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549 of 612 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Explains a Lot of Things ...
The purpose for my reading this book was self-educational and an effort to be open-minded about the broad political spectrum that exists today. I found Alinsky's book to be enlightening, thought-provoking, interesting and very relevant. In fact, I strongly feel that "Rules for Radicals" provides a great deal of insight to the current state of political discourse in...
Published on May 22, 2010 by DACHokie

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122 of 150 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Radical's Book
This book is a methodical collection of thoughts, actions, and principles from the master 1930s-70s radical, Saul Alinsky, for maximizing opportunities to influence masses of people into rejecting and fighting the status quo. If you share Alinsky's basic and fundamental beliefs, this book is a great 'how-to' for becoming a radical and political activist. If you are...
Published on September 18, 2009 by Matthew Dodd


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549 of 612 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Explains a Lot of Things ..., May 22, 2010
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This review is from: Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (Paperback)
The purpose for my reading this book was self-educational and an effort to be open-minded about the broad political spectrum that exists today. I found Alinsky's book to be enlightening, thought-provoking, interesting and very relevant. In fact, I strongly feel that "Rules for Radicals" provides a great deal of insight to the current state of political discourse in United States. However, after reading the book, I found myself wondering if Alinsky ever imagined his "radicals" achieving success to the point in which they themselves ultimately become victims of their own methods.

"Rules for Radicals" is essentially a guidebook that encourages individuals to gather, organize and develop a battle-plan to spread a socialist agenda; there is even a list of tactics to be used. Alinsky has conveniently simplified the complex socio-economic landscape of the United States into three groups: The Haves (upper-class), The Have Some, Want More (middle-class) and Have-nots (poor). It is explained that the Haves are the minority that possesses all the wealth/power which is used to ruthlessly exploit the lower classes to enforce their status-quo and maintain their wealth/ power. The Have-Some and Have-nots are basically characterized as being numerically strong, but also mindless and weak ... forced to a life dictated by the Haves. Alinsky then introduces the "community organizer" ... the do-gooder ... the pot-stirrer ... the "social-conscience" ... the one who will fight for those who "can't" or "won't" fight for themselves ... the one who will "take it to" the Haves. Ironically, I found that Alinsky's book provided more explanation of what our current President did prior to being in public office than any media source has ever tried to convey.

Alinsky then informs the reader what is needed to become an effective organizer in terms of education and necessary communication skills. But, in my opinion, the most revealing portion of his book is the chapter on tactics, where Alinsky details 13 rules to be implemented by the organizer(s) to take down the Haves. That chapter alone provided so much insight as to how the current leadership in this country came to power. The 5th, 8th and 13th rules ("Ridicule is man's most potent weapon", "Keep the pressure on" and "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it" respectively) could easily explain the demise of President George W. Bush.

The remainder of the book provides assistance on how to get started, as well as citing a few successful examples of a competent organizer implementing the suggested tactics.

What Alinsky fails to explain though, is what happens when the organizers become the new Haves ... like today. Yes, the targets presented by the new Haves are still the traditional Haves (the wealthy corporations and their hierarchy), but the organizers also possess wealth and power ... meanwhile, the Have-Some and Have-Nots still wallow in the same state, despite all the political rhetoric and promise. So, I am asking myself if Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" is simply instructions for one group of Haves to use against another group of Haves. Yet another way to exploit the masses by duping them into thinking someone is actually fighting on their behalf?

What I found quite amazing after reading "Rules for Radicals" is that I feel that I had stumbled upon THE liberal playbook. It is quite easy to look back at the lead-up to the elections of 2006 and 2008 and see Alinsky's handiwork. But, I find myself wondering if the "radicals" now in charge have unwittingly positioned themselves to be victims of their own game ... I guess that answer may come in 2010 and/or 2012.
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86 of 104 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Study in Contradictions, July 16, 2009
By 
Ron Braithwaite "Hummingbird God" (El Indio, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (Paperback)
'Rules for Radicals' is nothing less than Alinsky's 'Mein Kampf'. He even cites the advantages of imprisonment for book writing which Hitler would have certainly agreed with. I have awarded this book 4 stars because it gives important insights into the philosophical underpinnings of Barack H. Obama, not because it is a great book and certainly not because I agree with it in most important areas.

At the same time, I recognize that Alinsky had qualities that most Leftist ideologues simply don't have. He was genuinely intelligent and had a deep knowledge and appreciation for frail human nature. He recognized the strengths and weaknesses of his adherents and opponents and used them for his own advantage. Not so surprisingly he places his motivations in JudeoChristian morality but then turns around and rejects morality when manipulating means to achieve these admirable goals. Enter Barack Obama. Lies, trickery and subterfuge are justiable in promoting revolutionary goals.

