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Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky: His Life and Legacy Paperback – March 31, 1992


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Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky: His Life and Legacy + Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals + Reveille for Radicals
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 618 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 31, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067973418X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679734185
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 4.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #775,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chicago-born social activist Saul Alinsky's sharp criticism of what he saw as shortcomings in the civil rights movement and the federal war on poverty make this book timely. Photos.

Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This is an important account of a "complex and idiosyncratic" urban populist who insisted that power was the keystone of social change. Horwitt expands on the work done by P. David Finks in The Radical Vision of Saul Alinsky ( LJ 7/84) to produce a comprehensive appraisal of Alinksy's "colorful confrontational tactics" as a community organizer and his influence on a "succeeding generation of social activists." Streetwise yet reflective, Alinsky was a true believer in the possibility of American democracy as a means of attaining social justice "for ordinary people." Horwitt has done an especially good job discussing Alinsky's youth and personal life. An insightful and well-written study, recommended for all academic and larger public libraries.
- John R. Sillito, Weber State Coll. Lib., Ogden, Ut.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

The book is written with a visible positive attitude to Alinsky's cause.
Nikolay Mihaylov
Although I am only about one hundred pages into this book, it has been both and easy and interesting read so far.
Terenzu 4 America
The well-researched biography gracefully records all the aspects of Alinsky's life, to make a very good read.
Hildegard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This fat biography of an American icon of greatness/evil (take your pick) has something to annoy everyone. Admirers will cringe to learn that their favorite Alinsky stories were mere bluster and self-promotion. Critics will droop when they learn that his references to Lucifer and Marx were deliberate provocative twaddle, not his true beliefs. Those who fell for any of that, meet the real Alinsky in the meticulous research of author Sanford Horwitz. Alinsky was street smart and ivory tower smart - sociology degree, insider studying the Al Capone mob for his PhD in criminology, criminologist for the Illinois state prison system, labor organizer for the CIO who applied union methods to communities, grant-seeker who pried tons of money from Chicago's wealtiest elite (the Marshall Field fortune), and practical idealist raging for justice for underdogs of any flavor. His books Reveille for Radicals and Rules for Radicals don't tell you HOW he organized communties, but this superb biography does. Critics take heed: you don't know half how dangerous he really was. Admirers, this undeservedly obscure bio will geld your high-horse. Put a little reality into your Alinsky - read this book!
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32 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Ronald E. Stackler on September 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is required reading for anyone who is interested in understanding what a "community organizer" is and what he does in Chicago. Barack Obama worked for organizations founded by Saul Alinsky and run by his proteges.
Obama never gives details of his community organizing, but this book tells what he would have been doing for his several years in the 1980's in Chicago: teaching people how to boycott, protest and threaten the economically and politically powerful in order to get what they want.
It is a unique training, to say the least, for a Presidential candidate.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Erehwon on May 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Reading the forward from the author accurately indicates that this book is more hagiography than biography. I had no confidence that this was an entirely accurate and comprehensive biography. Indeed, the author glosses over the less flattering aspects of Alinsky's life and character (of which there are a great many). Fans of Alinsky will, not surprisingly, find herein confirmations of this greatness. Those who are not fans of Alinsky can read between the lines and see the many repellent aspects of Alinsky. I doubt if this book will change many people's attitude about the man.

One of the more interesting revelations was the extent that Alinsky's success in Chicago was based on his cozy relationship to the Roman Catholic archdiocese which aided him with money and political support. On an unseemly note, Alinsky agitated vociferously for U.S. intervention against Germany in the run up to WWII. Yet Alinsky adroitly avoided military service via a deferment he got with the help of the RC church hierarchy.

However one may regard Alinsky there is no doubt that he was a modern master of political gamesmanship and manipulation. While he used these skills and techniques for his own ideological purpose they can be applied by anyone promoting whatever ideological perspective they may favor. There is no reason these techniques cannot serve the right as well as they have the left.
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34 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Saul Alinsky was a complex and colorful man of great integrity and a civic activist with world-wide influence. Dedicated to empowering the politically weak and unorganized, Alinsky is rightly credited as the founder of community self-help. In this highly readable account, we come to appreciate Alinsky's empathic genius and his flair for showmanship. He had an uncanny personal gift for discerning which acts of protest would get attention and results, as well as an ability to teach others some of the tricks of the trade. Of all the anecdotes in the book, perhaps the most memorable concerns the time that young Alinsky was hauled before his rabbi for socking a kid who had beat up his own best friend. Alinsky excuses his behavior as "eye for an eye", and part of the "American way". His rabbi's answer is memorable. "You think you're a man because you do what everyone else does. Now I want to tell you something the great Rabbi Hillel said: 'Where there are no men, be thou a man.' I want you to remember that." And Alinsky did.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Hogan on January 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
I approached this book having read Rules for Radicals two or three times over the past 15 years. What I knew of Alinsky, I knew from that book or from the fear and loathing he inspires to this day among reactionary corners of society. Neither of these sources are very reliable when it comes to finding out more about the nuts and bolts of community organizing through the depression on into the 1960s.

For one thing, Alinsky loved to talk himself up as a larger than life character. It's what made him so good at what he did. It's why people across the nation not only turned to him for help, but they organized themselves in order to bring him to California, or Rochester, NY or Kansas City. But as a primary source on himself, Alinsky's books require getting through some of the self promotion.

As for his critics, all I would say is this: to this day some claim Alinsky's tactics and his goals (fighting slumlords, free lunches for children, black people voting and being hired for good jobs proportionately, general self-empowerment) were somehow sinister and worthy of derision. These negative comments say more about his critics and where their intentions are at, and they ought to be ashamed.

Sanford Horwitt does a beautiful job breaking down the triumphs and tragedies of organizing in some very tough communities. He also takes a close look at the relationships required to actually bring about social change, touching on a vast network of allies from the Chicago Archdiocese to Stokely Carmichael to the founders of Marshall Field's Department Stores.
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