The Different Drum, book review, stop commotion

Book Review : The Different Drum

Book name: The Different Drum

Author: M.Scott Peck (1958-2005)


M.Scott Peck is a psychiatrist well known for his first book “The road less travelled”, which has sold more than 10 million copies approximately.  He has had experience working in various environments most notably as a Lieutenant General of the US army in Okinawa (Japan), Assistant Chief of psychiatry and neurology in the office of the Surgeon General of the US army, and as the Medical director of the New Millford Hospital.  He also was a private practicing psychiatrist in New Millford, Conneticut. He has written various self-help books based on his experience and understanding of the human mind. Later in his life, he devoted much of his time and resources to the Foundation for Community Engagement, founded by him and his wife Lily in 1984. It is a non-profit organization whose prime goal is to address the need for authentic human connection in society by teaching about community building.


In his book called The Different Drum, he talks about the meaning of community and how can one build and maintain communities of their own. According to him, community can be anything from a small number of people meeting up to exchange views for a couple of days, to a full-fledged organization lasting years. He then compares traditional communities with his idea of a ‘true community’. He writes about his experiences with true communities from childhood to adulthood, and why he took it up upon himself to study and teach people how to build and maintain a true community. He then goes into explaining the stages of community (the four stages of evolution from pseudo-community to true community), the characteristics of a true community and what it takes to be a part of a true community (the pitfalls and how they can be solved).  In the final part of the book, he discusses how this entire book is related to the world and various communities that exist (namely the arms race, the Christian church, the US government and empowerment).


Although this book can be too idealistic and an experienced reader can find many flaws in this book, I believe that there is a germ of an idea in this book, and that idea is the creation of community on all levels (local, national and international). The author acknowledges that to get people to come together in an individualistic world like ours is difficult, but not impossible.  He tries to explain the creation of genuine communities that are a safe place to be yourself without judgment. A place where conflicts are resolved without physical or emotional bloodshed, but instead with wisdom and grace. A place where people of different cultural origins, political and religious beliefs can coexist. Only in such an environments can we tackle the issues that we face as a human race such as global warming, terrorism, gun control, war and its effects. Filled with interesting stories, real world examples, experiences and anecdotes, this book can be of much help to someone who deals with societies, communities and groups of various kinds.


Posted in Literature.

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