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Radical Ritual

How Burning Man Changed the World

List Price: $24.00

ON SALE: July 30, 2019 | Hardcover | 5.5 x 8.25, 192 pages | ISBN 9781640092198
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“Neil Shister’s book skillfully traces the evolution of Burning Man and provides rare insights into how this cultural phenomenon is changing the world.” —Michael Mikel, founding board member of the Burning Man Project

Written from Neil Shister’s perspective as a journalist, student of American culture, and six-time participant in Burning Man, Radical Ritual presents the event as vitally, historically important. Shister contends that Burning Man is a significant player in the avant-garde, forging new social paradigms as liberal democracy unravels. Burning Man’s contribution to this new order is postmodern, a fusion of sixties humanism with state-of-the-art Silicon Valley wizardry.

Shister is not alone in his opinion. In 2018, the Smithsonian dedicated its entire Renwick Gallery, located next door to the White House, to an exhibition of Burning Man art and culture. The gathering intertwines conservative and progressive ideas. On one hand it is a celebration of self-reliance, personal accountability, and individual freedom; on the other hand it is based on strong values of inclusion, consensual decision making, and centered, collaborative endeavor.

In a wonderful mix of narrative storytelling and reportage, Radical Ritual discusses how Burning Man has impacted the art world, disaster relief, urban renewal, the utilization of renewable energy, and even the corporate governance of Google. The story concludes with the sudden death in April 2018 of Larry Harvey, now renowned as the philosophical epicenter of the movement.

NEIL SHISTER has been a correspondent with Time, television critic for the Miami Herald, and editor of Atlanta magazine. He’s taught at Hampshire College, Boston University, and The George Washington University. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Côte d’Ivoire (1968-1970). He lives in Washington, D.C. with wife, Cait, and son, William.

Praise

Advance Praise for Radical Ritual

“Masterfully organized and written with a clarity and liveliness that pulls us along, Neil Shister’s Radical Ritual meshes two different approaches to its elusive subject. It combines the intellectual insights of a seasoned objective reporter and analyst who has studied Burning Man’s history and creators in depth with the deeply personal responses of an active (though hardly unquestioning) participant who conveys the experiential feel of being there. The result is a brilliantly successful synthesis and wonderful read from start to finish.” —Carl Smith, author of The Plan of Chicago and professor of American studies and history at Northwestern University

“Neil Shister’s book skillfully traces the evolution of Burning Man and provides rare insights into how this cultural phenomenon is changing the world.” —Michael Mikel, founding board member of the Burning Man Project

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