- Paperback: 26 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 19, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1449518583
- ISBN-13: 978-1449518585
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,297 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,046,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From the Back Cover
Philosopher, naturalist, poet and rugged individualist, Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) has inspired generations of readers to think for themselves, to follow the dictates of their own conscience and to make an art of their lives. This representative sampling of his thought includes five of his most frequently cited and read essays: 'Civil Disobedience, ' his most powerful and influential political essay, exalts the law of conscience over civil law. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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The two central themes of Mr. Thoreau's discontent is slavery and the American War. Mr. Thoreau states that the person has an obligation to stand up and resist when the state is acting improperly. It is not enough simply to complain. Some action is required. Mr. Thoreau seems to focus mostly on not paying taxes and being jailed if necessary. If I understood him correctly, Mr. Thoreau suggests that paying taxes to the government, under some circumstances, is the same as supporting slavery and the Mexican American War.
Among other things, Mr. Thoreau describes a brief stay in jail for refusing to pay a tax. I believe he refused to pay the tax in protest of slavery and the Mexican American War. If I am not mistaken, there were many, including Abraham Lincoln, who were opposed to that war.
I am not in any way a radical. However I read a wide range of literature. The reason I state that is that Saul Alinsky refers to this essay in his work, "Rules For Radicals". If a reader is interested in this essay, one might wish to consider reading "Ruke For Radicals" for purposes of compare and contrasting.
This essay provides one with an abundance of fuel for thought. There is also some material for further study. As an example Mr. Thoreau refers to "Paley". He is referring to William Paley. He quotes a poem by Charles Wolfe. These are both individuals who are worthy of further study should a reader be so inclined.
I am very glad I read this essay. Thank You...
In a quest to “suck out all the marrow of life”, Thoreau lived alone in the woods for 2 years and wrote this powerful book during his time there. Thoreau preaches to simplify our lives to free ourselves from the chains of our material possessions (the more stuff we have, the more we need to work to pay for it), allowing us the free time to truly enjoy life. He lived by a set of moral values and refused to compromise them, leading him to develop the concept of civil disobedience, which later inspired Gandhi and Martin Luther King. He ate a mostly vegan diet and believed that "it is the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals." He preached taking the time to genuinely appreciate the beauty of nature (the earth is “living poetry”). He also encouraged reading the classics (we may be able to “scale heaven” with the great works of the past), taking time to get to know ourselves (“be the Lewis and Clarke of your own streams and oceans”), avoiding newspapers (“I never read any memorable news in a newspaper”), and ensuring that new technologies truly add value before we adopt them (“our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things…they are an improved means to an unimproved end”).
It’s a bit ironic that I’m boasting about Thoreau on Amazon.com from my relatively large home -- two things that he may not have approved of. Not sure if I used the word “ironic” correctly -- Alanis Morissette and I throw that word around recklessly.