The Thumbnail Book Reviews

by John Q McDonald --- 10 March 2003

In the Presence of Fear

Three Essays for a Changed World

by Wendell Berry

After September 11, 2001, Orion journal asked various writers to comment on the state of the world. The title essay of this small collection (just 44 pages) was submitted by Wendell Berry, and instantly became an enormously popular viewpoint. This essay is presented as a list of various observations and thoughts on the state of the world that could create such horrific events as happened on that unforgettable day. Berry, though, has deep insight into our consumer economy and its deep-seated roots. These are essential points to consider when trying to make a more stable, safe, secure, and responsible world. War, of course, is only the simplest answer, and one with the most far-reaching negative affects. You don't get peace through war. Berry's insights are moving and extremely well presented. This essay should be a must-read. This short essay is combined here with two others, which expand upon the environmental and political state of our culture. Berry targets our treatment of the land and environment that support our very existence as indicative of the wasteful nature of our civilization. Indeed, he laments that we lay waste to the resources that should sustain us because we are inherently separated from the means of production. We've delegated our sustenance to mostly massive corporations. Berry calls for nothing short of a revolution in political and cultural thought. I might have suspected this before reading this brilliant little book, but it is clear he is right.

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