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Reveille for Radicals Paperback – October 23, 1989

3.9 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Alinsky is that rarity in American life, a superlative organizer, strategist, and tactician who is also a social philosopher.”
—Charles E. Silberman

“He cannot be bought; he cannot be intimidated; and he breaks all the rules.”
The Economist (London)

“I consider him to be one of the few really great men of our century.”
—Jacques Maritain

From the Inside Flap

First published in 1946 and updated in 1969 with a new Introduction and Afterword, this volume represents the fullest statement of the political philosophy and practical methodology of one of the most important figures in the history of American radicalism. Like Thomas Paine before him, Saul Alinsky, through the concept and practice of community organizing, was able to embody for his era both the urgency of radical political action and the imperative of rational political discourse. His work and writing bequeathed a new method and style of social change to American communities that will remain a permanent part of the American political landscape.
"Alinsky is that rarity in American life, a superlative organizer, strategist, and tactician who is also a social philosopher."
-- Charles E. Silberman
"He cannot be bought; he cannot be intimidated; and he breaks all the rules."
-- The Economist
(London)
"I consider him to be one of the few really great men of our century."
-- Jacques Maritain
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (October 23, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679721126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679721123
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This book was Alinsky's first and most impassioned writing. In it, he shows in detail the techniques he employed in putting together much of his activism, which ended up being called the Alinsky doctrine later on.
Overall, I thought this book was great to impassion a reader new to the subject, yet as a guidebook for a new "radical", I thought his later (and less impassioned, though more passionate than 99% of other books) "Rules for Radicals" was much more clear minded. As he writes in the later book, much of Reveille was written during his time in prison, which shows.
Personally, I recommend reading Rules first, and then proceeding to Reveille. The reader will benefit from his clear minded analysis in Rules, to then better understand his arguments and passion in Reveille.
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The beginning and end of this book, about Alinsky's ideology, are not that interesting; Alinsky was no political philosopher and really wasn't that much different from Bernie Sanders or millions of other progressives. The middle of the book is a bit more distinctive; most of it is essentially kind of a "How to Win Friends and Influence People" guide for people organizing in local politics, and many of Alinsky's insights could be just as easily applied by conservatives as by radicals.

Here's an example of Alinsky tactics at their best: teenagers are going to the gambling dens, and their parents don't approve. The community organizers discover who runs the gambling house (named "Honest John" for the purposes of the book), and that he craves respectability. So they create a juvenile deliquency committee, make Honest John the head of it, and have someone bring up the teenager problem. Honest John discovers that his desire to be respectable outweighs whatever money he gets from teenagers, and goes along with the rest of the committee.

Some of my fellow Republicans like to compare Obama to Alinsky, but it seems to me the comparison is quite absurd except in a very broad sense. Both Obama and Alinsky are progressives with vaguely similar ideological goals such as a more generous welfare state.

But Alinsky was most interested in the nitty-gritty of local politics and community relations; he wrote about how to bring together a coalition of neighbors around the narrowest of issues. Moreover, Obama is much more focused on broad national issues, and seems to me to be better at abstract logic than in the one-on-one human relations that Alinsky writes about. For example, if Obama had been the community organizer in the "Honest John" situation, he would have given a speech about how Honest John was obstructing progress, gotten nothing done, and moved on to the next issue.
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I admire Saul Alinsky's passion as a true believer. He was the real deal wither or not you agree with his methods and philosophy. I enjoyed reading his work as literature/history/adventure of his life. I don't personal agree with all his thoughts.

This book is the precursor to " Rules For Radicals". You don't need to buy both ( as I did) . Rules For Radicals ( written years later) is basically the better version of Reveille for Radicals.
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Wonderful book!!! Author Alinsky describes his work as a community organizer with the clear eyes of a loving cynic - along with a delicious sense of humor. He obviously loved humanity, while clearly seeing our warts and was determined to better our lot.
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If want to know what is driving President Obama's agenda, this book answers many questions regarding where his strategy originated. Saul Alinsky was a 60's radical and you will see the parallels between the two men very clearly. This is a short book, but a mandatory read for Americans who want to see where President Obama wants to take our country. Each reader can be the judge of the final outcome.
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Read as research on a follow up to a Conservative email. The email was a fabrication of what Mr. Alinsky stated. Though he refers to his social opposition as the enemy, he never refers to destroying America nor is he a Communist.
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Saul Alinsky terrified a certain segment of America. So much so that his legacy as an organizer is still talked about today, with part reverence, part wagging fingers. He fought for the people, the Have-nots, against the giants of the society, the Haves. The fight was/is inherently mismatched, like fighting a tank with stones and broken sticks. The poor may have power in numbers, but Alinsky had to be utterly objective in seeing the world to utilize that power - starting from where the people and circumstances are, not from where he would have liked them to be. All that tactics and strategies he hurled against the Haves had been transcribed in this book, though perhaps bit more coherently in Rules for Radicals.

I have huge respect for Saul Alinsky not only for his body of work, but also for his prowess as a writer. His prose feels like they are crackling every page. He had a solid grip on how human minds worked and could put them down on his page beautifully. On the side note, reading his books ironically helped me re-assess my political stance, to be in more middle lane. I was a staunch liberal years ago, forming my opinions based on the color of my flag. Now I understand that everyone, poor or rich, is moved by self-interest. This is neither good nor bad; just the way it is. Saul Alinsky knew that, and articulated it to himself honestly. But that's part of being objective, and another leap towards more power for his cause.

Regardless of where you stand politically, this is a solid book on strategies and power.
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