an argument for eliminating television from our culture and society.
Subtitled- The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations.
Aug 07, 2011 Ron rated it liked it
Far from a spiritual text, the former media insider moves on to tackle computers and video games as having the same structural problems as television.
Olin Hyde
Feb 02, 2011 Olin Hyde rated it really liked it
Well articulated arguments that utterly failed the test of time yet were convincing enough to cloud my thinking (at the time).
Aug 12, 2009 Matt rated it it was amazing
Actually a lot better than one would think given the wordy title. An easy, entertaining, and enlightening read...
Nov 02, 2013 Zozulya rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up-on
Author is very pessimistic and reactionary. His arguments are spatial and have no deal with life of my generation.
Oct 23, 2008 Xochilt rated it it was amazing
Probably one of the most eye-opening books I've ever read. Highly recommend it.
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