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Civil Disobedience [Paperback]

Henry David Thoreau
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 19, 2009 1449518583 978-1449518585
Civil Disobedience written by legendary author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau is widely considered to be one of the top essays of all time. This great classic which argues that people should not permit governments to overrule will surely attract a whole new generation of readers. For many, Civil Disobedience is required reading for various courses and curriculums. And for others who simply enjoy reading timeless pieces of classic literature, this text by Henry David Thoreau is highly recommended. Published by Classic Books America and beautifully produced, Civil Disobedience would make an ideal gift and it should be a part of everyone's personal library.

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Civil Disobedience + Walden; Or, Life in the Woods (Dover Thrift Editions) + Self-Reliance and Other Essays (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was an American author, transcendentalist, philosopher, naturalist, poet, abolitionist, historian, etc. He is best known for writing Walden. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 26 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449518583
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449518585
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #944,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
124 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of individualism and the fight for justice. November 25, 2004
Civil Disobedience is one of the most importance works of philosophy ever written. Like all great works of philosophy, it is as relevant today as it has ever been, as it transcends space and time. Don't let the abolitionist nature mislead you: this book is not merely about abolition and slavery. Rather, it is about Man Against the State, individuality, and Thoreau's philosophy of how one man can stand up to government and society, driven by his own convictions of right and wrong, as summarized by the timeless quote "Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already".

Thoreau's main point is that the best - and many times, the only - method for fighting injustice is through passive disobedience. By refusing to cooperate with the machinery of injustice, the individual can become the friction that stops the machine. Active resistance is bound for failure, as the machine (the State, society, etc.) is too formidable for the individual to fight. But, by refusing to cooperate, justice can be achieved and injustice toppled.

If you are looking for a marvelous primer on individuality and the fight for justice, start with this book.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
By Medusa
In "Civil Disobedience" Thoreau presents political theories in which he dissects democracy and the interaction between citizens and their government.
Understandably, Thoreau was deeply concerned about injustices he witnessed during his life, such as enslavement of one sixth of the population and the invasion of Mexico by the United States.
Thoreau does not oppose the institution of government; he believes that when a government becomes "abused and perverted", it ceases to represent the will of the people. When a government makes decisions that promulgate harm and injustice, it is the duty of its citizens to rebel and break those chains of injustices.

Arguably, the strongest idea Thoreau presents, is the notion of individualism. Thoreau encourages skepticism of the government and rejects blind loyalty to it. Thoreau perceives citizens, who give blind loyalty to their government's decisions without questioning them, as participants in every injustice committed by that government. Whether this point of view is correct or not, it is worth debating, especially in view of the horrific injustices that are extant in today's world and the way the masses so easily accept them without considering the negative impact on others.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A testament to American Individualism December 31, 2009
By Bagels
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a thoroughly American view on political theory given the emphasis on the individual coupled with the call for civil disobedience. Definitely not for the faint hearted, go into this with a grasp of the events of the day and a willingness to read the entire essay at least twice to fully appreciate Thoreau's points.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Solution to Where America has Gone Wrong May 4, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Civil Disobedience sits quietly in the national psyche as one of the founding documents of modern American liberalism. It's well known to liberals but not well read. It is worth the reading and would likely surprise liberals and non-liberals alike - as it did me. Sure, it's anti-war and anti-slavery, but it's also a lot more. The confused hodgepodge of modern isms that dominate current political thought could use the purity, consistency, and clarity that were second nature to thinkers nearer the American Revolution.

Consider, for example, Thoreau's political philosophy:

"I heartily accept the motto, - "That government is best which governs least;" and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically."

Or his take on government aid to societal improvement:

"Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of the way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way."

Thoreau on economic policy:

"Trade and commerce, if they were not made of India-rubber, would never manage to bounce over the obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way."

1848 was also the year of another seminal work, the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. Where Thoreau looked back to the 18th century, Marx looked forward to the 20th . Where Thoreau recognized that the power of the state will not easily be compartmentalized, that power to do one thing will infect all things, Marx looked to the state to solve every problem.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoreau would be shocked by today's government August 19, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It seems to be a great truth that the most profound points are made in very short works. This is a very influential work by Thoreau that is the foundation of civil disobedience. Gandhi and Martin Luther King were greatly influenced by this work.

A famous quote from this work is "That government is best which governs least". Today's bloated government would literally drive him mad. I've also read "Walden" and it expresses similar sentiments.

This short pamphlet should be read by everyone. I would personally love to see less government and agree that civil disobedience is a very good way to encourage change. It sounds like politicians back then were similar to what we have today. Some things never change.

These kindle freebies have given me a great and easy way to review several items I have wanted to read for years.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars He talks about disobedience from a very privilaged place. ...
He talks about disobedience from a very privilaged place. The ideas he convey aren't without a basis but examples from his own life fail to live up to the standards. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Ogan Mancarci
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 10 days ago by lhyden
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly Fresh
I was in high school the first time I ready this. I wish I was paying more attention then. if our present congress would 're read our founding fathers they'd likely improve their... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Michael Sandlin
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic and a Must Read!
I can't believe I got to be this old and had never read this philosophical treatise on the role of the individual and government in society. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Civil Disobediemce
I think Thoreau has some relevant ideas for now. We do not have a Democracy, but rather an Imperialistic Oligarchy, at best. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Brian S. Koontz
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoreau pertinent today
This classic is as pertinent today as if was when penned originally. His wit and insight continue to ring true with each word and phrase. Still love it!
Published 4 months ago by James Kammerer
5.0 out of 5 stars Reference for resistance
Reference reading for the resistance against the tiranny of national states nowadays. Thoreau shows that the best government is that which governs the least. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Anybody Interested in the US Government
I'm suprised that I never read this book in high school. Maybe it's required reading elsewhere, but in my small school, this title simply never came up. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jay G.
5.0 out of 5 stars A true American
This document is a testament to the true American spirit. He was willing to be jailed for his beliefs and speak out to the injustices that were given to him or those beliefs. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Timothy M. Houle
3.0 out of 5 stars Civil Disobedience
I have a small library containing copies of noted writers works, and found that I needed to purchase a copy of Henry David Thoreau's work. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Charles B. Caessens
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