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Rules for Radicals (Vintage) [Paperback]

Saul D. Alinsky
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

18 July 2013 Vintage
This primers tells the "have-nots" how they can organize to achieve real political power for the practice of true democracy.

Product details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; Vintage Books ed edition (18 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679721134
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679721130
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.1 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Saul Alinsky was born in Chicago in 1909 and educated first in the streets of that city and then in its university. Graduate work at the University of Chicago in criminology introduced him to the Al Capone gang, and later to Joliet State Prison, where he studied prison life. He founded what is known today as the Alinsky ideology and Alinsky concepts of mass organization for power. His work in organizing the poor to fight for their rights as citizens has been internationally recognized. In the late 1930s he organized the Back of the Yards area in Chicago (the neighborhood made famous in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle). Subsequently, through the Industrial Areas Foundation which he began in 1940, Mr. Alinsky and his staff helped to organize communities not only in Chicago but throughout the country. He later turned his attentions to the middle class, creating a training institute for organizers. He died in 1972.

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WHAT FOLLOWS IS for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book is a real firecracker! Although this was written in 1971, Alinsky has written a book which is still deeply relevant and inspirational in this day and age.
The main thrust of the book is to provide a framework and some basic rules for 'radicals' to achieve social justice within American democratic structures. The aim is to spread wealth and equality more evenly throughout society, Alinsky very much saw himself on the side of the 'have-nots' or the 'have-a-little-want-a-little-mores' in order to ensure that the 'haves' gave them a better deal.
The book is certainly not without its own theories of how to effect real and lasting change, but more importantly provides examples of work that Alinsky was involved in which utilised his methods of community development. Whilst it is true to say that Alinsky perhaps 'talked up' the changes that he achieved, there are still a number of excellent examples of the methods he used to make local government sit up and listen to what local groups were demanding. Alinsky believed very much in the power of humour and laughter as tactical weapons that people could use in order to achieve their ends, as he himself said, "If you have power, then parade it so your enemy can see it, if you have numbers, but no power then make a noise so that your enemy can hear you, if you have no power and no numbers...then make a stink"
Bearing in mind the results of the 2001 election and the fact that 64% of 18-25 year olds decided not to vote there is clearly a need to bring politics ' back home' and make it something that people feel passionate about...This book just might give a few pointers of where to start...
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great 15 April 2013
Bought as a text for my Uni course - very inspiring. Not deep but useful and thought-provoking - highly recommend for anyone interested in community action.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Logic 16 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book treats people as 'useful idiots' which was a term coined by Lenin to describe the masses as people you can use to further your ends so long as you don't tell them what your real intentions are. Ostensibly it is in favour of justice and describes how to bring down the rich and empower the poor. It is really the communist agenda which promised a lot and delivered little. People seem to be convinced by slogans like everyone under communism is guaranteed a job. The reality was that people in the West were always better of than their communist counterparts whereas under communism it was the commissars who had their expensive Dachas on the Black sea while the proletariat lived in poverty. The record of communism is clear and unequivocal. It is unfortunate that it is still advanced by intelligent people in the West. You get an insight into Alinsky's thinking at the beginning where he praises the first radical - satan
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11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A throwback from long ago, but somewhat curious 30 Aug 1999
By A Customer
I'd say it's a throwback from 60s (if not 40s.) The book is full of terminology and general attitude, that I found rather annoying. Is it leftist? Hmmm .... not really, just annoying. Bad, platitudinous humour, although the good thing is there's not much of it. Very deficient logic all over the place. Many connexions seem missing--I contstantly catch myself thinking, "and how did you get there from here?" No answer. There are some good thoughts though, and also historical data (especially on "non-violence" of people like Gandhi and Nehru.) I didn't know of these and found it all enlightening (although you will probably dislike the lessons that Mr Alinsky suggests can be learnt from these facts.) I'll probably read a couple of books that are quoted in this one, which makes reading this book already worth it. Finally, whether you like it or not, it's not a big book, so I'd say peruse it. Parts of it may be useful. At the same time, I don't share the overflowing enthousiasm of the other reviewers here.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Radicals make their own rules... 11 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Alinsky was a radical in every sense of the word - activist, rabble-rouser and would-be world-changer. I loved the way this book provided a window into the whirling mind of such a person. Intelligent, intense and incisive the reflections offered in these pages distill a lifetime of tenacious fighting for the empowerment of the downtrodden. Notorious incidents are retold and their lessons conveyed in such a way that they can be easily picked up and recast into today's ongoing struggles against poverty and injustice. My bookshelf feels a rather more dangerous with Alinsky on display ;-)
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smashing the status quo! 30 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Mr. Alinsky captures the outrage organizers have with the status quo. 'Why organize?' is the central question that permeates throughout this book, and Mr. Alinsky answers this question with a scathing attack on the powers that be, who are beholden to maintaining the status quo. Mr. Alinsky allows the reader to not just dream of a better America but doles out powerful, practical methods to either; A. work within the current system to effect positive change, or B. bring the system to its knees in the quest toward positive change. An absolute must read for anyone wishing to take on the status quo of poverty, injustice, hatred, and discrimination.
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