By HRH The Prince Of Wales, Charles with Tony Juniper & Ian Skelly, Harper, $29.99, 336 pages

10This is quite possibly the most brilliant book of the century. I know, the century is only 11 years old, but still, the wisdom of the ages resides in these pages. If only we could be smart enough to realize it, and then make good and sensible use of it.

The age of mechanization changed everything. Everything. From the way we grew and harvested our food to the ways in which we constructed buildings, not to mention the purposes for those buildings. This year of 2011 will surely be remembered for the earth having suffered more natural disasters than any other year in the world’s history. Major earthquakes and the resulting tsunamis, severe tornados, floods, not to mention aberrant weather patterns over much of the globe. Why is all this happening? No, the author does not assign any blame, other than to point out the many unfavorable things we’ve done to our planet in the name of progress. Perhaps we need to stand back and discover what we’ve so cheerfully thrown away or discarded and ways in which we might reclaim the harmony we’ve so clearly lost.

This hefty book contains a wonderfully detailed index, gorgeous color photos of—and from—every angle of the globe, plus extremely down-to-earth advice. It is in seven sections, the titles of which do not necessarily carry the same meanings as the words usually do. They are: Harmony, Nature, The Golden Thread, Age of Disconnection, Renaissance, Foundations and Relationship.

Throughout, HRH demonstrates the importance of ancient beliefs: the Power of 3; the grammar of harmony; relationships of old to new; similar traditions in nearly every country dating from about the same times or eras; the importance of seeing the big picture. As part of his philosophy he established the School of Traditional Arts in London, devoted to maintaining the living traditions of art, architecture and craftsmanship, with an emphasis on research.

Speaking of research—this time scientific—what an unusual concept this is: rather than work so hard to study the cause of disease, why not discover the causes of health?

HRH The Prince of Wales has, for the last thirty or so years, been an earnest advocate of sustainable agriculture through organic farming, and has indeed put his money where his mouth is. He has established the use of such practices on his own Duchy (of Cornwall) Home Farm, which has not only thrived, but also become a model showplace for such innovations. Hedgerows are not only pretty to look at—they serve a definite purpose. Who knew? The Prince has encouraged the planting of new hedgerows to replace those ripped up, mostly in the cause of progress, but also due to ignorance on the part of too many officials. He is frequently accompanied on fact-finding and/or demonstration trips by his wife and sons, who are also ardent believers in the encouragement of sustainability practices.

Harmony is a beautiful, practical and intelligent book. Highly recommended!

Reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz