True Believer, The (Perennial Classics) Paperback – 19 Jan 2010
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From the Back Cover
A stevedore on the San Francisco docks in the 1940s, Eric Hoffer wrote philosophical treatises in his spare time while living in the railroad yards. The True Believer -- the first and most famous of his books -- was made into a bestseller when President Eisenhower cited it during one of the earliest television press conferences.Completely relevant and essential for understanding the world today, The True Believer is a visionary, highly provocative look into the mind of the fanatic and a penetrating study of how an individual becomes one.
About the Author
Eric Hoffer (1902 -- 1983) was self-educated. He worked in restaurants, as a migrant fieldworker, and as a gold prospector. After Pearl Harbor, he worked as a longshoreman in San Francisco for twenty-five years. The author of more than ten books, including The Passionate State of Mind, The Ordeal of Change, and The Temper of Our Time, Eric Hoffer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983.
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Hoffer is very even-handed in his discussion, drawing examples from the Nazi party, the French Revolution, postwar Palestine, Stalinist Russia, the Crusades and Imperial Japan. No period or aspect of life is left unexamined as he walks through the rise of the mass movement, who is motivated to join them and why, and how each religious, political and revolutionary current transitions through various stages, changing its rhetoric, members and even its aims in the pursuit of-what? Something which they all have in common but claim is unique only to their own race of believers.
You could page through it and find multiple parallels with his time and our own, from Nazi Germany to North Korea, and radical Islam to the radical right. Like any good work of history, this shows the reader how parts of the modern world came about and persist today, and how we might be ( or how we have been) led to follow a strange banner and become a True Believer ourselves.
For Hoffer, there are two kinds of people - those who stand on their own two feet and those who want to distance themselves from themselves and their feeling of inadequacy or lack of meaning and attach themselves to movements - religion, ideology, or any group where they can derive meaning.
But worthwhile and enlightening. Reccomended as a read by Martin Wolfe-the F T columnist.A good reccomendation.