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Believing Cassandra: An Optimist Looks at a Pessimist's World

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The Story of Cassandra

Cassandra was the young and beautiful daughter of Priam, the last king of Troy. Apollo bestowed upon Cassandra a special gift--the ability to see the future. But when she refused his favors, he twisted her gift with a curse, so no one would believe her prophecies.

256 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 1999

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Alan Atkisson

20 books1 follower

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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 reviews
Profile Image for Phil.
65 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2014
Only one question, really. Who in the hell is responsible for the art direction on the book cover? Who, I ask you!!
Profile Image for Marie.
936 reviews78 followers
December 15, 2015

As a sustainability communicator, I'm glad I read this book at last. It came highly recommended from my friend and our company's sustainability director. Even though I read the first edition (published several years ago), the concepts are ever fresh.

Alan AtKisson is a true optimist at heart. He reminds us about the Greek myth about Cassandra, who was blessed with the gift of prophecy but cursed because no one would believe the truth she had to share. Can you imagine how that would feel?

And that is the essence of how we need to communicate about the perils facing our planet. When we preach doom and gloom, it's easy for people to turn us off and believe that nothing they can do can possibly help (I often find myself feeling the same way!).

AtKisson has been working in sustainability since 1988 and in 2013 he was inducted into the Sustainability Hall of Fame. Believing Cassandra was his first book, in which he shares how he got into the field along with personal stories of his life's journey, interspersed with data and anecdotes about what people are doing around the world to combat climate change.

His aim is to give hope, and for all of us to find a way to be optimistic about the challenges facing our world. He urges us to break Cassandra's curse by giving people a reason to hope instead of letting the doomsayers take over the messaging. Because if that happens, no one will listen.

This book has already helped me transform my thinking about how to communicate about sustainability, especially to those people who are unconvinced of the need to turn the tide.
Profile Image for Amy.
Author 41 books128 followers
June 23, 2010
This book was fantastic. In fact, the only complaint I have about it at all is that it is 10 years old.

Believing Cassandra gets its name from the ancient Greek oracle (Cassandra) who was blessed with the gift of prophecy & cursed with the inability to get anyone to believe her.

This book talks about all the modern Cassandras who have predicted climate change. The book intersperses author Alan AtKisson's memories of his own journey from child to sustainability consultant with reviews of studies and publications about climate change, small things that people are doing to make a difference, and inspiration to change.

The crux of his book is based on the early 70s publication "Limits to Growth" which was insanely popular for a brief period of time before getting repeatedly bashed. It talks about the conclusions the authors drew about the dangers of exponential world population growth and the effect that would have on the world - and compares the early 70s predictions with the late 90s results - and what changes have been made in the meantime.

I am going to continue hoping that Mr. AtKisson does a 10-year follow up for the book. This is definitely recommended reading for the conservationist in us all!
Profile Image for Betsy.
148 reviews
August 21, 2011
An upbeat, comprehensive look at how we can overhaul Western civilization to avoid catastrophe. It sure would help if more people had listened and taken action when the book came out (1999).
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