Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography

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Overview

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 ...

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Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography

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Overview

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 withthe West—writing 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Huston Smith's experience with world religions began almost at birth: He was born in Soochow, China, in 1919, the son of Methodist missionary parents. He began his career as a college religion professor in the mid-1940s, but from the start, his interest was more than academic: He not only studied but practiced Vedanta Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, and Sufism, each for more than a decade. Tales of Wonder, his autobiography, covers his extraordinarily active and long life. Obviously, Smith is no shut-in; in his book, he describes encounters with Mother Teresa, Aldous Huxley, Reinhold Niebuhr, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Saul Bellow, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., and a host of others.
Matthew Shaer
Midway through his lush new memoir, the religious scholar Huston Smith pauses to rattle off a list of fond remembrances: dancing among the whirling dervishes in Iran, camping with the Aborigines in Australia, sharing a chuckle with a gaggle of Masai warriors on the darkening Serengeti plains. Each anecdote is offered up with minimum explication and just a few choice adjectives, as if Smith's sense of marvel at the strange bounty of the world should suffice. And in most cases, it does.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal

Nearing 90, the author of the classic The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions has at last written a memoir. 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). Essential for students of religion and highly recommended for others as well.


—Graham Christian
San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
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.
Newsweek
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.
Boston Globe
“Tales of Wonder brims with fascinating insights and tidbits.”
Washington Post Book World
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
San Jose Mercury News
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.
CNN.com
“It is the pulse of Smith’s humanity that breathes life into Tales of Wonder.”
Pico Iyer
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!
Bill Moyers
One of our foremost scholars and interpreters of the world’s religions . . . What he has learned, he has applied to life.
Anne Lamott
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.
Jack Miles
Smith is America’s best-loved religion tutor.
Thomas Moore
Huston Smith is the world’s ambassador to religions everywhere.
—Pico Iyer
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!
—Bill Moyers
One of our foremost scholars and interpreters of the world’s religions . . . What he has learned, he has applied to life.
—Anne Lamott
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.
—Jack Miles
Smith is America’s best-loved religion tutor.
—Thomas Moore
Huston Smith is the world’s ambassador to religions everywhere.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061154263
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/12/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 831,753
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet 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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 6, 2009

    A spiritual quest that is truly an adventure

    Huston Smith shares his spiritual journey in these pages, and what a journey it is. Always grounded in his Christian faith, Smith also practices Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. His life and teaching intertwine and we are privileged to get a glimpse into the broad mind and deep heart of this remarkable person. If you have read other books by Smith, this one will give you deeper insight into the person behind and within those books. If you have not, this would be a wonderful introduction.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2013

    Almost there.

    Shoulda, woulda, coulda been sooo much better.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    Tales of Wonder

    This autobiography of Huston Smith truly tells his "adventures chasing the divine." Not only does the reader get a good understanding of the world religions that Huston immersed himself in, but also the joys and sorrows of a life fully lived. It offers direction for those beginning young adulthood, inspiration for all those living into their tenth decade, and hope for those on the path in between.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Great Book For The Open Minded

    This is a great book. After reading three of his other books, he does tend to repeat himself here and there. I expected this book to be full of emotion, and it wasn't. It was very "matter of fact: this is my life-no judgements". Which, only shows that he actually follows what he teaches. The basics of every religion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted December 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted January 16, 2010

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    Posted May 2, 2011

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 7 Customer Reviews

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