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4.5 out of 5 stars17
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VINE VOICEon 22 March 2011
This book brings down governments

I remember that Woody Guthrie had written on his guitar "This machine kills fascists" Perhaps this book should have the sign This brook brings down dictators.

I have to confess that I was completely ignorant of this book/booklet until I read a couple of articles about it in the press. I am surprised that I had not come across it before as I am an avid reader of books on insurgency and counter insurgency..
This is of course not a military book so that is maybe why I missed it even though it has been around since 1993.

The articles claimed that his works which were originally written for the Burmese has been copied and read by other groups around the world. As a result he is touted as being the person who created the wherewithal for the various freedom groups to take on the dictatorships in the Middle East and North Africa. As a result just this year Tunisia has fallen to a fairly peaceful revolutiion Egypt happened quickly and had a few casualties and as I write the coalition is attacking Gaddaffi in Libya.
There are rumblings in Yemen , Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. If what they say it true this is a very powerful book indeed. The Iranian government has denounced him as a CIA agent. I would like to write something half as powerful . It is interesting that these dictatorships seems to be more afraid of words rather than military power.

The book is 93 pages long and the first 78 pages is a discussion of his theories, The most important is his theory that violence doesn't work.

In a way he is right as you cannot take on the dictatorship upon their own terms. They have military force and that is a way they maintain their power.

In the past Che Guevara and Mao would advocate military force which might work against weak regimes but not against hard line ones.

He covers the dangers of negotiation which is another way that freedom fighters think they are going to take on the dictatorship. How can you negotiate effectively with a regime that has all the cards.

You have to attack the dictatorship at its weak points which you do through non violent struggle.

The nub of the book is the list of 198 methods of non violent protest and persuasion.

It is a like a book on non violent marketing methods.

A must read for both real and armchair revolutionaries
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on 11 April 2012
When I came across this book and this fundamental non-violent strategy on current tv I was suddenly swept away by firstly the idea of one little book causing all this commotion and secondly that I really wanted to purchase it.

Firstly this book requires little knowledge of terminology as the author gene sharp explains each little term, strategy and tactic thoroughly with examples given, so you need not worry about thinking it is an really complex guidebook for disintegrating injustice.

Secondly I will not mention much about the content of the book much as I would be ruining the readers fun for them, however do keep this in mind, the tactics listed here are not purely for fighting big governments these tactics can be used in given situations against most forms of injustice, as evident within the civil rights movement and I personally use such tactics with university lecturers (but that's a rant fir a different time).

I leave you with this, this book is worth it if your willing to put in the work, it will change your outlook in life and how to approach certain situations, thus giving you knowledge. I was lucky enough to have contact and the Albert einstein institute of gene sharp and have my personal comments passed onto, that shows the impact of this book upon me.
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on 31 March 2012
In this short book, Gene Sharp compiles what is obviously a lifetime's worth of work into a workable and accessible text. It isn't, as has been touted, a guide to dismantling dictatorships; in fact, it often reads quite coldly, which is common for texts of political science. But what it does do is offer a range of tried and tested methods of straining the legitimacy of a regime; indeed, there is no reason it can't be used to dismantle democracies.

However, what I think it fails to do is elucidate the various obstacles in achieving the strategies: for example, achieving mass non-violent actions like sit-ins or walk-outs. But how does an activist in a brutal totalitarian state - say that of Nazi Germany - stimulate mass resistance? Nevertheless I still rate it 5-stars because I don't think Gene Sharp set out to answer that difficult question, which is the subject of many long and dusty books.

For anyone wishing to have an insight into the methods used by the recent revolts, or revolts throughout history; any student of politics; activist; or an official of a corrupt government wanting to know what challenges lie ahead of him, then this book is a brief but quite full option.
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on 8 September 2012
Knowing this book has been used as a sort of guidelines to among other political take-overs such as The Arab Spring, I read this book with great interest. It can be read as a wise introduction to thinking differently of the consequences of non.violent dissent.I wish it were more widely spread as there still are some countries in the world which could use this powerful message to have their dictatorships overthrown.
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on 3 May 2013
This isn't for the faint-hearted or dilletante history students. This is for mature-minded individuals capable of actualy thinking for themselves. If you believed (or still do) that USA or UK should have had anything to do with invading Iraq then don't waste your money or try to tax your brain too much...

Is this book about dissidents or 'by' dissidents?

Well dissidents by definition expouse a view other than the 'norm'. If you want the 'norm' then just listen to the BBC or CNN.
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on 12 July 2012
I picked this up on the strength of a recommendation from another book, the title of which currently escapes me. Anyway, this is, supposedly, a bible of sorts for peaceful revolution. I agree with the sentiment, it certainly paints a clear roadmap of how to oppose, organise and overthrow oppression (sorry for all that alliteration). It is short, well written and clear. The format is well organised so it is quite easy to dip back into the book to read on relevant issues as they arise in the world. I read it as the Syrian crisis begun to get into full swing, and the book seemed quite prescient in its suppositions about what can go wrong with armed resistance.

As an addition to my review, I have to state I believe that the methods the author asks us to apply to non-violent opposition would work just as well in a "democratic" situation, where a government rules without sufficient mandate, and not in the publics best interests - they have been warned...
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on 6 December 2012
This sounds a lot like a book written by an expert who made it accessible to non-experts, the ideas are realistic and strategic, empirical, there is no speculation, just statements of ways that have worked and why. An entertaining read and rings a lot of bells thinking of the Arab spring, although he says to avoid violent conflict at all cost, it turns the movement into one where the dictator always has the advantage.
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on 28 July 2014
This book is so so so brilliant - Only God knows why I hadn't read it earlier. Have even ordered copies for friends! An excellent book.
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on 24 November 2015
Amazing, insightful, and refreshingly blunt about the importance of non-cooperation. This is a book needed now more than ever.
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on 20 January 2014
This was a purchase for a friend who had heard the title mentioned on a TV documentary. He was pleased with the purchase.
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