Story | 14 Jun, 2022

New Book: Sacred Mountains of the World, Second Edition (Cambridge University Press 2022)

CEESP News: Edwin Bernbaum, Co-Chair of the IUCN WCPA Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas and IUCN CEESP member. 

Cambridge University Press has just published a revised and updated second edition of Sacred Mountains of the World by Edwin Bernbaum, Co-Chair of the CSVPA. The new edition considers additional mountains, as well as impacts of climate change on the sacredness of mountains and implications for environmental and cultural conservation.

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Photo: Edwin Bernbaum

From the Andes to the Himalayas, mountains have an extraordinary power to evoke a sense of the sacred. In the overwhelming wonder and awe that these dramatic features of the landscape awaken, people experience something of deeper significance that imbues their lives with meaning and vitality. Drawing on his extensive research and personal experience as a scholar and climber, Edwin Bernbaum’s Sacred Mountains of the World takes the reader on a fascinating journey exploring the role of mountains in the mythologies, religions, history, literature, and art of cultures around the world. Bernbaum delves into the spiritual dimensions of mountaineering and the implications of sacred mountains for environmental and cultural preservation. This beautifully written, evocative book shows how the contemplation of sacred mountains can transform everyday life, even in cities far from the peaks themselves. Thoroughly revised and updated, this new edition expands on existing material and considers additional sacred mountains, as well as the impacts of climate change on the sacredness of mountains.

Edwin Bernbaum, Ph.D., is Co-Chair of the IUCN Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas (CSVPA). The first edition of Sacred Mountains of the World won the Commonwealth of California’s gold medal for nonfiction and the Giuseppe Mazzotti Special Jury Prize in Italy for literature of mountains, exploration, and ecology. 

See the publisher's website here

From the Preface to the Second Edition

Edwin Bernbaum Photo: Edwin Bernbaum
Since the first edition of Sacred Mountains of the World appeared in 1990, there has been a growing interest in sacred places and a deepening recognition that they provide a sustainable basis for programs of environmental and cultural preservation. When people revere a mountain or other natural site, it acquires for them a special value that makes it worth protecting at all costs – an ultimate value that may, in fact, transcend all cost. To be effective in the long term, environmental programs require the kind of respect for nature found in views of sacred mountains. Without an underlying sense that nature possesses something of deeper reality or significance, conservation efforts lack the bedrock of commitment needed to sustain them. To this end Sacred Mountains of the World provides a wealth of useful information and background material for scientists, environmentalists, protected area managers, policy makers, and others who recognize the need to take the spiritual and cultural significance of nature into account in doing research and protecting the environment.

“Reading this book is like making a pilgrimage to sacred mountains of the world with the people who love and revere them. It provides insights from extensive research and personal experiences of the author into the spiritual, cultural, and aesthetic values of mountains, and fresh ideas for conservation.”

  • Steven R. Beissinger, Faculty Co-Director, Institute for Parks, People, and Biodiversity, University of California, Berkeley

“Ed Bernbaum’s second edition of Sacred Mountains of the World offers a newly polished lens through which we see mountains, not as something to be conquered, leveled, or converted, but instead as where we may find peace, tranquility, and a connection to deeper meaning for our time on this small and fragile planet.”

  • Jonathan B. Jarvis, 18th Director of the US National Park Service

“This astounding book ties literature, art, philosophy, religion, history, and science together in a compelling whole – elevating our understanding and deepening our sensitivity for the world in which we are privileged to live, as long as we can preserve it from our own predation.”

  • Rev. Scotty McLennan, M.Div., J.D., former Dean for Religious Life, Stanford University

“This new edition of Sacred Mountains of the World is a substantially expanded, supremely successful recasting of the fine 1990 original. Bernbaum’s thoroughly researched global survey of the role of mountains in religious thought and practice, cultural imagination, and mountaineering experience is enhanced by his own exceptional photographs and personal references to his own lifelong engagement with mountains.”

  • William A. Graham, Murray A. Albertson Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, Emeritus and University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus, Harvard University

“Bernbaum has created a comprehensive and magisterial overview of the heritage of sacred mountains, in a well written work illustrated with many of his own photographs. He combines historical and cultural knowledge of holy peaks with his firsthand observations and experiences at most of these sites. This book will serve the next generation of readers; it is not likely that in the near future anyone will duplicate his feat of linking scholarly knowledge with field work on a global scale.”

  • H. Bryon Earhart, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Religion, Western Michigan University, Author of Mount Fuji: Icon of Japan