Book Reviews

Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers – The Power of Myth

The Power of Myth book cover
Posted by JoshWhit

If you’re reading a fiction book, you’re reading something that is likely built on the structure outlined by Joseph Campbell. He’s the guy that laid out the idea of the monomyth or the hero’s journey. Posthumously published, Bill Moyers recorded a conversation between the two and they explore the history, mythology, philosophy, and the impact they’ve had historically in The Power of Myth.

Being a philosophy nerd, I love Joseph Campbell. I hadn’t heard of Bill Moyers until this book, but he is also an interesting character to have here. He had a personal relationship with Campbell, so the conversation flows naturally. It’s also obvious how educated both parties are because the questions and answers start simply and build into a much larger, deeper, and meaningful look into stories and how they can help people relate to the world.

The Power of Myth asks the question of “why?” It asks “why are these stories so similar? What is its purpose? How do the similarities between worldwide flood stories influence current life?”

The Power of Myth is a beautiful companion and follow up to The Monomyth. Some of the ideas noticed in the new iteration are things much deeper. Instead of just noting that there is a Polynesian story that matches the story of the Bible, Campbell and Moyer ask why and share theories on this.

The format is a bit odd, it’s basically each chapter is a topic covered in the content. Which makes sense, except that this is an interview book. Think of a print version of an interview. I was worried that Moyer would end up just agreeing with Campbell the whole time. Thank God though, because Moyer is mature enough to be his own person. They end up agreeing a lot, but there are a couple of instances where Moyer disagrees. I enjoyed seeing something like that because it means the person reading can think for themselves as well. It doesn’t make the lessons any less impactful or anything like that.

Regardless, I highly recommend The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyer. There are a few times it gets a bit too esoteric for me personally, but some people connect well with that.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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