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On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Thoreau & Letter from Birmingham Jail by King Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Kindle, March 12, 2011
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Length: 37 pages

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) (properly pronounced Thaw-roe) was an American author, poet, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher, and leading transcendentalist. He is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state. Thoreau's books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore; while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and "Yankee" love of practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life's true essential needs. He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending abolitionist John Brown. Thoreau's philosophy of civil disobedience influenced the political thoughts and actions of such later figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Thoreau is sometimes cited as an individualist anarchist. Though Civil Disobedience seems to call for improving rather than abolishing government – "I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government" – the direction of this improvement points toward anarchism: "'That government is best which governs not at all;' and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have." Richard Drinnon partly blames Thoreau for the ambiguity, noting that Thoreau's "sly satire, his liking for wide margins for his writing, and his fondness for paradox provided ammunition for widely divergent interpretations of 'Civil Disobedience.'" He further points out that although Thoreau writes that he only wants "at once" a better government, that does not rule out the possibility that a little later he might favor no government.

Product Details

  • File Size: 60 KB
  • Print Length: 37 pages
  • Publisher: Final Arbiter (March 12, 2011)
  • Publication Date: March 12, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004RZHSN6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,493 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I like to thank God for sending leaders who have pave the way for me and my family. Without you doors would not have been opened. Thank you for your sacrifice.
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Thoreau and King accompany each other perfectly in this book. Thoreau tells us that unjust laws should be ignored by the just, and imprisonment for right action is no punishment at all. King's words are of a man intimately familiar with the effect of unjust laws, explaining his course of nonviolent action to religious leaders of the time who considered nonviolent protest extreme. Both pieces discuss race issues of their time - slavery and segregation - and those who prefer maintaining the status quo over meaningful change.

This is a quick read. I made the purchase because recent events in Ferguson Missouri reminded me that I'd never read "Letter from Birmingham Jail" before. I'm glad that I did. If nothing else, both writings will help me recognize my own tendency to favor the comfortable status quo, and to address that tendency head on.
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Didn't know MLKjr was a fan of Henry David. To read these two authors back to back sheds some light on both of them.
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I've read very little Thoreau and enjoyed his arguments for the individual over the state, the shame of American politics over the issue of slavery. His desire to be left apart from the state, yet some how part of society firs with what I'd understood about him, but his stand on slavery was surprising
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Always a great read, applicable even to this day. It is so sad that Dr. King's life was cut short not just because he was such a moving social progressive but because he was a father and husband.
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