Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming
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Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  1,087 ratings  ·  179 reviews
One of the world’s most influential environmentalists reveals a worldwide grassroots movement of hope and humanity

Blessed Unrest tells the story of a worldwide movement that is largely unseen by politicians or the media. Hawken, an environmentalist and author, has spent more than a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering socia...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 10th 2007 by Viking Adult (first published January 1st 2007)
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Robert McDonald
Dec 10, 2007 Robert McDonald rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people into the World Social Forum process
Paul Hawken’s new book, entitled Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming, makes a simple argument in a straightforward fashion. This makes the book infinitely more readable than another book that makes a similar argument in incomprehensible poetic prose, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt . The only problem with the clarity of Hawken’s argument is that it brings into full relief its defic...more
Allison Myers
I forced my way through this book because its written by Paul Hawken, one of the authors of Natural Capitalism (one of my very favorites). But man, it was hard to get through. Overly emotional and too historical. The bits about the civil rights movement were interesting though. Anway, I was about half way through when I realized I couldn't sludge on any further. So I peeked ahead to see if there was anything else I wanted to read- and realized that I wasn't half way through, but nearly done! The...more
jeremy
as a friend pointed out, the blurbs alone deem this a must-read (jane goodall, bill mckibben, barry lopez, terry tempest williams, david james duncan, & david suzuki). at the beginning of blessed unrest, hawken succinctly remarks, "in total, the book is inadvertently optimistic, an odd thing in these bleak times." indeed. refreshingly propitious, hawken counters prevailing disillusionment and listlessness with numerous examples of innumerable organizations acting to effect beneficial, lastin...more
Michael
My copy of this book has a different subtitle than the one listed above. Mine is "How the Largest Social Movement in History is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World." The change is for the better since I am hard-pressed to imagine a world where grace has been restored; is there even a dance floor that can handle such smooth gesticulations? I am on-board with the use of justice, though beauty kills it for me. Subtitles should be an art form, but, ultimately, have to be the boring hal...more
Glen Grunau
I really needed to read this book! If for no other reason than because I was raised under the influence of a fundamentalist ideology fueled by the political right, which so often promotes the unrestrained growth of capitalism while disregarding the environment as anything more than a means to this end. After all, the earth is going to be burned up anyways when all the good people disappear! Hawken quotes C.S. Lewis: "What we call Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some...more
Carol
I think the main idea of the book is summed up on page 162:
"Ideologies exclude openness, diversity, resiliancy, and multiplicity, the very qualities that noursih life in any system, be it ecosystem, immune system, or social system. Hundreds of thousands of small groups are trying to ignite an array of ideas in the world, fanning them like embers. Ideas are living things; they can be changed and adapted, and can grow. Ideas do not belong to anyone, and require no approval. This may sound ethereal...more
Nathan
In language as fecund, gorgeous and vital as any living thing, Paul Hawken traces the origins of what he calls the Movement: an increasingly global convergence of thousands upon thousands of local groups that each in their own way are working to preserve and strengthen indigenous rights, establish social justice, and/or rescue the environment. Hawken explores the roots of American environmentalism and social justice movements as well as the rise of the peculiarly resource-hungry entity known as...more
Erika RS
This book is about... well, I am not completely sure what. Nominally, it is about "the movement" which is the joint effect of the various diverse and dispersed environmental and social justice groups throughout the world. However, the book tends to ramble all over, so it is hard to get a point from the book beyond these groups exist, they encompass lots of people, and they are a source of hope, even as things seem grim.

So the book gets only an "okay" from me for being rambly, but it does have lo...more
Katherine
Even though this book was only 190 pages it took me quite a while to get through - the book starts out quite dry, but it starts to show potential in the second chapter when the author talks about the emergence of the environmental movement and how it becomes related to health thanks to the influence of Rachel Carlson.

