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Civil Disobedience: And Other Political Writings

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  13,417 Ratings  ·  219 Reviews
Large Format for easy reading. Originally published under the title Resistance to Civil Government, the book advocates civil liberties and expresses Thoreau's dislike for the establishment, his disdain for slavery, the Mexican-American War and voting and his desire for a utopia on earth.
Paperback, 54 pages
Published October 7th 2009 by Createspace (first published 1995)
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Jan 31, 2017 Manny marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Last time I reviewed this book, my review was rapidly deleted and I received a mail explaining that "if I continued to post content like this, my account might come under review for removal". Okay, let's see what happens this time round. Like millions of people round the world, I am appalled at what Trump, Bannon and the rest of their team have done in the eleven days since Trump became President of the United States. This is clearly no more than the beginning. I want to oppose them. But what ca ...more
Alex Farrand
Feb 14, 2017 Alex Farrand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will try to keep this short as possible, because I am still pondering over his writing. Before I forget, something must be said.

My lovely husband, who doesn't enjoy reading, only recommended two books to me, which are 1984, and this one. I read 1984, but I shrugged this one off. I didn't think it looked very appealing. After the recommendation, Henry David Thoreau kept popping up. While reading I am Martin Luther King Jr , a children's book, to my daughter his worked was mentioned to have inf
Richard Derus
Oct 15, 2013 Richard Derus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

My censored review of this classic call to arms can now be seen at my personal blog.

It is a shame that this kind of thought-policing is okay with so many people. "I don't want to think about it" is a fast way not to have permission to think. At all.

But I suppose that's okay with a lot of people.


Opening: [1849, original title: Resistance to Civil Goverment]

I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe—"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually,
Oct 10, 2016 Liam rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not too sure what I just read but it did have the occasional interesting point I guess...
Jan 31, 2011 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written for days past, written for today. Thoreau's discontent with the government is a present issue around the world... And it should be here. So many of our legislators, as in Thoreau's time, are not skilled at legislation and are so disconnected from the people and our needs. I think the title of the mini-book leads some to believe that Thoreau is completely anti-government - not true. He says time and again that a government that is worthy of his respect is one that he will live under. He a ...more
Mar 28, 2017 Belén rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: filosofia
 I please myself with imagining a State at least which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow-men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State ...more
Luis Reséndiz
Jan 04, 2015 Luis Reséndiz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canasta-básica
no que haya una sola cosa que yo pueda opinar sobre desobediencia civil que pueda mover a alguien a leerlo, así que mejor una cita:

"la meta de un buen gobierno es darle más valor a la vida; la de un mal gobierno, restarle valor."
Mar 10, 2012 Jonathon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anti-system and other delusional ideas that will never happen.....just shut up and get a job you 30 year old teenager...

Civil disobedience was a quick read and to the point (much like my sex life). Henry David Thoreau states when the majority rules, in the case of democracy, rarely is the majority just. Democracy relies on physical strength in numbers, rather than what is just. He pretty much brings to question the next step beyond democracy as a political system. Which he envisions is the enlig
He has some wonderful essays, although it must be remembered that he had few personal responsibilities & no family to support. He was too self-centered for a wife & children. I believe he is sincere, if impractical. I think he draws the lines rather tight for the real world some times, but maybe it is that attitude that allowed things to go so wrong since his day...

I've seen him labeled an Anarchist, but I believe he was a Libertarian. He wanted a better government that needed to govern
Aug 12, 2016 Cari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because Goodreads is apparently cutting off my review, here is the rest of it:

Okay, so it took me 15 days to read a 90 page book but it's Fine.

