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Small Acts of Resistance: How Courage, Tenacity, and Ingenuity Can Change the World Hardcover – October 5, 2010
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At its simplest this is a series of uplifting accounts of the sheer power of the human spirit to overwhelm man’s inhumanity to man. But it is also a highly readable voyage through a century of struggle across the world.”Jon Snow, anchor, Channel 4 News UK
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The book itself is largely a collection of anecdotes. It does describe instances in which people sought to express themselves as others sought to silence such expression. Thus, it does deliver somewhat upon its initial promise.
Yet, the expectations of many of Small Acts may be set fairly high. They may expect the work to discuss the many questions surrounding such acts of resistance. For example, how did the authors of an act select the action which they chose? Were other acts considered but not selected? Were they cowed by possible consequences? Were they found out and punished? In hindsight, did they think the act was successful, what would they change, would they do it again? Most of the time, such questions are not asked and answered. This lack of depth detracts from the work for some readers such as this reviewer.
Another type of detractor exists as well. In the case of the discussion of Guantanamo, the authors expose, correctly in this reviewer's opinion, the role of political figures in various Guantanamo-related decisions. Such exposure is not central to the work, but certainly has relevance. Shortly after the discussion of Guantanamo, the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2 is raised. Yet in this example, the role of President Roosevelt is completely absent. No mention is made of the president, his staff, his party affiliation, or his executive order which established the internment. Thus the book seems to fall victim to a form of political bias. This weakness is unfortunate and left the reviewer, and perhaps other readers, wondering if the ideological or even partisan sentiments of the authors played larger roles within the work.
Perhaps this reviewer had unrealistically high expectations for Small Acts. Others may observe that the forward was penned by Vaclav Havel and place similarly high expectations on the work. Yet while this reviewer found the work to be entertaining and inspiring to a degree, overall the work seemed to fall short of its promise.