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Civil Disobedience: And Other Political Writings

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  12,406 ratings  ·  221 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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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways

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.
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
I would love to have met this man in person. What a brilliant wit and iron nerve to say what he did, when he did, and how he did, to whom he did. For the contemporary patriot who doesn't quite know where he stands, this work will test his devotion, and force an analysis of his political thinking.
Jacq Jardin
I didn't think I would enjoy reading this. I did, though, and I'm sure glad I picked it up. Written in a very articulate manner, the paper is enjoyable, convincing, inspiring and stimulating all at once. Thoreau's strong moral convictions and high respect for the individual are evident in each line. Some of my favorites are:

"Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison."

"The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to
I wonder what Thoreau would think of the Tea Party.

Thoreau rejects government of most types and fails to pay taxes as a protest mainly against slavery and the Mexican War (from what I gather), which indeed are noble reasons to reject supporting a compulsory tax. If more people had been like Thoreau, slavery would have been abolished decades earlier than it was. That being said, I think Thoreau would have disdained the Tea Party movement since it seems to only be about angry people vaguely compla
(This is a long post which can also be found here:

I had meant to read up on Thoreau for quite some time now, and took the opportunity yesterday to read the Project Gutenberg text of Civil Disobedience on my Kindle. I found the essay well-conceived, enjoyable, and dripping with an arrogance that only comes with a supreme confidence in one’s intellect, moral standing, and social status. That said, while I was impressed by Thoreau’s well-articulated respect
Ex Libris
A thought provoking book that invokes the paradox of American political history and it's long preoccupation with the triad of freedom/slavery/taxation and an interesting read in the time of the Tea Party.
On the one hand, Thoreau has clearly identified two of the great evils of American political history, slavery and, here in the guise of the Mexican American War, expansionist warfare. His desire to sever himself from any complicity in these wrongs is laudable, as is his willingness to seek out d
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
Jan 21, 2013 Rowena marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
Mentioned in Dr. King's autobiography
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
Interesting to revisit this brief volume 40 years after first reading it. When I read Thoreau as a college student, I loved him uncritically in the way many of my anti-Vietnam war comrades did.

Re-reading in the Tea Party era was quite a different experience, somewhat akin to watching "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" a few years back and realizing it really was not the hilarious movie I thought it was when I was a kid.

At this point, Thoreau probably would appeal more to Glen Beck than he does to m
Luis Reséndiz
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."
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.
Građanski neposluh
Rishiyur Nikhil
Classics of course, but not easy reads, in part because of Thoreau's diction and phrasings which are not that easy to parse (at least today; perhaps it reflects the language of his time).


Essay: "Civil Disobedience" (1849)

Grew out of Thoreau's objection to the Mexican War (1846-48) which he saw as a manufactured war hijacking the resources of the public state to serve the interests of a few. He saw the news from the front as full of deceitful propaganda about who was the agressor and who was
Hamid Qureshi
Haven't had the chance to read all of the gathered essay's but as the title of the book Civil Disobedience is an essay which i have had the pleasure of reading i feel i am qualified, if but marginally, to voice an opinion regarding it.
Brilliant take on consciousness and morality and how the reality of the two relate to the State during his time. Is morality in what the majority of people choose is moral. what if the options are manipulated and immorality is disguised for morality? He also makes
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
Aaron Gallardo
No son muchas las veces en que se lee algo tan sublime. Thoreau -más que una crítica aguda a la sociedad americana, cosa que por cierto hace, aunque quizá de una forma muy intuitiva- ha escrito un decálogo del hombre 'puro', verbigracia un individuo que será difícil de describir: con norte, liberal, atemporal, en armonía con la naturaleza, consciente. Una vida sin principios, el primer ensayo (y el mejor, por mucho), es quintaesencialmente Thoreau; todos los demás, que tratan la esclavitud y de ...more
O que nos leva hoje em dia a ler Thoreau?
Uns lerão instigados pela curiosidade em saber porque razão líderes de movimentos pacifistas como Martin Luther King e Ghandi reconheciam à obra e pensamento de Thoreau uma posição tão imprescindível e influente na própria mensagem que procuravam transmitir.
Outros fá-lo-ão no seguimento do filme aclamado pela crítica "Into the wild" cujo protagonista ensaia um regresso à natureza - onde tudo é mais puro e mais autêntico - e que na jornada que o leva ao co
Reading the first essay, "Civil Disobedience" made me feel ashamed for every time I've compromised, or avoided conflict, or said something just to fit in or get along. Thoreau not only is against that, but pretty much berates everyone who does that. On the question of slavery before the Civil War, we'd all like to think we would have been strongly against it, but being anti-slavery wasn't popular and was definitely a minority opinion in some places.

Thoreau is an engaging writer, and his passion
Thoreau is always amazing in his profundity, his wit and humor, and his deep sincerity. This collection includes Thoreau's more political essays, related to American slavery and the ways in which we enslave ourselves to connection and conformity in our everyday life - these essays are every bit as relevant as they were the day they were written. While Thoreau's high-mindedness can at times come across as condescending to readers, but he held himself no less to his idealist standards, and if read ...more
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.
Alexis Medina
Short but thought provoking essay. I believe this book can be summarized with this quote:

"There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly"

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.
Nov 22, 2009 Kyle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
"El Estado nunca se enfrenta voluntariamente con la conciencia intelectual o moral de un hombre sino con su cuerpo, con sus sentidos. No se arma de honradez o de inteligencia, sino que recurre a la simple fuerza física.

Yo no he nacido para ser violentado. Seguiré mi propio camino. Veremos quién es más fuerte. ¿Qué fuerza tiene la multitud? Solo pueden obligarme aquellos que obedecen alguna ley superior a la mía. Me obligan a ser como ellos. Yo no oigo que a los hombres les obliguen a vivir de ta
I read "Walden" years ago, and I wanted this essay collection to read "Walking," but I also got the classic "Civil Disobedience" and other of his more political writing.

Although it took some time for me to slip into the language of 19th century America, I thought these essays had as much relevancy today as they did at the time of their writing. His criticism of the media and their support of politicians was spot on with what many people complain about Fox News and their ilk these days (though sa
Jill Nelson
Love Thoreau, whether he's talking about nature or politics. Yay transcendentalism!
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  • Self-Reliance and Other Essays
  • Proposed Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism and Syndicalism
  • Letter from the Birmingham Jail
  • Two Treatises of Government
  • Selected Philosophical Writings
  • The Subjection of Women
  • Common Sense
  • Democracy in America
  • On Anarchism
  • The Basic Political Writings
  • Essays: Moral, Political and Literary
  • Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking
  • Mutual Aid
  • Scepticism and Animal Faith
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.

Thoreau's books,
More about Henry David Thoreau...
Walden Walden & Civil Disobedience Walking Walden and Other Writings A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers/Walden/The Maine Woods/Cape Cod

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