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Working and Thinking on the Waterfront Paperback – 4 Aug 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews from the U.S.

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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Working and Thinking on the Waterfront 1 Feb. 2010
By Jacqueline Chesler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I must have read all eight or nine books by Eric Hofer within three weeks. I am so glad to have re discovered him again. Thanks Amazon
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When life is getting me down... 15 Aug. 2008
By J. A. Eyon - Published on Amazon.com
...Eric Hoffer's WORKING AND THINKING ON THE WATERFRONT is the book that can comfort me by putting my life in perspective and helping me to accept things as they are. It's Eric Hoffer's little diary which illuminates his modest lifestyle as a longshoreman in San Francisco.

It wasn't intended as a daily diary. Nor to be published. He kept it for almost exactly 1 year (from June 1958 to May 1959) in order to record his thoughts as he worked out the topic he wanted to write a book about. (The topic that emerged was 'change' so it's probably not coincidental that his next two books following the writing of the diary dealt with change -- THE ORDEAL OF CHANGE and THE TEMPER OF OUR TIME)

Yet the diary mostly comprises brief entries about mundane aspects of his life -- the boats he longshored on -- the men he worked with -- the books he read -- his close friends Seldon and Lily and their little son who was named after him -- his personal decision-making on minor aspects of his life -- as well as the expected observations on the world's sociological scene.

Now we can see how this self-educated man with an insatiable appetite for reading can find himself on par with the intellectuals he disdained. He could draw from a body of knowledge as vast as the planet and as deep as its history. And with his special facility with the language, he gained a level of reputation that many of those he challenged could only envy.

Hoffer's books possess a rich, precise prose and this one is no exception even tho it's only a diary. Due to its simplicity of form -- and due to the simplicity of the life it depicts -- it can be inspiring in a way that eastern mystics try to be -- except this is based on a refreshingly grounded life and outlook.

(Hoffer legacy will no doubt be THE TRUE BELIEVER: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.)
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable general reflections A personal element missing 6 April 2009
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
It is ironic that Eric Hoffer found his voice and personal inspiration through the reading of Montaigne, and yet when he adopts here a form particularly appropriate to the personal reflection shys away from it. This Journal has its value in that it shows Hoffer working out his general ideas, ideas regarding the place of the Masses in history, the unique character of American democracy in extending equality to the working masses. It sketches out ideas regarding the meaning of Democracy and Totalitarianism which pervade his most significant works. But it touches on the personal in a tangential way only. Hoffer has befriended a married woman Lily and her young son. He describes his meetings with them but never in a deep or complex way. We do not understand exactly what the friendship is. Nor do we get Hoffer's reflections on his own personal situation as loner, on his family background and history. As a writer who by the time he wrote this journal was a public figure he should I believe gone more towards answering his readers' curiosity.
Hoffer also in my opinion is too general in his overall attack on Intellectuals. Clearly he was prescient in seeing how in the American world a whole class of university people would arise who would have no appreciation for American society and its freedoms. But he goes too far in making Intellectual an absolute an all- inclusive category. There are many great American intellectuals in this century alone who too stood for human freedom and dignity with great courage. I think of people like the late William F. Buckley Jr. and courageous opponents of the academic totalitarians as David Horowitz and Alan Dershowitz today.
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