Blurbs for Madness at the Gates of the City


howard-zinnBarry Spector’s book is a strikingly imaginative rumination on our society, reaching back into Greek mythology to illuminate the world today. It is a fascinating blend of literature, history and myth, and while we have had many critiques of contemporary America, his is unique in the way it draws upon the Greek gods to examine, with devastating accuracy, our present deities of war and greed. This is truly an original work.
 – Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States


Jack-Kornfield_20111-251x300Our world lives, loves, suffers and triumphs by myth, often unseen and unconsidered. In the tradition of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, Barry Spector makes myths come alive; he helps us in the desperately important task of re-imagining our way. – Jack Kornfield, author of A Path With Heart 



ChrisDowning2014Barry Spector’s Madness At The Gates Of The City explores how Euripides’ Bacchae, written to warn his late 5th century Athenian compatriots of the internal destructive forces threatening their beloved city, might help us look more honestly at the false innocence that sustains our illusions about the American dream and prevents our acknowledging its dark underside. Yet, the book ends with a beautifully voiced “story that could be true”: we could lift these repressive blinders, we could learn to hear and heed an archetypal cry for initiation into a way of being in the world that honors the life-giving energies the Greeks called by the name Dionysos. – Christine Downing, past president of the American Academy of Religion, author of The Goddess: Mythological Images of the Feminine


3a-mmeade-1Madness at the Gates of the City is at once an indictment of America’s obsession with innocence and a treatise on tragedy and myth. Provocative and challenging, it echoes with penetrating ideas and mythic nuances. – Michael Meade, author of The World Behind the World; The Water of Life: Initiation and the Tempering of the Soul; and Fate and Destiny



mumiaLike Freud, Barry Spector has opened a sealed door to the unconscious. Not of an individual, but to a nation. Perhaps Spector would choose “underground,” for this term best reflects the hidden world, consigned to the dungeons of Americana, where the god Dionysus dwells. But Dionysus doesn’t wait below patiently: he escapes a thousand times a day, in music, in dance, in drama, frenzy and myth, sawing through cold brick and the fevered forefront of consciousness. Madness at the Gates of the City: The Myth of American Innocence explores that underworld of national repression and exhumes ancient gods of the Western psyche that were once thought dead and gone to promote the healing balms of balance against the dystopian present of militarism, consumerism, racism and empire. Spector imagines a New America, one at peace with itself, its real self, not its imagined self. Not its Apollonian, paranoid, imperial self. He knows that imagination is often the precursor of lived change, and he wants to be a part of that process, of a new thing being born. – Mumia Abu-Jamal, author of Jailhouse Lawyers and Live from Death Row


CAM00010-475x443Spector uses the ancient mythical confrontation of the puritanical and dictatorial King Pentheus of Thebes with his cousin, the god Dionysus – who shows up at the gates of the city with the liberating blessings of madness as a stranger who is no stranger at all – as the paradigm for a devastating psychoanalytical critique of contemporary America’s attitudes towards the imagined outsider. The power of myth is that it is eternal, and Spector not only offers much to contemplate about today’s society, but also new perspectives upon an ancient classic, Euripides’ tragedy of the Bacchants. – Carl Ruck, Professor of Classics, Boston University, co-author of The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries and Persephone’s Quest: Entheogens and the Origins of Religion


jean_houston_colorIn this disturbing and evocative book, Barry Spector offers us a trenchant commentary on the ignorance, pathos and shadows residing in the American addiction to innocence. Mythologically wise and instructive, the author gives us keys to the hidden kingdom, and the potential to participate in an emerging new and creative story as we once again join forces with the genius inherent in myth and the guidance and warnings that it holds. This is a work that should be read by anyone who wants to make a difference. To respond and become proactive in the mythic tasks that are now upon us, our basic human nature is challenged by Spector to deepen, discover, evolve. We must become mything links. – Jean Houston, author of A Mythic Life, The Possible Human and The Hero and the Goddess


qrcaphotoBarry is a rare bird, an independent thinker, operating outside the academic environment. Yet, he has written a very thoughtful and I think penetrating analysis of the American psyche…this is a book that deserves a wide audience.  In my opinion, if it can find that audience, it has the potential to be one of those important milestone books such as The Man in The Grey Flannel Suit or The Lonely Crowd were some time back. – David Van Nuys, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Sonoma State University and radio host (www.shrinkrapradio.com)


JimFadimanMadness at the Gates of the City: The Myth of American Innocence is a profound and disturbing look at the way we view the world and why the current American worldview seems to be so against commonsense and self-protection. It goes below the economic, political and social arguments of the day to illuminate the puzzling phenomena of an ever-growing number of citizens eagerly supporting and voting against their own self-interest. If you have ever wondered why people seem excited to lower the opportunities for their children, received less effective medical care, erode the their infrastructure and actively work to end their own job opportunities while eagerly and vociferously supporting a further enrichment of the very rich, you need this book. It is only by understanding the deeper psychodynamics that propel us to take counter-intuitive action that we can begin, if not to slow the decline of the American Empire, at least not to be caught in believing that encouraging that decline is patriotic. Waking up from the American dream is not pleasant, but it feels like a far healthier alternative than continuing to sleep walk toward the cliff edge. The book is extraordinarily well written as well as mythologically and historically accurate. – Jim Fadiman, Co-Founder of The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology and author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide


Aftab-OmerMadness at the Gates of the City is ground-breaking and timely and cuts to the core of the contemporary crisis of culture. With brilliance and discipline, Spector disassembles the veil of false innocence that blinds us from facing historical truths. The book has reverberated through student conversations at Meridian University. – Aftab Omer, President, Meridian University



Greg-Voisen-Headshot1I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Barry Spector, author of Madness at the Gates of the City – The Myth of American Innocence. In this book Barry describes the madness of American public life in our time of diminished imagination.  The author states that we have constructed walls, both physical and emotional, to protect against the terror outside.  Inside, while we distract ourselves with consumerism and fundamentalism, the anxiety drains our vanity. This book invites you inside our mythic walls and asks you to examine your own ideas of freedom, community and individualism…If you really want to take a deep dive into the stories we have been telling ourselves and the history that contributed to these stories, then I highly recommend that you read Madness at the Gates of the CityBarry’s book will stir your soul in a way that will inspire you to change your own story so that you might re-craft a new, more compelling story that serves you and everyone you serve on this planet. – L. Greg Voisen, radio host (www.insidepersonalgrowth.com)