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Rules for Radicals Paperback – February 12, 1972

3.6 out of 5 stars 800 customer reviews

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Paperback, February 12, 1972
$47.41 $17.12

There is a newer edition of this item:

Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This country's leading hell-raiser...has set down some of the rules of the game. No one has had more experience or has been more successful at it than Alinsky.” —The Nation

“Alinsky's techniques and teachings influenced generations of community and labor organizers, including the church-based group hiring a young [Barack] Obama to work on Chicago's South Side in the 1980s.... Alinsky impressed a young [Hillary] Clinton, who was growing up in Park Ridge at the time Alinsky was the director of the Industrial Areas Foundation in Chicago.” —Chicago Sun-Times

 

“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

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

This primers tells the "have-nots" how they can organize to achieve real political power for the practice of true democracy. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 1, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394717368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394717364
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (800 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By DACHokie TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The purpose for my reading this book was self-educational and an effort to be open-minded about the broad political spectrum that exists today. I found Alinsky's book to be enlightening, thought-provoking, interesting and very relevant. In fact, I strongly feel that "Rules for Radicals" provides a great deal of insight to the current state of political discourse in United States. However, after reading the book, I found myself wondering if Alinsky ever imagined his "radicals" achieving success to the point in which they themselves ultimately become victims of their own methods.

"Rules for Radicals" is essentially a guidebook that encourages individuals to gather, organize and develop a battle-plan to spread a socialist agenda; there is even a list of tactics to be used. Alinsky has conveniently simplified the complex socio-economic landscape of the United States into three groups: The Haves (upper-class), The Have Some, Want More (middle-class) and Have-nots (poor). It is explained that the Haves are the minority that possesses all the wealth/power which is used to ruthlessly exploit the lower classes to enforce their status-quo and maintain their wealth/ power. The Have-Some and Have-nots are basically characterized as being numerically strong, but also mindless and weak ... forced to a life dictated by the Haves. Alinsky then introduces the "community organizer" ... the do-gooder ... the pot-stirrer ... the "social-conscience" ... the one who will fight for those who "can't" or "won't" fight for themselves ... the one who will "take it to" the Haves. Ironically, I found that Alinsky's book provided more explanation of what our current President did prior to being in public office than any media source has ever tried to convey.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a methodical collection of thoughts, actions, and principles from the master 1930s-70s radical, Saul Alinsky, for maximizing opportunities to influence masses of people into rejecting and fighting the status quo. If you share Alinsky's basic and fundamental beliefs, this book is a great 'how-to' for becoming a radical and political activist. If you are opposed to Alinsky's political activism, born out of his negative outlook of and perspectives on our American way of life, this book can help you understand the methods and the 'madness' of those people and forces that disrupt and try to tear down our traditional societal norms.

This book was not an easy read for I disagreed strongly with what he said about my country that I love and his general outlook on life. Alinsky used the following terms interchangeably: "activist," "radical," "organizer," "agitator,"
"revolutionary," and "man of action." Another 'word group' used frequently was the many forms and variations of "organize" and "organizer" - some 356 times in 196 pages. I found his approach to change and reform crafty, cunning, deceitful, insidious, and disingenuous. His methods are masterfully designed to take advantage of our imperfect systems, and human weaknesses and tendencies. Another disturbing aspect of the book was the predominance of militaristic language when discussing the 'how' and 'why' of his logic: war, battle, attack, tactics, enemy, and strategy.

Alinsky was smart and well-read, but I believe he chose to put his intellect and energies to use for detrimental purposes. He offered many observations and perspectives that differed from my own beliefs and experiences, which was not necessarily a problem, but coming after his "acknowledgment to...
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I was curious about this book, as it was the handbook for President Obama's community organizing. Hillary Clinton wrote her thesis on Saul Alinsky. It was a revelation, as all the actions of Obama's presidency are outlined in this book. I can't say I actually liked the book, as I don't agree with Alinsky on anything, but it should be required reading for any who are politically and socially attuned. Alinsky is far to the left, but the book is well written. It is a handbook for revolution.
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This review only deals with the internal consistency and predictive power of the book and NOT any present day political issues.

It seems that the book has three philosophical underpinnings:

1. In the absence of some outside force, people would be equal in every way. There would be no haves and no have nots.
2. Conflict is always and everywhere a good thing because revolutions will always lead to a better outcome.
3. There was to be (at the time of the writing of this book--1971) an imminent revolution in the United States, which the author hoped to foment.

The book falls apart because future events would demonstrate that:

1. People are not equal (the human genome had yet to be sequenced) and you cannot legislate them to be that way.
2. No, revolutions don't always lead to good outcomes. It is interesting that during the years that this book was being written and even after its publication that the Chinese Cultural Revolution was an ongoing concern. Essentially, ten years and tens of millions of lives were wasted for who-knows-what. And even afterward, there are still haves and have not in China (the same way there are everywhere else in the world). There were any other number of historical examples (of revolutions that led to worse outcomes) that the author could have drawn on, but didn't. Sometimes the status quo is just fine.
3. The Vietnam war came and finished and life went on.

The lines of reasoning and assertions in the book led to empirically false conclusions.

What did the book try to be?

1. He tried to be something of a handbook (for people who have too much spare time on their hands--college students, etc) on how to be revolutionary.
2. He tried to be an Eric Hoffer.
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