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Summary

Martín Prechtel’s experiences growing up on a Pueblo Indian reservation, his years of apprenticing to a Guatemalan shaman, and his flight from Guatemala’s brutal civil war to life in the US inform this lyrical blend of memoir, cultural commentary, and spiritual call to arms. The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic is both an epic story and a cry to the heart of humanity based on the author’s realization that human survival depends on keeping alive the seeds of our “original forgotten spiritual excellence.” 

Prechtel relates our current state of ecological crisis to the rapid disappearance of biodiversity, indigenous cultures, and shared human values. He demonstrates how real human culture is exterminated when real (not genetically modified) seeds are lost. Like plants that become extinct once their required conditions are no longer met, authentic, unmonetized human cultures can no longer survive in the modern world. To “keep the seeds alive” - both literally and metaphorically - they must be planted, harvested, and replanted, just as human culture must become truly engaging and meaningful to the soul, as necessary as food is to the body. The viable seeds of spirituality and culture that lie dormant within us need to “sprout” into broad daylight to create real sets of cultures welcome on Earth.

©2012 Martín Prechtel (P)2020 North Atlantic Books

Critic reviews

"The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic is like one of the seeds Martín Prechtel describes. When planted in fertile ground, the words and thoughts and images and prayers will grow into a life-giving complexity. This is a wondrous and powerful book.” (Derrick Jensen, activist and author of Dreams and Endgame)

"Martín Prechtel has seen it all: He grew up on a Pueblo Indian reservation, was apprenticed to a Guatemalan medicine man and settled in the United States after fleeing the Guatemalan civil war. The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants: Keeping the Seeds Alive (North Atlantic Books) relates the preservation of seeds and plant life to the similar seeds of spirituality in human life as he chronicles his own life journey." (Indian Country)

"The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants: Keeping the Seeds Alive reflects the author's experiences growing up on a Pueblo Indian reservation and his years of apprenticing to a Guatemalan shaman, returning to the US after fleeing the country's civil war... Real human culture is exterminated when the non-genetically modified seeds of plants that feed us are lost - and this approaches the issue both metaphorically and spiritually, discussing how such seeds of spirituality and culture need to be cherished, replanted, and harvested. Collections strong in tribal insights, ecology, spirituality, and autobiography alike will find this a moving, passionate work." (Midwest Book Review)

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