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Civil Disobedience Paperback – September 19, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1449518585 ISBN-10: 1449518583

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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 (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #974,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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Customer Reviews

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It's an easy read and worth the time to do so.
Sonita Lewis
These kindle freebies have given me a great and easy way to review several items I have wanted to read for years.
Jeffrey Van Wagoner
Thoreau shows that the best government is that which governs the least.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

125 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Ragnarok Books on November 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
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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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Medusa on February 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
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 By Bagels on December 31, 2009
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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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mark Ledbetter on 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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Van Wagoner VINE VOICE on 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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