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Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Modern Library Chronicles) Paperback – April 8, 2008
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About the Author
From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Kurlansky does a great job of detailing the futile history of war, and the potent history of nonviolence. He provides persuasive arguments for how and why nonviolence works. This is much more than Gandhi and MLK fighting for independence or equal rights... nonviolence works in nearly every situation, and Kurlansky states that it is inevitable that we as humans realize someday how poorly violence has worked, and try other options.
One provocative notion in the book is that once a state officially supports a religion, that religion is corrupted. He cites Constantine's embrace of Christianity with making that formerly nonviolent faith into one that supports war to maintain peace. He also cites Islam as a faith that is about peace, but has been changed due to its status as the official state religion in some nations.
An excellent conversation starter!
EDIT: I met the author at a book signing on the National Mall. He said he was glad to hear I assigned this book to my students, "It's the book I would most like students to read."
1. It seems clear that Kurlansky is a fan of non-violence. That is not in and of itself problematic; in fact, I am quite sympathetic. However, occasionally it feels like he isn't exploring the full picture. For example, he cites a peaceful demonstration before the American Revolution, refusing to let judges chosen by the Crown to be seated in their courthouses, as an example of a non-violent victory: Yet he admits that the colonists had weapons, although they didn't use them. The threat of violence is not non-violence. I admit, though, that I am forgiving of his occasional inconsistency: This is a book demonstrating possibilities more than proving a point.
2. Euro centricity. There is time spent on Latin America and Asia (not much on Africa as I recall) but the lion's share is spent on North America and Europe, and the other areas are often touching those (i.e.Read more ›
The U.S. women's suffrage campaign spanned five generations and required 72 years of persistent effort. Over those years activists worked in every state and lobbied every state legislature. Suffragists were demeaned by slavery abolitionists for staying focused during the civil war and reconstruction years. The abolitionists considered women's centuries of subordinate legal status less significant than their campaign. The XV Amendment that all U.S. citizens' right to vote "not be denied on account of race, color, or previous conditions of servitude" put into effect in 1870 is indicative of this prejudice. With more compassion in the abolitionist camp, the XV could have included the word "gender."
When suffrage activists staged marches and public demonstrations police in major cities rode horses over them, public media of the era reviled them, church pulpits denounced them, judges placed them in insane "asylums" or jails. There institutionalized activists were held without notification to their kin and frequently in solitary confinement.Read more ›
The author has a skimpy bibliography for a work claiming to be "THE history" (no, not "a history," but THE history) and does not bother to use citations for quotations or ideas as controversial as "more Jews were saved by nonviolence than by violence" during World War II (133). Sometimes this flaw takes the form of a "take-home lesson" style sentence that is frankly propagandist and ultimately lazy. "History teaches that somewhere behind every war there are always a few lies used as justifications," is a potent claim that was buttressed by one example (albeit without citations) that is not directly referred to again (39).
This book is a good example of one that will make you believe in a cause that you know very little about. If you want inspiration, read this. If you want knowledge, read something else.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
FRIENDS ROMANS COUNTRYMEN
When the REVOLUTION BEGINS,
KEEP THIS IN MIND>
"THEY" know what to do with violence. Read more
Helps clear one's head from the daily onslaught of violence.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This was a decent book, but it really an American-centric view of the peace movement that often didn't grow beyond reciting key figures and their major works, with a little bit of... Read morePublished 10 months ago by TyrantSwine
With so much political use of warmongering, domestic violence, and the wide use of glamorized war and violent movies as entertainment, the message of this book is a timely reminder... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Dr. A. B. ONEILL
I just thumbed through it, and I think it looks great. I will get to reading it in a month or so.Published 20 months ago by R.K. Herrell
There's a lot of history and clear thinking in this book that questions our permanent war status.
I highly recommend this.
I am using this as a text for a new course on nonviolence. I'll know more when I have taught the course and the students have evaluated the book.Published on May 27, 2013 by Tina Nielson