The first of the essays included in this book is Civil Disobedience, which is of course one of Thoreau's most famous works. It was interesting but not really what I thought it was going to be. I get that the reason it is heralded is what he was discussing specifically in the text has wider applications but I was expecting something a bit broader I guess
Santiago Soria
Feb 18, 2017 Santiago Soria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It teaches us to appreciate life and nature.
Aug 28, 2011 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inspiring
I am a huge fan of Henry David Thoreau. I found Walden inspirational, and Civil Disobedience is a similar, thoughtful work. However, though the ideals are as clearly presented as any essay one could read today, the concepts inherent in this work are not even remotely possible. It struck me as almost amusing that Thoreau would have gladly gone to jail for his principles, but jail, and indeed all of institutions of the United States of America, would be unrecognizable in its present state to our f ...more
Apr 01, 2016 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoreau is a crank and a grouch and a scold, of course. But there is often more than a glimmer of truth in his diatribes.
Above all, we cannot afford not to live in the present. He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life in remembering the past. Unless our philosophy hears the cock crow in every barn-yard within our horizon, it is belated. That sound commonly reminds us that we are growing rusty and antique in our employments and habits of thought. His philosophy come
Schuyler Lystad
Jul 09, 2012 Schuyler Lystad rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I really was interested to read this, but he comes off as a self-important ass. Either he knew very little about his world, or his ideas do not hold up to the test of time at all - each page is easy to disprove, and his ideas on liberty are dangerously myopic, possibly contradictory - he wants everything from government but refuses to give it anything (and I don't mean money). I would be surprised if anyone besides Libertarians who have a thought out position in politics could find this wor ...more
Jan 10, 2015 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I only read the Civil Disobedience essay. I'm having trouble thinking of anything to say other than "What an insufferable prat Thoreau must have been." A long-winded essay in which he (correctly) finds fault with a government that supports slavery and the Mexican American War, and explains that the only possible solution is to not pay your taxes.
Nick Black
Despicable. Insipid. Nauseating. I could go on like this for a minute, but doubt you really need me to. Reading this at 15 set me up for a lifetime of not ever wanting to sound like Henry David Thoreau.
Jan 31, 2015 Fredr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting thoughts beginning with first sentence "That government is best which governs least" from John L O'Sullivan. It is thought provoking of the injustices that governments condone and how as individuals should handle issues. First printed in 1849.
Nov 22, 2009 Kyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Shelves: politics
I love the essay Civil Disobedience. This is probably the 10th time I've read it, and I still always learn something new from it that I didn't quite grasp before.
Jill Nelson
Sep 13, 2013 Jill Nelson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love Thoreau, whether he's talking about nature or politics. Yay transcendentalism!
Građanski neposluh
Apr 30, 2013 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On "Resistance to Civil Government:
During the summer of 2010 I lived in Concord, Massachusetts - the home of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the Alcott family. I went there for the town's history which began approximately 100 years before these transcendentalists existed and had hardly studied any of them, their movement, or its implications. I lived a mile from Walden Pond and had never read Thoreau's adventures there, a few blocks from the homes of everyone e
May 24, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant! While I don’t agree with every thought of Thoreau’s (an original Libertarian?), how grand it is to read from someone who has a real thought! Every sentence could stand as an individual idea, a great quote. Each lecture is beautifully constructed and well argued.

He does seem, at times, slightly smug, but in the topics I found most convincing, I would rather call his smugness “righteous indignation.” Most telling, though, is the fact that his arguments are germane today.

As I read, I co
Nov 13, 2016 Christine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, This guy was pretty mad about paying taxes, but wanted all the benefits of citizenship. I know this small little book is supposed to be a big deal, but it sounded like the ramblings of a misanthrope who felt entitled to do what ever he wanted without any repercussions. Also he had a severe lack of social awareness and due to his lack of understanding accused other of being not hardcore abolitionists or just plain dumb. He seemed a bit extreme and narrow minded.
Feb 07, 2017 Jeannien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Apr 06, 2012 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The real hits here are "Walking," "Autumnal Tints," "Night and Moonlight," "Life Without Principle," "A Plea for Captain John Brown," and of course "Civil Disobedience." The rest of it is fine, but that batch of essays I found truly memorable (also available to read without wading through superfluous content at, which I only discovered recently). I had previously read Walking and Wild Apples, which I have reviewed more thoroughly below.


Reading Thoreau after reading Maril
Michael Rhode
Aug 18, 2013 Michael Rhode rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From Slavery in Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau

"They who have been bred in the school of politics fail now and always to face the facts. Their measures are half measures and make-shifts, merely. They put off the day of settlement indefinitely, and meanwhile, the debt accumulates." - reminds me of present-day Congress.

"I would remind my countrymen, that they are to be men first, and Americans only at a late and convenient hour." - I believe him to mean that we should draw our identity from who
Chelsea Merkley
Apr 14, 2012 Chelsea Merkley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely love everything about this Book. I am listening of course, but, Henry David Thoreau is so succinct with his points of the individual liberties and rights of individuals. He really gets me thinking about how the government is just a group of people who make laws and seem to judge ethics and morality. But, are really not the angels of light, but servants of the devil oftentimes. He speaks about our rights and liberties not as our nation or country gives us, but the liberties are from ...more
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  • Self-Reliance and Other Essays
  • Letter from the Birmingham Jail
  • Proposed Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism and Syndicalism
  • Rights of Man
  • Two Treatises of Government
  • Essays: Moral, Political and Literary
  • Selected Philosophical Writings
  • On Anarchism
  • The Basic Political Writings
  • What Is Property?
  • Our Enemy, the State
  • The Conquest of Bread
  • Democracy in America
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The Subjection of Women
Henry David Thoreau (born David Henry Thoreau) was an American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic, philosopher, and abolitionist who is best known for Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.

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“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things..” 1921 likes
“If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth--certainly the machine will wear out… but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.” 171 likes
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