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The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace Paperback – September 12, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Howard Zinn is a teacher, historian, and social activist, and the author of many books, including the best-selling A People's History of the United States and You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (Beacon / 7127-7 / $13.00 pb). He lives near Boston. Dana Frank, professor of American studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is author of the awardwinning Buy American (Beacon / 4711-2 / $17.50 pb). Robin D. G. Kelley, professor of history at New York University, is author of Race Rebels, Yo' Mama's Disfunktional! (Beacon / 0941-5 / $14.00 pb), and Freedom Dreams (Beacon / 0976-8 / $24.00 cl).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; First edition & printing edition (September 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807014079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807014073
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By "thebluefig" on September 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
Why is the first impulse of American government to use force? Is there another way? In this resounding, influential anthology, the answer is an emphatic 'Yes!' Beginning in the sixth century before Christ the book starts with the compassionate teachings of Buddha and works its way through the history of American wars to our current conflict with Afghanistan. The historical sweep of the book -with essays by William Penn, Jane Addams, Dorothy Day, Emerson, and others- provides a solid base of understanding that nonviolence is not the refuge of the hippy or peace-nik, but has been a vibrant, evolving, and changing alternative to war for nearly 2,600 years.
Everything you would expect in an anthology of peace writing is here: Gandhi, Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience," Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan, et al, but what makes this volume so rewarding is the editor's savvy selections which you may not know as well but are just as important to the nonviolence movement. Beacon Press went and found Martin Luther King's crucial speech at the Riverside Church in NY when, against the advice of many of his supporters, he spoke out gallantly against the Viet Nam War. The other less known pieces -Henry Wallace's appeal to Harry S. Truman, Japanese pacifist Daisaku Ikeda's conversation with Linus Pauling, anti-racism activist Tim Wise (well known, perhaps, only to znet readers) offers a sardonic, yet unflinching look at our current war in Afghanistan, and in what can only be described as a gift to readers, Beacon has included Albert Camus' little read, but mind-bogglingly important "Neither Victims, nor Executioners"- are all rewarding, nourishing, and, to this reader at least, helped to provide a historical understanding of pacifism and rejection of war as the only option for humanity.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Martin McGuinness on January 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
I must admit that I am a bit surprised that this has received two poor reviews in a row. A quick look at the original book shows that The Power of Nonviolence was a true revision of the 60's book. The previous volume, with over 100 selections, was a haphazard affair with so many pieces that you got lost trying to keep the thread of the argument. I think that Professor Zinn should be commended for cutting out a lot of dead wood from the old book. It is curious that previous reviews have pointed out the selections because as I compared the two books I noticed that many of the selections picked out as poor choices were, in fact, part of the original volume carried over to The Power of Nonviolence.
I think the selection are top notch...I mean who really has heard of Tim Wise other than in this anthology? Which brings me to my last point: That it is the easiest criticism of any anthology to critique what it left out. By definition, an anthology should be judged by what is actually included...or so it seems to me. As a first step toward the study of nonviolence, it should be read and considered a success.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on January 22, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I stand second to none in my admiration of the writings and life-work of Howard Zinn. But I'm afraid this anthology is a sad disappointment, reading as if it were thrown together with too little forethought and too much regard for quick marketability. Some of the selections are more judicious than others: the Penn essay is a gem, and Emerson on war is both good and little-printed.
But many of the other selections have been printed so often that one wonders why they need to be trotted out in yet another anthology. Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" and Camus' "Neither Victims Nor Executioners" immediately come to mind. Not that these essays aren't worthy of being read; it's just that they're utterly predictable--and badly edited, at that. Other selections are so abbreviated that they appear mangled. Selections from the Buddha, Gandhi, Ikeda/Pauling are examples here. Finally, other selections seem absolutely ... well, irrelevant. Scott Nearing's selection, and Zinn's own piece on Vietnam fit into this category. Writings on Vietnam, in fact, are way over-represented in the anthology, once again causing one to suspect that old standbys were conveniently trotted out for this anthology.
There are many other better anthologies--e.g., David Barash's *Approaches to Peace.*
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19 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Sundar Narasimhan on May 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was tempted to chime in after reading a previous review that commended the author for his selections. I read the book and had the exact opposite reaction.
Perhaps I'm getting more conservative as I get older, but if this collection is the best representative writing from the defenders of "peace".. sorry, but I'm very worried.
Most of the selections (esp. the ones by Emerson, Thoreau, Gandhi etc.) are not their best pieces. They are either rambling or too short, and do not defend their positions adequately. In particular, they leave open the questions of "when is use of force justified?" and "how can one respond to a corrupt/despotic ruler that insists upon killing his/her opponents?" Personally, I think the author has hastily cobbled together writings from these "famous" writers, rather than actually examining/reading other pieces to cull the best defense. Granted, these writers are distinguished by their prodigious output, and selecting their best writings on peace is no easy task, but that's what I was expecting that Howard had done when we scanned and picked this book for our book club.
I was disappointed.
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