His book goes into ups and downs in grabbing the reader's attention. The moments that were exciting was when he was talking about the movements and the different work of NGOs, but...more
Megan
: I always felt a lot of these concepts were inner connected, but I would have never been able to articulate how some of these items were related, let alone describe the movement from beginning to end so fluidly and seamlessly. I felt like the first residency was a bit of a preview. I had a sneak peak at a lot of what I found surprising and inspiring especially in regards to tracing the path through Emerson and then Thoreau.

There was a quote “life tends to optimize rather than maximize.” Thinki...more
Susan
At last! A hopeful book! Seeing the emergence of grass-roots organizations committed to social and environmental justice, and knitting together these observations with commentary of the trends, the author has a compellingly positive message - we ARE pulling together to save the world. Now, we "just" have to make it happen and it truly WILL be a hopeful time again.
Wendy
I wanted to like this book, and hoped it would reassure me that what the author asserts in his subtitle is really true: that the efforts of thousands of people around the world, working locally, really are beginning to turn the tide and move us toward a better world. Unfortunately, by trying to do too much, the author achieves too little. I couldn't quite finish, especially after I'd realized that this is the Paul Hawken of Smith & Hawken, and that he not only doesn't allude to that in the b...more
Kathy Truman
This is the book for all the people in the trenches of justice work, feeling discouraged about changing the world, feeling alone, powerless. It provides a picture of hope and optimism to keep on moving mountains, one shovelful at a time. It is full of web links to assist in connecting the global network of change agents.
Julie
Very dry read, almost like a textbook, but not very informative. Not at all what I expected from such an inspiring public speaker.
Beth M.
Best of this book: The overview of the (mainly Western) green movement (and he did qualify himself by pointing out he was going to stick to what he knew - the US) and the excellent way he upturns some of the metrics that are traditionally used to measure progress in order to champion more localized economies, deeper community ties, and family.

Worst: His inconsistent treatment of religion (is it terrible? see:chapter 3 or utterly necessary see: concluding chapter). Someone needs to tell the man...more
Adam
Blessed Unrest purports to be about the “movement of movements” that is currently upwelling on a local, case-by-case basis against the symptoms of civilization's depredations. The book went far beyond that, however, and fulfilled promises I didn't realize it had made. Hawken doesn't spend much time giving history or anatomy of the “movement” in question, and the only specific examples he gives occur in the context of larger points.

Instead, the thesis is of the book is an effective, elegant, and...more
Virginia Bryant
This is a great delineation of new paradigm thought and observation.

Before anything else, it should be noted that this is a great source book for a wide variety of organizations working to be helpful to the birth of the new world we must inhabit if we are to go on........

"“It has been said that we cannot save our planet from escalating and wide spread misery and torment unless humankind undergoes a widespread spiritual...awakening In other words, fixes won;t fix unless we fix our souls as well.....more
Mohamed Hassan
May 12, 2010 Mohamed Hassan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Mohamed by: student
The book “ Blessed Unrest” by Paul Hawken is about green movements that deals with issues like the destruction of the environment, social justice, the abuses of free market fundamentalism and the loss of indigenous cultures around the world. The book focuses mainly on global environmental and how developing or developed nations are affecting the environmental as well as the global weather and natural resources. Paul Hawken argues that globalization movement especially in less developed countries...more
Solidarity
Jan 24, 2008 Solidarity rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Green activists, community organizers
Recommended to Solidarity by: Google
You suggest that the politics of the future are really about fostering unusual alliances that revolve around ideas. Strange bedfellows—evangelicals aligning with environmentalists, for example. Are you seeing this elsewhere?


Yes. At the same time, we find out that we’re not strange bedfellows. We’re human beings and what estranged us is far less important and almost meaningless compared to what is meaningful now. You’re seeing Wal-Mart, for example, quite authentically—and I don’t care what someo...more
skye
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shasta McBride
whew! excerpt:

While so much is going wrong, so much is going right. Over the years the ingenuity of organizations, engineers, designers, social entrepreneurs, and individuals has created a powerful arsenal of alternatives. The financial and technical means are in place to address and restore the needs of the biosphere and society. Poverty, hunger, and preventable childhood diseases can be eliminated in a single generation. Energy use can be reduced 80 percent in developed countries within 30 ye...more
Edwin B
I am looking for something, but not really hard, because I do not expect to find it. The truest questions are unanswered. But still I wonder. And then this book comes along, and touches upon one of them.

