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Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,480 ratings  ·  123 reviews
In this essay on man Mr. Fuller expresses what may well be his penultimate view of the human condition. Here, in a mood at once philosophical and involved, Mr. Fuller traces man s intellectual evolution and weighs his capability for survival on this magnificent craft, this Spaceship Earth, this superbly designed sphere of almost negligible dimension in the great vastness o ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Amereon Limited (first published 1969)
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Afrah Mohammad
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's not a perfect book, but it is a necessary one. Essentially it's a compact antithesis to the specious philosophy of pseudo-individualism that overwhelmingly prevails today. Fuller definitely overextended and exaggerated a few generalizations about world history and specialization to make his theory about synergy more unified, but I think part of the exaggeration also has to do with him having to present a very urgent and complex thesis in a short space of paper. For example, I don't think Fu ...more
Tim Pendry
I came to this 1969 cult 'classic' in the fervent hope that it might allow me, finally, to 'get' modern environmentalism for which this is a seminal text.

Part of my subsequent lack of enthusiasm is down to style. There is no doubt that Buckminster Fuller was a genius of sorts - at least as an engineer, planner and technologist - but he writes like a 'speak your weight' machine with a propensity for creating neologistic compound words that would put German philosophy to shame.

Far from inspiring,
Juho Pohjalainen
Apr 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I'd be lying if I said I understood much of this book: a lot of it simply went over my head, a fault of either the writing style or my own ignorance. I'll have to re-read it one of these days.

What I did understand, though, I agree more often than not.
Paula Koneazny
This is a classic, published in 1969, first read by me back in 1970 or 1971, when we thought we would soon experience either the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius or, alternately, the Eve of Destruction. Definitely Utopian, still visionary, and in some ways quite wrong, Fuller makes interesting reading even now, 40 years later and 26 years after his death in 1983. One important area in which Fuller has turned out to have been wrong was his prediction that global population would stabilize at the th ...more
Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here.

Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth is a fascinating combination of Fuller's deep scientific grounding and his philosophical and metaphysical way of looking at the world. The main thesis of the book is that humanity has been too shortsighted and siloed in its thinking and, as a result, we have lost the ability to s
Joe Ball
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
World economics have been based on false values- as all the gold in the world cannot possibly help to sustain life on our planet! Acclaimed author/inventor/architect Buckminster Fuller reviews the irreducible facts of physics, the fallacy of governments, and an introduction to systems theory.

Erik Graff
Sep 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Bill Causer
Shelves: sciences
A regret of youth which may be remediated is that I read so little of Buckminster Fuller. Indeed, this is likely the only complete book of his I finished as a kid and it wasn't even my copy. A friend loaned it to me one night at the Cogswell Dance Studio in Park Ridge which, for a while, served as an informal youth center for the disaffected youth of our community.
Aug 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. But I found that Bucky's arguments were let down by his style of writing. He has lots of clever, relevant points but they're drowned out in his weird, 'comprehensive' perspective where he keeps going on about universe in a way that seems completely irrelevant to the operating issues at hand.

It is a fascinating document, considering it was written in 1968 and doesn't seem that dated. I would have liked a little less background and a lot more focus on the actual
Dec 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Although it's not a manual it points to the real manual: yourself. The book is clearly a manifest of world centric perspective showing the need to not exploit the planet but rather value it and play. By valuing the planet we also value ourselves. The books reminds us that our biggest strength is to understand and therefore find a adequate response instead of reacting compulsively to events.
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Buckminster Fuller is one of those people up there with Nikola Tesla who fascinate me: a technical visionary with an interest in reframing big world systems who is famous despite not fitting cleaning into the current system or the elite's political interests.

I've tried to read a few books of his but never finished any before this shorter one. I'd highly recommend reading this one if you feel similar to me as it is easier to get through and shorter at ~115 smaller pages.

The takeaways for me from
Mahipal Lunia
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth - Bucky Fuller
As I have return to serious reading, am devouring the works of Bucky and understanding it in a whole new light. Bucky is a genius in the league of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. He was an architect, engineer, geometrician, cartograher, philosopher, futurist, inventor, inspirer.. you get the idea.
His work was very instrumental in my life and in almost everything I do, esp his emphasis on generalized principles. I got back to his classic work
Page Quinton
Aug 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Fuller seems to be missing some important points, these being 1) that specialization is necessary at times and 2) that our resources are in fact finite. He mentions that our society is ever focused on specialization and that this characteristic can be cited as causing the extinction of species. Though this claim is true and perhaps we should be wary of it at times most of our advances do in fact come about by some form of specialization. If we all try to think in the comprehensive manner suggest ...more
David Schwan
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read any Buckminster Fuller in a long time. The writing is a bit opaque yet the thoughts are still quite contemporary. The author writes in metaphor describing the people who really run the world as pirates. Pirates to the author are the only people who really know how the world works; the vast majority of people have no idea how things really work.

This book sees the world as complex and interconnected and is one of many books of its time that advocated a holistic approach to life.

