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A book that must be read. It is scholarly, readable and highly relevant at a time when so many people are challenging the dictatorships under which they live. With his long historical understanding he offers really useful advice to people who are engaged on the same task today (Tony Benn)
Sharp's contribution to the struggle for non-violence protest in the Arab world has been immense. After many years of persistent effort he has been fully vindicated. (Raja Shehadeh)
"'Gene Sharp has written a book that must be read. It is scholarly, readable and highly relevant at a time when so many people are challenging the dictatorships under which they live. With his long historical understanding he offers really useful advice to people who are engaged on the same task today' (Tony Benn)"
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 dr.sharp, that shows the impact of this book upon me.
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.
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
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.