An intriguing, if not always riveting, memoir about a green engineer’s personal and professional evolution.

THE GODFATHER OF GREEN

AN ECO-SPIRITUAL MEMOIR

An environmental activist finds inspiration in Eastern mysticism in this memoir from Yudelson (Reinventing Green Building, 2016, etc.).

Yudelson’s journey into environmentalism was one more of necessity than ideology. When the author was growing up in suburban Los Angeles, the smog and polluted beaches represented a direct infringement on his quality of life. His goal was to become an engineer, but the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s—plus the degradation he noticed in the landscape around him—drove him into the nascent environmentalist movement. He dropped out of graduate school at the California Institute of Technology two months after planning the Caltech event for the first Earth Day in 1970 and threw himself into a career as an environmental engineer. The final component in his evolution as an eco-activist was perhaps an unexpected one: a spiritual dimension. He found it in the teachings of Baba Muktananda, an Indian guru whose practice involved meditation and yoga. After meeting Baba in 1974 during a retreat in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Yudelson began a decadeslong intercontinental journey blending spiritual philosophy with environmental design practices, pioneering a new field of green building and earning the nickname “the Godfather of Green.” Yudelson’s prose is simple yet elegant, infused with the sincerity of a true believer. Here he describes the sensation he felt when Baba Muktananda first touched him: “As Baba’s energy moves around inside my head, my mind becomes still, perhaps for the first time. I am both inside my body and, in my awareness, floating freely, somewhere outside. The energy invokes feelings: blissful, unexpected, intensely familiar.” The book is hardly a page-turner: Yudelson’s adventures are impressive without being inherently exciting—they are largely summarized, not dramatized, and the tensest moments usually involve a guru (whom skeptical readers will revere far less than the author does). Even so, Yudelson’s blend of environmentalism and spiritualism captures an overlapping sensibility that was perhaps more common among an earlier generation than it is today. His story is an illustrative one for those interested in the roots of the green movement in 1960s protest culture and the ways that it has evolved to become a powerful force in our own critical period of climate change. 

An intriguing, if not always riveting, memoir about a green engineer’s personal and professional evolution.

Pub Date: April 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-948018-72-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2020

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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