Many of his words, tactics and motives were tactics...but...there was a decisive difference. Whereas Marx looked to an end game of perfect communistic bliss, Alinsky regarded this as unrealistic. He advocated a program of institutionalized revolution which would, of course, fit perfectly with his personality because he, personally, was the institutionalization of Left Revolution.

Why perpetual revolution? He never quite spells it out. As a matter of fact he glosses over it. It's fun. It's a living. If his feet were put to the fire, however, he would probably say that should we succeed in elevating a certain underprivileged class, they quickly become a privileged class and must, in their turn, be agitated and torn down to make room for those relatively less privileged than they are....and...ad infinitum. Stalin, of course, did something similar by killing the upper crust of Russian peasantry [the Kulaks] which, inevitably, caused those under them to fill their slots. Stalin then killed them off. The next group rose and were murdered...until Stalin was left with only pasive, hopeless people.

Alinsky's stated motives are to support the poor and oppressed in their struggle for a better life. At the same time, however, we are left with the niggling suspicion that Alinsky, himself, in all his acquired wisdom, manipulates the poor and oppressed for his own purposes. Alinsky might have agreed. He says that ego is an important motivator for a revolutionary as is self-interest. If it makes him [Alinsky] feel personally good to 'help' the poor and oppressed, then it satisfies his criterion of self-interest.

Alinsky is intelligent and philosophical with a broad wealth of knowledge but, at the same time, he may have been, at his heart, a violent person. An Alinsky quote: 'I have on occasion remarked that I feel confident that I could persuade a millionaire on a Friday to subsidize a revolution for Saturday out of which he would make a huge profit on Sunday even though he was certain to be executed [by the revolution he financed] on Sunday.' This, of course, although violent and reprehensible, is not a new thought. It is merely a restatement of Lenin's famous phrase: 'The capitalists will fashion the rope they hang themselves with.'

Alinsky also recommended fixing and personalizing your enemies, even if they weren't much 'enemies'. Should an enemy or adverse issue be 48% right and you think that you, or your issue, are 52% right. You must act as if the enemy were 100% wrong and you 100% right...moral relativism [which Alinsky thoroughly agreed with]. Therefore take a political figure that you are in some small disagreement with; paint her as a common harlot, unintelligent with sexual proclivities toward small children.

This is where Alinsky was coming from tactically and because it worked he wouldn't have seen it as 'wrong' or 'immoral' but a simple tactical expedient. Here you see one of the major influences that Alinsky has had on the Democrat Left, in general, and Barack Obama in particular.

As an aside, I may have met Alinsky personally. It was in Los Angeles in 1967 and I was about 22 years old at the time. A friend invited me to attend an antiwar meeting entitled, 'The Loyal Opposition.' Well I wasn't into the antiwar thing but I decided to humor my friend and went. It was a small meeting with maybe 25 people presided over by an older man [Alinsky?]. I, of course, expected an antiwar meeting with an emphasis on American principles. Man, was I wrong. It was a meeting promoting outright sedition.

After listening to the spokesman awhile preaching about the total disruption and fornication of American, I stood up and retaliated with arguments that set him right back on his heels. I asked him why he had lied by entitling his meeting the 'Loyal' opposition. It turned into a shouting match with plenty of profanity and strong language coming from him...perfectly in keeping with Alinsky. The meeting broke up in turmoil which I was entirely responsible for. Good.

Ron Braithwaite
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122 of 150 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Radical's Book, September 18, 2009
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This review is from: Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (Paperback)
This book is a methodical collection of thoughts, actions, and principles from the master 1930s-70s radical, Saul Alinsky, for maximizing opportunities to influence masses of people into rejecting and fighting the status quo. If you share Alinsky's basic and fundamental beliefs, this book is a great 'how-to' for becoming a radical and political activist. If you are opposed to Alinsky's political activism, born out of his negative outlook of and perspectives on our American way of life, this book can help you understand the methods and the 'madness' of those people and forces that disrupt and try to tear down our traditional societal norms.

This book was not an easy read for I disagreed strongly with what he said about my country that I love and his general outlook on life. Alinsky used the following terms interchangeably: "activist," "radical," "organizer," "agitator,"
"revolutionary," and "man of action." Another 'word group' used frequently was the many forms and variations of "organize" and "organizer" - some 356 times in 196 pages. I found his approach to change and reform crafty, cunning, deceitful, insidious, and disingenuous. His methods are masterfully designed to take advantage of our imperfect systems, and human weaknesses and tendencies. Another disturbing aspect of the book was the predominance of militaristic language when discussing the 'how' and 'why' of his logic: war, battle, attack, tactics, enemy, and strategy.