Back in the day, it was all about the one, grand, unifying cause, for which we the inspired enlisted, envisioned a line of march, and endeavored to advance lockstep with each other in the twists and turns toward the common goal, with all rivulets connected into a common stream. We called it revol...more
Jen
May 18, 2009 Jen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jen by: Our board of directors
I was under the impression that this was "required reading" for people in my field... having scanned some other reviews of the book, I wish I had picked up Hawken's Natural Capitalism instead. Blessed Unrest attempts to describe and create a taxonomy for the wide array of NGO's attempting to better the world. In his opinion, they are all working toward a common (though unarticulated) goal, and therefore form the largest movement known to man. It's an interesting theory, and I enjoyed the appendi...more
Kristin
The first 8 pages, the section titled "The Beginning" is wonderful, and I will recommend it to anyone. 6 stars. I LOVE, "If you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren't pessimistic, you don't have the correct data. If you meet the people in this unnamed movement and aren't optimistic, you haven't got a heart." I also love, "Wrong is an addictive, repetitive story; Right is where the movement is."

That said, the rest of the book was only alright, which after...more
Neel
The book's thesis is simple - that collectively, a laundry list of "progressive" causes, including indigenous rights, environmentalism, anti-globalization, local food, etc. can collectively be considered the largest social movement in the history of mankind. Hawken must make the argument that all these disparate movements are really pointed at one overall goal. He often repeats himself, saying that it is impossible to categorize EVERY non-profit, NGO, neighborhood action group, etc., but then he...more
Linda Robinson
There are a lot of really big words in the reportage of the movement that no one saw, but this is a remarkably adept condensing of how commerce was allowed to trump humans, how humans trampled the earth (and continue to do so) and how many organizations there are trying to stop the stampede, one little NGO at a time. The story of climate change, the pillage of indigenous lands and culture, and the grim tale of the search for cheaper labor is heart-stopping in one volume, but Hawken finds the yin...more
Jayme
I picked up this audiobook because I was looking for some hope. The news has been bringing me down with budget cuts and global disasters. I wanted to be inspired by the many people out there who are trying to make a difference - whether they succeed or not. This book, however, does not quite deliver what the title claims. It was not until disc 6 (out of 7) that the author actually mentions the different groups out there working for environmental and social justice. The first 5 discs are filled w...more
Nicola
A very informative read on the history and current state of environmental and social movements/organizations. I read with a laptop, typing up quotes and quotes of quotes (one of my fav.s: "One of the beauties of biology is that its facts become our metaphors." -Kenny Ausubel) and writing down vocab. I studied this book because some of the facts and stories felt too important not to. For example, the fact that the World Bank only gives loans to developing countries IF they agree to privatize thei...more
Susan
A must read for anyone involved in the social, environmental, and/or aboriginal rights movements.

Every action taken is part of a much greater whole. This book helps us to learn more about the 'big picture' in which all of these actions take place, and about the beautiful, wonder people and organizations who are doing the work. It provides hope and inspiration.
Marc
The basic thesis of the book is that there are so many humanitarian organizations around the world, that each in their own micro-focused way, are acting as humanity's "collective immune" system.

The premis is solid enough, and the movements Mr. Hawken outlines are very compelling from a case-by-case basis. The biggest problem I have with the book is that the story arc is simply hard to follow, and these movements are by no means new. I felt like I was simply looking over his shoulder across Googl...more
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“If you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren't pessimistic, you don't have the correct data. If you meet people in this unnamed movement and aren't optimistic, you haven't got a heart.” 3 likes
“Wrong is an addictive, repetitive story; Right is where the movement is.” 3 likes
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