Dr. Gene Sharp was born 21 January 1928 and wrote this book already in 1973. Sharp became world's foremost expert on Non Violent Action (NVA). His work slipped across borders and was searched for by secret policemen all over the world. Many autocrats don't like him because of his books, which are translated in many languages. His work still plays an important role in about every revolt or revolution. Even the "2011 Arab Spring" revolts. Sharp was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, but Barack Obama received it.
This book - "part 1" of a series of three - is dealing about the theory of nonviolent action, part 2 is the cookbook while part 3 is more about tactics. I find part 1 and 3 the most interesting to read. Part 1 is an excellent and essential read and a real eye-opener that makes you understand that NVA is just another means of combat, as is war. NVA is not pacifism. NVA has got all the elements of warfare: "weapons", tactics, strategy, courage, hierarchy, discipline and sacrifice. It just isn't violent. However - after 38 successful years - these book-series might need an upgrade. Modern warfare is not what it used to be in the seventies and so is NVA. These series highlights NVA as a methodology that can be used by the oppressed, however NVA can be used by the oppressor too. Unfortunately these series are not really focusing on NVA techniques and tactics that could be used by the oppressor. In the old days autocrats used simple propaganda like Radio/TV-spots, slogans, billboards and statues of the dictator as means of NVA. Modern propaganda or PSYOPS is much more sophisticated. The role of modern mass media has become much more important since the seventies, so has the power of (International) public opinion. Mass media can be censored (like in North Korea), self-censored (like in Colombia) or manipulated by the authorities (or activists). Modern International mass media can also suffer from inaccuracies because of lack of moneys to investigate properly or the urge to publish ASAP. Disinformation can be used in many smart ways. Think for instance of the state-employed bloggers and commenters that defend the state's policies on Internet forums in China. Mobile phone services including text messaging are often temporarily discontinued by the authorities of the oppressor during demonstrations, trying to sabotage coordination of the activists. Mobile operators are ordered by the same authorities to rat out all demonstrators. All people who visited demonstrations are known to the police by tracing their mobile phone location. They call on these numbers and invite people to come for a "conversation" about the events. This has happened in Iran more than once. Autocrats often try to organize their own (bigger) pro-demonstrations the next day. In countries like Israel video cameras with facial recognition software are used to identify activists during demonstrations and riots. Facebook is helping these authorities by using facial recognition software that puts name tags to all of Facebook's pictures. Intelligence agencies of the oppressor can also sabotage NVAs of the activists in a nonviolent manner. Think of infiltration in activist organizations and manipulation of activists.
Never the less modern mass media can also largely facilitate the oppressed in their NVAs, co-ordinations and organization. Think of blogs, tweets, social networks, text messaging, encrypted Skype conversations, movies and pictures made and published by the populace and so on. Authorities try to prevent this by identifying and tracing the activists on the Internet and censoring the Internet.
If you feel attracted by the idea of non-violent action, visit the website of The Albert Einstein Institution (aeinstein.org), founded in 1983 by Dr. Gene Sharp. You can download many free publications about the subject in many languages.