Alinsky was smart and well-read, but I believe he chose to put his intellect and energies to use for detrimental purposes. He offered many observations and perspectives that differed from my own beliefs and experiences, which was not necessarily a problem, but coming after his "acknowledgment to... the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom - Lucifer," I found his logic and morals seriously flawed.

Rating this book was a new challenge for me. I vehemently disagreed with so much of the content that giving it a lot of stars was out of the question. Objectively, it was well-written and structured to support the author's perspectives, so in that sense it was not a bad book. In the end, however, taken together, I believe Alinsky's beliefs and methods are negative, destructive, and counter-productive, and I could not rate this book as high as books that contribute more positively to the advancement of our American way of life.
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210 of 261 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Obama, March 12, 2009
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This review is from: Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (Paperback)
Having grown up in the sixties, remembering and participating in school sit-ins I was eager to reacquaint my self with a long lost name from the past. Saul D. Alinsky has been in the news again over the past year because of the campaign of Barak Obama the Chicago community organizer, turned politician.

This book, "Rules for Radicals" is must reading for anyone who desires insight into what is ahead for this country. There are several sections of the book, which after you read them, you think isn't that just what happened, or oh that's why he did this. The book is a collection of ideas, situations and anecdotes spun into an easygoing yarn of the life of a community organizer. An organizer helps the have-nots get what the haves have, and then he goes and helps the have-not's get what the haves have and then ... well you get the idea.

A must read for the curious and politically inclined.
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117 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best insights into the world view of our current administration, July 31, 2009
This review is from: Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (Paperback)
This book will reveal uncanny similarities in ideology and precise buzz words and phrases such as "Hope and Change" and "Yes We Can" between the author and our current president. Knowing that President Obama was an admirer and student of the original Community Organizer, Saul Alinski, I found this book a must read to arrive at an understanding of their methods and motive. They are clear: Tear down the entire system by any means necessary.

While I regret seeing book royalty money going to nefarious people and causes, I made the sacrifice in exchange of factual information and confirmation.
You doubt? Read it...and weep.
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720 of 918 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What you are is what you were, May 24, 2009
This review is from: Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (Paperback)
It's well known that Obama's early years were seriously affected by his association with Bill Ayres and the teachings of Saul Alinsky which seem to be codified and laid out in "Rules for Radicals."

As an elderly citizen who is very interested in politics and extremely concerned about our country's direction I'm reading Rules for Radicals.
Watching Obama's run for election, his rhetoric and every one of his moves it is frightening to see how much Alinsky's words are like a playbook for every thing Obama has done and said.

I wish more Americans would read it if they could and understand it if they could but our present day under-educated government population couldn't handle it!

Very sincerely,
Charles M. Dean
Woodstock, Ga.
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111 of 141 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE Blueprint, March 9, 2009
This review is from: Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (Paperback)
I found this book very enlightening. I am not a politician but I wanted to know why people were comparing Obama to Alinsky! I beleive that this book is the blueprint and map that Obama used to get where he is now and God help us on where he is leading us!
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532 of 696 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the Spoiled Brat Revolution, January 26, 2009
This review is from: Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (Paperback)
That's right, Mr. Alinsky has perfected the art of stomping your feet until you get your way. At least that appears to be his method. It explains a lot of the 'spoiled brat' revolutions we see today. I am not saying that there are not any causes without substance. Just a lot that seem to follow the same recipe. You know, the victim mentality that surrounds us continuously and the idea that the rest of us are somehow complicit in someone else's woes.

Enough of that. There are two chapters that comprise the meat of this book: 'In the Beginning' and 'Tactics'. The chapter on 'Communications' is somewhat worthy as well. The rest is just a semantic argument that justifies the authors excesses. We ponder important questions like 'Does the end justify the means'? Could you believe: of course it does if your the one involved in the means! There is even a chapter on disseminating the meaning of certain words like 'power', 'compromise', and 'conflict'. He even quotes Nietzsche and his 'Tartuffery of words'. Talk about semantics!

But all is not lost. The book is actually quite informative and fun to read. You might even fancy yourself standing up to authority and saying 'No Mr. Mayor, We're not going to take it anymore'. And rules! Yes there are rules! Like my favorite: 'making the enemy live up to their own rules'. That one never gets tiring and is the source of endless amusement for those of us 'in the know'. In fact his list of rules is one of the most useful parts of the book. And knowing them can help those having to deal with people like Mr. Alinsky.

