Martin Rowe's Reviews > Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation

Radical Hope by Jonathan Lear
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it was amazing

This beautiful and resonant book struck many chords with me. Not only does it demand that you, the reader, reflect on the lessons that we will all have to learn as we move deeper into a century that will very likely ask us to cope with changes caused by a warming planet as devastating and unforeseeable as those that affected Plenty Coups and the Crow nation, but it has made me want to go back and examine my connections to people I've known—particularly Wangari Maathai (about whom I wrote in THE ELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM)—to see if, in some ways, she wasn't the Plenty Coups for her own people.

The author's deep engagement with the Crow people, the boldness of his argument and yet the modesty of his presentation, and fundamentally the kinds of claims that he does NOT make as much as those he does, render RADICAL HOPE a refreshingly open, readable, and stirring book of moral philosophy. If the book feels repetitious, it's mainly because the author wants to be absolutely clear that his central concern is how the experience of cultural devastation MAY have felt to the Crow, and HOW Plenty Coups interpreted the dream presented to him for the future of his people—not WHAT happened or whether Plenty Coups was correct to interpret the dream in the way he did. Some might feel this to be an overly narrow view, and yet I found it to be profoundly persuasive and frankly moving and revelatory: for, Lear suggests, all that may remain to us in the future is the power of the imagination to keep open options in the face of catastrophe and a wholly different world in which everything we know no longer contains meaning. Simply a wonderful book that I cannot recommend highly enough.
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Started Reading
August 20, 2014 – Finished Reading
September 5, 2014 – Shelved

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