Leah Rich
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a designer and lifelong curious person, this book has been on my must read list ever since learning about the geodesic domes and fullers visions of the future. The book starts out telling a fascinating tale of the history of accessible knowledge and education. The middle of the book kind of lost me, then the last chapter, for me made it all worth it. The last chapter alone is worth everyone reading. The book was written in 69 but is still so valid today. He makes so many important points and ...more
Joseph Estrada
Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting read. Three chapters didn't make any sense to me at all and reeked of pseudo-science.
Frederick Gault
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bucky challenges us to see our planet as the spaceship we live on. He says we can, and must, emerge from the era of the robber barons and use our resources to create true wealth; not just the consensual hallucination of money, but true wealth - which can be measured as a function of how long and well our species can survive into the future.
Craig Evans
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wealth is universal to all mankind. Wealth is a illusion.
Fuller paints both optimistic and pessimistic perspectives of the future of mankind on this planet.
After going through some of the history of our species' expansion, exploitation, and innovations of the past, we are provided with economics and technology and sociological lessons of current contrasted to past and potential future states of being as a culture.
As this edition was published in 1978, the ensuing 40 years have not been kind towa
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Contains a handful of interesting ideas, which are mostly in the zeitgeist fifty years later and better expressed elsewhere. This is some convoluted, pompous writing, full of arguments backed mostly by ahistoric speculations — with not a citation in sight.

This book did not age well.
Mick D
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
beautiful ideas, not beautiful prose
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it
A while ago, I read the Communist Manifesto. It was a curious experience, as I reacted to Marx's assessment of society's condition alternately with "this guy is on point!" and "this guy is full of shit!" I had a similar experience with Fuller, though, perhaps due to obfuscation, but probably at least as much to personal appeal, I had a more favorable impression of Bucky. As Dr Ray Stantz might say, "he's either a certified genius or an authentic wacko," but I am inclined to believe the former.

Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
The book is wacky. Like straight cockadoodle.
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A historical book worth time, but with some reservations

Virtue signaling at its finest. The ideas presented are amazing. The book is well ahead of its time.
But, these concepts are not very practical. Life is not about finding the perfect path or process to follow; life is about finding the best options considering all of you localized limitations.
I do believe in his statement that given 100K people the freedom to purely think the ground breaking result of just one would provide for the other 99,
Jun 14, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a hard book to review as it was so unlike other books I read and very hard to understand. The preface gave great advice, to read it like a foreign language just forge ahead rather than getting caught up on the word or sentence level and rather just try to extract some context and meaning from the pieces you comprehend. Fuller is a fascinating individual with interesting and inspiring ideas. It was sad to read this book from 1969 and see how little has changed in the goal of feeding and s ...more
Paul Bard
This political manifesto sells the disproven and evil idea that the ecology is a machine that will naturally tend towards harmony.

As a consequence of this book, communes started all across the world and failed within a few months or years because of no way to defend innocent hippies from power plays and dominance hierarchy inherent to human nature. Their naivete alone disproves this book, but their failure drives it home.

The truth, proven since the 1980s is that ecology is chaotic emergence of
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are some enjoyable parts to this book, but the author writes as if he is proceeding through a logical argument while doing nothing of the sort. Careful attention is given to dead-end sections of argument while points required to establish the author's case are hand-waved with assertions and false analogies. By the end of the book, the author decided to throw in some random observations and even bolder claims as well (e.g. we should rebuild the cities of antiquity for metaphysically regener ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Admirable for breadth of vision and optimism. Interesting to see how his predictions have or haven't come true. The title is a bit misleading and periodically obnoxious sentences like this show up: "Wealth is the product of the progressive mastery of mind, and is specifically accountable in forward man-days of established metabolic regeneration advantages spelt out in hours of life for specific numbers of individuals released from formerly prescribed entropy-preoccupying tasks for their respecti ...more
Ian Hamilton
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Dated, dense philosophical clusterfudge of a book that largely looks at the stability of Earth's population in light of finite resources, climate change, global conflict, etc. Written in the late 60s, clearly not all of the catastrophic predictions have played out 40+ years later, but these predictions/observations are profound. Fuller was clearly forward-thinking, and much of what he suggests remains pertinent and will likely play out in some degree over the 21st century.

I didn't seek this one
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
He was a cool big picture thinker who saw the opportunity to rid the world of many problems but because of lack of backing could not get it done. Why do we have incredible funds for war but find environmental policies or social policies too costly?

Throughout the book I'm feeling yes I agree! But something even held him up and it bothers me. He was an awesome entrepreneur and technician but I think he was stifled by his communication and politicking abilities. Something I don't want to be stifle
Elliot Riley
Sep 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Food for thought if you can stay awake while reading it.

Some good quotes:

"...the spoken word, which took a minimum of two humans to develop, was the first industrial tool...The written word, dictionary, and the book were the first information storing and retrieving systems."

"...every time man makes a new experiment he learns more. He cannot learn less."

thus, under his definition of "wealth" as meaning something more like knowledge or invention:

"Every time we use our wealth it increases."
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reading
Some of it was good, but other parts of it were just too far beyond my understanding, particularly the bit on Synergy. Probably a good read for those with a philosophic or scientific slant to their brains.
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Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, and inventor.

Fuller published more than 30 books, coining or popularizing terms such as "Spaceship Earth", ephemeralization, and synergetic. He also developed numerous inventions, mainly architectural designs, and popularized the widely known geodesic dome. Carbon molecules known as fullerenes were la

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