May 2009 Indie Next List
“In the classic The World's Religions, Huston Smith introduced several generations to Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism. Now, with Tales of Wonder, he pulls back the veil on a life well lived, from his childhood as the son of missionaries in China to his involvement in the Civil Rights movement, to his first-hand experience of religious practice.”
— Scott Foley, The Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO
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 Westwriting 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.
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".
Huston Smith is regarded as one of the most prominent authorities on religions of the world. His classic text, "The World's Religions", has seen multiple editions and has sold in excess of three million copies. He has been the subject of a Bill Moyers' PBS series called "The Wisdom of Faith" and is the author of numerous books, including "Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief, The Way Things Are: Conversations with Huston Smith on the Spiritual Life", and "The Soul of Christianity: Restoring the Great Tradition". Jeffery Paine is the author of "Father India, Re-enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes to the West", and "Adventures with the Buddha".
Poignant and readable, Smith recounts professional adventures—meeting Martin Luther King Jr.,befriending Aldous Huxley and the Dalai Lama, dropping acid with Timothy Leary . . . this is what it feels like to have lived a long and interesting life.
In his lush new memoir, the religious scholar Smith dances among the whirling dervishes in Iran, camps with the Aborigines in Australia, shares a chuckle with a gaggle of Masai warriors on the darkening Serengeti plains. Each anecdote reveals Smith’s sense of marvel at the strange bounty of the world
-Washington Post Book World
In this delightful autobiography, Smith tells us how he became the dean of world religions. Intellectual playfulness is definitely the spirit with which this book was written. Right to his final act, Smith is proving to be the consummate professor, giving us a valuable master class on faith and life.
-San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
Smith has long been our clearest and most radiant explorer of all the world’s great religions. Thank heavens for such wisdom, delivered with light and fire!
One of our foremost scholars and interpreters of the world’s religions . . . What he has learned, he has applied to life.
My admiration for Huston Smith’s work is boundless. With each new book I have been astonished, edified, and greatly heartened by his brilliant mind and heart. He is the wisest, sanest religious scholar of them all, and so wonderfully readable.
Smith is America’s best-loved religion tutor.
Huston Smith is the world’s ambassador to religions everywhere.
“Smith parts the curtain on his past and says, “Look!” with the enthusiasm of a child--something he has not yet lost at age 90. The result is a joyous romp with a favorite uncle among holy places and mystics--the most interesting of them the author of the book.”
“Remarkably brief and humbly written for a man of Smith’s fame and accomplishment, Tales deals simply with his life and his encounters with the great and the good (Eleanor Roosevelt, D.T. Suzuki, and Frithjof Schuon, to name a few). Highly recommended.”
Smith . . . [has a gaze that] bespeaks mischief, curiosity, bluntness and wonder . . . In an age of generalized fear and “just say no,” Smith, who taught for years at Berkeley, a venerated figure there, has said “yes” to life’s possibilities.
-San Jose Mercury News
“Tales of Wonder brims with fascinating insights and tidbits.”
“It is the pulse of Smith’s humanity that breathes life into Tales of Wonder.”