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The Seventeen Traditions Hardcover – January 30, 2007

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“The Seventeen Traditions brings us back to what’s important in life — and what makes America truly great.” (Jim Hightower, Illinois Times)

From the Back Cover

My boyhood in a small town in Connecticut was shaped by my family, my friends, our neighbors, my chores and hobbies, the town's culture and environment, its schools, libraries, factories, and businesses, their workers, and by storms that came from nowhere to disrupt everything. . . . Yet childhood in any family is a mysterious experience. . . . What shapes the mind, the personality, the character?

So begins this unexpected and extraordinary book by Ralph Nader. Known for his lifetime of selfless activism, Nader now looks back to the earliest days of his own life, to his serene and enriching childhood in bucolic Winsted, Connecticut. From listening to learning, from patriotism to argument, from work to simple enjoyment, Nader revisits seventeen key traditions he absorbed from his parents, his siblings, and the people in his community, and draws from them inspiring lessons for today's society. Warmly human, rich with sensory memories and lasting wisdom, it offers a kind of modern-day parable of how we grow from children into responsible adults—a reminder of a time when nature and community were central to the way we all learned and lived.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (January 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061238279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061238277
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Named by The Atlantic as one of the hundred most influential figures in American history, and by Time and Life magazines as one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth century, Ralph Nader has helped us drive safer cars, eat healthier food, breathe better air, drink cleaner water, and work in safer environments for more than four decades.

The crusading attorney first made headlines in 1965 with his book Unsafe at Any Speed, a scathing indictment that lambasted the auto industry for producing unsafe vehicles. The book led to congressional hearings and automobile safety laws passed in 1966, including the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. He was instrumental in the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC), and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Many lives have been saved by Nader's involvement in the recall of millions of unsafe consumer products, including defective motor vehicles, and in the protection of laborers and the environment. By starting dozens of citizen groups, Ralph Nader has created an atmosphere of corporate and governmental accountability.

Ralph Nader's most popular books include, from Seven Stories, In Pursuit of Justice and The Ralph Nader Reader. His most recent bestselling books were The Good Fight (2004) and The Seventeen Traditions (2007), both published by HarperCollins. "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!" is Nader's first work of imagination. It will be published by Seven Stories Press on September 22, 2009.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

118 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an absolute gem of a book, and the PERFECT GIFT for newlyweds.

I read it in an afternoon, and I confess to it's being a long afternoon of nagging dismay, as I reflected on how many of these lessons we have not taught our three cyber-era teenagers.

The seventeen lessons cover listening, family table, health, history, scarcity, equality, education, discipline, simple enjoyments, reciprocity, independent thinking, charity, work, business, patriotism, solitude, and civics.

While very heavily leavened with autobiographical reflections, this absolutely beautiful, moral, intelligent, well-written book is a gift to us all. For many of us it is too late--if I were starting over my kids would be banned from computers much of the time, and I would have refused the grandparents gifts of a personal TV to each child.

Bottom line: this is a keep-sake book with an enormous amount of common sense and tranditional values with none of the pontifical sanctimony usually found in such books. This is a first rate piece of work and reflection, ably presented in elegant language, and the absolutely perfect gift for all newlyweds you know. Buy ten copies. This kind of decency does not come available very often.
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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Salty Saltillo on March 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the first book I have ever read by Ralph Nader. I never expected to buy and read this book, but I heard a very short interview with Nader on TV in which he mentioned something about his book that caught my attention. On a whim I bought it and I was quite impressed by the simple intelligence that went into writing it. Nader's writing is smart without being in any way pretentious.

We all know (or think we know) who Ralph Nader is, and might be inclined to expect a "cause" book from him. But there is much at work here. This is a smart autobiography written by a private man who is looking back on his childhood. But rather than construct a temporal narrative ("I was born in ..."), Nader tries to recall 17 memorable traditions, values, or ethical practices that were a part of his childhood (family meals, learning to listen, education, discipline, etc) and describes how he learned each one and how it contributed to his moral formation.

While this is not a political book, Nader has a strongly hinted view about where we have come from, who we are, and where we appear to be headed. Nader observes, with a lifetime of experience and insight, that, in the moral, inner life of American society, we have not only not succeeded entirely in defeating the evils of Nader's childhood, but we are also in danger of abandoning or losing so much of what was good. This short reflection on a life lived is a significant contribution in the conversation that leads to stopping and reversing that trend. Anyone who is concerned about our moral substance as citizens in communities and as a society would enjoy this book.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Must read for anyone who is seriously interested in the man and how he became such a great man, even with all the challenges auto makers and others gave him. Having read about his Mothers cooking in the past I knew he came from a great family with ethical beliefs that were far from the me me me mentality so many Americans came and come from.

Appreciate his views on Patriotism in a time when putting a flag on the front porch or lapel passes for patriotism when in fact as he notes so eloquently it requires something called sacrifice starting at the local level.

And solitude. In an era when it seems most kids cant live without text messaging or some computer on when they aren't sleeping, it was so refreshing to read that Mr Naders family was like ours when it comes to appreciating silence and things like reading or playing outside.

And independent thinking which is what makes a leader not a follower, and the fact the being independent thinking may be hard at times, but not when one considers the big picture. Makes one wish he would run for President again......
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mark B. Cohen on August 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The author of this book succeeds here on several levels. First, Ralph Nader explains himself well: who he is, and how he got to become who he is.

Second, the author explains how growing up in a low-media, high intensity household gave him lifelong advantages, insights, and commitments--things he might not have had he been enmeshed in movies, television shows, video games, rap music, etc.

Third, the author details the family traditions from Lebanese parents that were especially useful to him during his 45 years or so of national leadership of various causes.

Fourth, the author provides a warm evocation of a Christian Arabic family that can aid in improving understanding of Arab speaking people in and outside the United States.

The seventeen traditions that the author discovers in mining his family history are the traditions of listening, the family table, health, history, scarcity, sibling equality, education and argument, discipline, simple enjoyments, reciprocity, independent thinking, charity, work, business, patriotism, solitude and civics. These are traditions, he demonstrates, that his family lived, not just ideals that they mouthed.

Had this book been published the year before the 1992 Presidential election, when the author was toying with seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination, he could well have been a serious candidate for that nomination and changed both his political future and the direction of our country. Without pretentiousness, it shows him to be a man of depth, understanding and roots in small-town America.
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