The bottom line is that the authors methods can be very useful although there is no guarantee that someone using them will do so for the common good. At one point as I read the book I saw myself rating it a 1 star and then at another, a 5 star. I settled on a compromise at 3 stars. Mr. Alinsky would be proud. Welcome to the revolution!
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35 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must reading for every American, June 28, 2010
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This review is from: Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (Paperback)
I purchased Alinsky's Rules for Radicals simply because I'd heard so much about it in reference to Hilary Clinton and the Obama administration, that I wanted to read it for myself. It is a basic handbook on how to bend the organization (in this case, the government and the American people) to think the way you want them to think, to vote the way you want them to vote, regardless if it is for the good of the people or not. There's too many political comments that can be made about this book that have nothing to do with an actual review. Instead, I'll say if you want to understand better how political campaigns work, how the government is able to circumvent the will of the people, you should read this book. Many in the political realms say the book is geared toward Socialist and Communist rulers and rulings, but I disagree. I think many if not most of this book can be applied toward any current political group or politician. It's a book that could be titled "how to get your way no matter what". Very informative
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57 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tactical rules which poisoned America's politics and polarized its people, October 26, 2009
By 
Marvin D. Pipher (Houston, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (Paperback)
This Chicago based socialist/activist author has, in all likelihood, done more to "change" modern America and to polarize its people and its politics than any other man; and this book spells out precisely how his minions and his disciples (including such Chicago notables as Hillary Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, and those in ACORN who indoctrinated Barack Obama) did it. I emphasize the word "change" since that was a major thrust of the author. The ramifications of this book go far beyond its date of publication. For it is exactly as its title asserts: a set of tactics and tactical rules to be adhered to by organizers, radicals, activists, and revolutionaries in their drive to overthrow the establishment and, as the author says, "CHANGE THE WORLD FROM WHAT IT IS TO WHAT THEY BELIEVE IT SHOULD BE."

The book is loosely divided into three parts. Initially, the author presents his view of life and society, revealing his own radical ideology. As he sees it, society is structured in three levels: At the top are what he terms the "Haves" (nowadays termed "The Rich") - the few who have the money, the power, and the law on their side and whose primary interest is in maintaining the status quo. At the bottom are the "Have-Nots" - those who have little money, no power, and no hope of bettering their condition but who have a strong desire to relieve the "Haves" of what they possess. In the middle are the "Have-a-Little, Want Mores" (the middle class) - those who have a little and want to keep it and are generally too complacent to take any action to improve their lot. The (to me somewhat fanciful) goal, as asserted by the author, is to educate radicals and provide the tactics and tactical rules by which they can lead the "Have-Nots" to the promised land of money and power by taking what the "Haves" have.

In the mid-section of the book, Alinsky identifies the types of people who will made good radical organizers and explains how they should be trained. Then, in the third part he mandates the tactics and tactical rules which they must employ to achieve their ends.

Here are a few excerpts from the book to whet the reader's appetite: A revolutionary organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of their lives--agitate, create disenchantment and discontent. (pg. xxi) Remember: once you organize people around something as commonly agreed upon as pollution, then an organized people is on the move. (pg. xxiii) History is a relay of revolutions; the torch of idealism is carried by the revolutionary group until this group becomes an establishment, and then quietly the torch is put down to wait until a new revolutionary group picks it up for the next leg of the run. Thus the revolutionary cycle goes on. (pg. 22) The eleventh rule of the ethics of means and ends is that goals must be phrased in general terms like "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," "Of the Common Welfare," "Pursuit of Happiness," or " Bread and Peace." ["Change"?] (pg. 45) The job of the organizer is to maneuver and bait the establishment so that it will publicly attack him as a "dangerous enemy." (pg. 100) But it is equally difficult for you to surrender that little image of God created in our own likeness, which lurks in all of us and tells us that we secretly believe that we know what's best for the people. (pg.123) As we have indicated before, all issues must be polarized if action is to follow. (pg. 133) Fifth rule: Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. (pg. 128) Eighth rule: Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose. (pg. 128) Rule thirteen: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. (pg. 130) A leader may struggle toward a decision and weigh the merits and demerits of a situation which is 52 per cent positive and 48 per cent negative, but once the decision is reached he must assume that his cause is 100 per cent positive and the opposition 100 per cent negative. (pg. 134)

As I began reading this book, first published 38 years ago, it became apparent to me that, although people may not have known it at the time and most may still not know it, the author, Chicago based socialist/activist Saul Alinsky, may very well have been the most dangerous man in America. And time has pretty well borne that out since, in the main, radical leaders are now in power and now dominate America's political scene. Strangely enough, however, the real "Have-Nots," those without money, power, and hope, are pretty much where they've always been and where they will always to be, but now they're waiting for the "Have-a-Little, Want Mores" to join them.

There can be no doubt that, at the community level, Saul Alinksy's methods did much good work and relieved much suffering. But when applied at the national level they have poisoned America's political process and polarized the nation. So, although I feel that the implementation of Alinsky's methods has done great harm, when viewed from the standpoint of its intended purpose, this book rates five stars. Everyone should at least be aware of it.
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Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals
Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul D. Alinsky (Paperback - October 23, 1989)
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