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"Mark Sundeen's astonishing and unsettling book goes directly to the largest questions about how we live and what we have lost in a culture obsessed with money. Sundeen tells the story of a gentle and generous man who sought the good life by deciding to live without it. What's most unsettling and astonishing is that he appears to have succeeded." - William Greider
"Maybe it's just this odd, precarious moment we live in, but Daniel Suelo's story seems to offer some broader clues for all of us. Mark Sundeen's account will raise subversive and interesting questions in any open mind." - Bill McKibben
“Suelo isn’t a conflicted zealot, or even a principled aesthete. He’s a contented man who chooses to wander the Earth and do good. He’s also someone you’d want to have a beer with and hear about his life, as full of fortune and enlightenment as it is disappointment and darkness… At its core, The Man Who Quit Money is the story of a man who decided to live outside of society, and is happier for it.” –Men’s Journal
“Sundeen deftly portrays [Suelo] as a likeable, oddly sage guy… who finds happiness in radical simplicity [and] personifies a critique that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt remorse on the treadmill of getting and spending." –Outside Magazine
“Captivating… Suelo emerges as a remarkable and complex character… Sundeen brings his subject vividly to life [and] makes a case for Suelo's relevance to our time.” –The Seattle Times
“Exquisitely timed… The Man Who Quit Money is a slim, quick read that belies the weightiness underneath. The very quality that makes us see a “man walking in America” (Suelo’s words) and be simultaneously attracted and repelled is exposed here in beautiful detail.” –The Missoula Independent
“In America, renunciation breaks the rules, but, as everyone evicted from Zuccotti Park or bludgeoned at Berkeley or just steamed in-between knows, the rules require breaking. Sundeen… sets out to understand the process and logic behind a money-free lifestyle while tracing the spiritual, psychological, physical, and philosophical quest that led this particular man to throw over our society’s arguably counterfeit-yet-prevailing faith in money, or, more precisely, in debt.” –The Rumpus
“A fascinating subject… both resonant as a character study and infinitely thought-provoking in its challenge to all our preconceptions about modern life—and about the small and large hypocrisies people of all philosophies and religious paths assume they need to accept.” –The Salt Lake City Weekly
“Thoughtful and engrossing biography that also explores society’s fixation with financial and material rewards...Although few readers will even consider emulating Suelo’s scavenger lifestyle, his example will at least provoke some serious soul-searching about our collective addiction to cash.” –Booklist
1. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Posted April 2, 2012
It is an honor to be called "Daniel's best friend" in this gripping book about him that describes how he learned to live abundantly by rejecting our cultural beliefs about money. Daniel and I were roommates at the University of Colorado 25 years ago and we have remained close ever since, living in the same tiny town in the desert. So the stories in this book are familiar and dear to me. Mark Sundeen retells Daniel Suelo's many adventures with vivid detail and incredulous mirth, letting the reader decide if he is a Prophet for our times or just a highly amusing bum. In my opinion, Sundeen makes a serious case for how Suelo contends for "the most interesting man in the world" title as he barely wins all-out fistfights with Death and personal demons on glaciers in Alaska, in a monastery in Thailand, or a remote village in Ecuador, and finally atop one of Colorado's highest peaks.
Sundeen also captured the highlights of each major stage in Daniel's spiritual life, showing his growth from an enthusiastic fundamentalist to a serious Old Testament scholar to a mystical cultural anthropologist to a gifted student of world religion to a disillusioned social worker to a desert naturalist to a beloved hobo to a profound visionary in our troubled economic times. More than that, Sundeen paints Daniel's portrait against the canvas of recent social and financial trends in America. He interrelates trickle-down Reaganomics, the rise of neo-Conservatism, the Religious Right and multinational corporations with the Occupy movement, the Rainbow gathering, social welfare programs, the growing rich-poor gap and "freegans" around the world. Before reading this book, it never occured to me how Daniel's life has consistently reflected the zeitgeist of our age.
I noticed a few minor inaccuracies related to my role in Daniel's life. For example, the Russian chess player Igor Ivanov who spent the whole night drinking vodka and arguing politics with Matthew was not just a master but an international grandmaster, the strongest chess mind ever to live in Utah. Also, I was living in California when my ex-girlfriend Linda awoke at three in the morning with a house full of smoke and a small fire burning through the floor where Daniel and Matthew left a candle unattended. She was livid the next day, especially because the imported rug had been a very sentimental gift from my mother. Expecting an apology from Daniel, instead she received a rebuke about being too attached to material objects. But Linda and I did not split up over this incident. The coffee-table that covered the hole in the rug was not Daniel's attempt to hide his mistake, as the text implies, but my own successful solution for "fixing" the whole situation with humor when I returned weeks later. Also, the verb "to hump" is not in my vocabulary, according to my wife, and I am embarrassed by the quotation attributed to me. But again Mark's main point in that paragraph is completely correct, showing the awkwardness between two Christian men, one gay and one heterosexual, who truly love each other after years of intentional celibacy through college.
These minor inaccuracies don't distract from the story, they make it more compelling. Sundeen did a wonderful job portraying the other characters I know, illustrating their dignity and wisdom with appropriate humor and their foibles and frustrations with kindness.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 12, 2012
Great book for anyone fed up with the controls of modern day society. I loved it.
Oops in Chapter 8 though. When describing the history of Moab Sundeen references the groundbreaking for the Eiffel tower in 1897. It was actual started in 1887.
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 15, 2014
Even though I read this book for my Economics class, I am very glad that i did. This story of Suelos life is very interesting and educational.
At first when thinking of life without money it seems impossible and homeless. After seeing how Suelo actually gives to the community and
doesn't beg, you begin to understand that Suelo is no ordinary hobo, but actually a man living free from the concept of money that is
implanted in our lives almost immediately.
Posted October 13, 2013
The Man Who Quit Money by Mark Sundeen is a book that I heard about when listening on day to NPR. Mark was being interviewed about his nonfiction book about Daniel Suelo, a man who abandoned all of his money in 2000 and has been living off the land ever since.
Daniel Suelo embarked on a spiritual, religious, and ethical journey trying to discover who he was and who he wanted to be. His story is incredibly interesting. Daniel makes his home in caves and finds the majority of his food from foraging in the wild and through dumpster diving. Before you "ew" his dumpster treats, get this: most of the food he finds is fully packaged, from grocery store dumpsters, with that day's expiration dates on them.
Okay, I wouldn't want to eat ANY dumpster food, no matter how sealed, but it could be way worse, right?
The Man Who Quit Money gave background into Daniel's current life and the things that make him who he is. There was also a lot of background into the culture of the times, which added to the story. At times, though, I wanted more Daniel and less background.
I think Daniel's story is incredible. He decided to unchain himself from the monetary system completely. It's not for me, but it does remind me that I can do more to help those in need, and maybe refrain from judging some lifestyles, like Daniel's.
After all, maybe that homeless person on the street is down on his luck. . . or maybe he is choosing to live that way. Either way, a little kindness to him won't hurt.
What good did have you done, or will do, today?
Thanks for reading,
Rebecca @ Love at First Book
Posted May 12, 2013
I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. When I started reading it, I thought, how can anyone live without money? And what kind of crazy person would do that? But the more I read, the more I could see why Daniel Suelo chose to quit money and by the end, I was cheering him on! Mark Sundeen did an excellent job profiling this most interesting and fascinating man. This biography is beautifully written. Like other reviewers before me, I suspect I will be thinking about this book and Daniel's story for many, many years to come.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 20, 2012
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Posted December 1, 2012
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Posted November 29, 2012
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