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Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiographyby Huston Smith
Synopses & Reviews
Huston Smith, the man who brought the world's religions to the West, was born almost a century ago to missionary parents in China during the perilous rise of the Communist Party. Smith's lifelong spiritual journey brought him face-to-face with many of the people who shaped the twentieth century. His extraordinary travels around the globe have taken him to the world's holiest places, where he has practiced religion with many of the great spiritual leaders of our time.
Smith's life is a story of uncanny synchronicity. He was there for pivotal moments in human history such as the founding of the United Nations and the student uprising at Tiananmen Square. As he traveled the world he encountered thinkers who shaped the twentieth century. He interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt on the radio; invited Martin Luther King Jr. to speak at an all-white university before the March on Washington; shared ideas with Thomas Merton on his last plane ride before Merton's death in Bangkok; and was rescued while lost in the Serengeti by Masai warriors who took him to the compound of world-renowned anthropologists Louis and Mary Leaky.
In search of intellectual and spiritual treasures, Smith traveled to India to meet with Mother Teresa and befriended the Dalai Lama; he studied Zen at the most challenging monastery in Japan; and he hitchhiked through the desert to meet Aldous Huxley, dropped acid with Timothy Leary, and took peyote with a Native American shaman. He climbed Mount Athos, traipsed through the Holy Land, and was the first to study multiphonic chanting by monks in Tibet, which he recorded with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead. Most important, he shared the world's religions with the West—writing two bestselling books and serving as the focus of a five-part PBS television series by Bill Moyers.
Huston Smith is a national treasure. His life is an extraordinary adventure, and in his amazing Tales of Wonder, he invites you to come along to explore your own vistas of heart, mind, and soul.
Midway through his lush new memoir, the religious scholar Huston Smith pauses to rattle off a list of fond remembrances: dancing among the whirling dervishes in Iran, camping with the Aborigines in Australia, sharing a chuckle with a gaggle of Masai warriors on the darkening Serengeti plains. Each anecdote is offered up with minimum explication and just a few choice adjectives, as if Smith's sense... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) of marvel at the strange bounty of the world should suffice. And in most cases, it does. "Tales of Wonder," co-written with Jeffery Paine, opens in the medieval town of Soochow, China, where Smith's parents served as missionaries, and ends, some 200 pages later, with a quote from Saint John Chrysostom: "Praise for everything. Praise for it all!" In between, Smith meets with some of the 20th century's major luminaries — Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, Martin Luther King, Jr. — and sets out to carve his own name into the face of history. When he was just shy of 40, Smith published his opus "The World's Religions," a now classic study of comparative theology. Its popularity opened the door to a series of professorial posts and several trips around the globe, each one more spectacular than the last. "For me," confides Smith, now nearly 90, "any real reason to travel, even a bad one, was a good reason to pack my bags and set off. If a place was on the map, and especially if it wasn't, I wanted to go and learn what could be learned only there." Reviewed by Matthew Shaer, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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Renowned world-religion scholar Smith has encountered many of the people who have shaped the 20th century--including Mother Teresa, Robert Oppenheimer, and Noam Chomsky. His amazing life and stories make up this inspirational memoir. b&w insert.
“In this delightful autobiography, Smith tells us how he became the dean of world religion experts. Along the way we meet the people who shaped him and shared his journey—a Whos Who of 20th century spiritual America: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama, Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, T.S. Eliot, Thomas Merton and Pete Seeger.... A valuable master class on faith and life.”
— San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
As Stephen Hawking is to science; as Peter Drucker is to economics; and as Joseph Campbell is to mythology; so Huston Smith is to religion. Tales of Wonder is the personal story of the author of the classic The Worlds Religions, the man who taught a nation about the great faiths of the world, and his fascinating encounters with the people who helped shape the 20th century.
About the Author
Huston Smith is internationally known and revered as the premier teacher of world religions. He is the focus of a five-part PBS television series with Bill Moyers and has taught at Washington University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Syracuse University, and the University of California at Berkeley. The recipient of twelve honorary degrees, Smith's fifteen books include his bestselling The World's Religions, Why Religion Matters, and his autobiography, Tales of Wonder.
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