Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Civil Disobedience” as Want to Read:
Civil Disobedience
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview
Read Book* *Different edition

Civil Disobedience

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  3,865 ratings  ·  168 reviews
Originally published in 1849 as "Resistance to Civil Government," Thoreau's classic essay on resistance to the laws and acts of government that he considered unjust was largely ignored until the Twentieth Century when Mohandas Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and anti-Vietnam War activists applied Thoreau's principles.
Hardcover, 36 pages
Published September 1st 2000 by Applewood Books (first published January 1st 1381)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Well, I'm still pondering what I think about this essay, so I'm not quite sure what I'd like to say about it yet. It is different than what I expected. I always thought of Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" as the work that inspired non-violent protests like 1960s sit-ins and Ghandi's hunger strikes--and it IS an inspiration, but it is not about those types of actions, as far as I can tell.

Thoreau, rather, suggests that people should just withdraw from an unjust government (and this, to Thoreau inc
Riku Sayuj
Was a wonderful experience to read it in parallel with The Prince.
I might have liked this book ten years ago. Now it's just too basic. The ideas represented here seem so obvious, if of course, you believe what Thoreau says is the right way to do things. I don't believe his theory of individual civil disobedience would actually work in today's world.
What is more is that the book is written in such a dry manner that it almost takes all the joy out of reading it.
I'll never understand how this book got so many 5 star reviews.
Sono nato troppo in alto per essere posseduto,
per essere il secondo, al controllo,
o l'utile servo e strumento
di qualsiasi stato sovrano del mondo.

L'idea del potere reale di un Governo è la più grande fandonia messa in atto dall'umanità. Purtroppo Thoreau è un genio ed è quindi destinato ad una visione del mondo troppo complicata per i suoi contemporanei e troppo moderna per la nostra contemporaneità.

Se quest'anno un migliaio di persone non pagassero le tasse non si tratterebbe di un'azione viol
Beatrice Santos
A Desobediência Civil é um manifesto semi-anárquico de alguém que há muito perdeu a fé e a consideração que tinha pelo Estado e o Governo. A aversão é tanta que Thoreau diz que devemos todos combatê-lo numa forma activa, deixando de pagar impostos, mesmo que isso signifique a cadeia, e condena aqueles que, com preocupações como família e estabilidade, se deixam ir numa letargia em relação à justiça.

O autor defende ainda que se for preciso, devemos tomar uma atitude eremita. "Temos de viver so
Martha Sweeney
Needed a break from editing and read Civil Disobedience for the first time. Loved it. It's a key piece of literature that I think everyone should read, not just in America, but all over the world concerning everything that is occurring in governments all across the world.

Peace - Love - Prosperity - Happiness to You and Everyone
Robert Beveridge
Apr 27, 2012 Robert Beveridge rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every American
Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience (CreateSpace, 1849)

I have put off releasing my best reads of 2011 list for all these months because I still haven't quite figured out how to review Civil Disobedience, which is #3 on it. You see, the problem is I've always kind of hated Thoreau, who is widely held responsible for the foundation of the modern ecological movment (I'm a diehard pave-the-earth guy and have been for decades). Because of that, I spent my reading time avoiding the guy, but when I
This essay, none the less, was great. However, I do not see how will the lives of a community work out peacefully when everyone has a range from slightly different to opposite virtues. Someone may say it's possible when people respect each other, but I say different. If we think piratical, people are full of hubris and selfishness. In schools, where respect is a statute, they had to force this concept in to the minds of the students because they knew every one of them did not learn to be respec ...more
Com a devida distância temporal, Thoreau criou as bases para o que hoje em dia, sob diversos aspectos, chamamos de desobediência civil. Não se espere que se encontre neste panfleto um exemplo seguido mais tarde por Gandhi ou Luther King. Thoreau escreveu o manifesto após ter sido preso por não pagamento de um imposto específico. Discorda da agressão dos EUA ao México (estamos em 1848) e, sobretudo, da escravatura vigente em alguns Estados da União.
Fortemente individualista, Thoreau defende uma
While listening to this on audio book, I found myself filtering Thoreau's statements through my own modern political stovepipes...ready to dismiss Thoreau outright as a naive militia Libertarian and/or hype him up as some sort of Uber-Liberal.

This says more of the divisive nature of modern political discourse than to the real, sincere, legitimate points Thoreau laid out in this treatise, really more of a tract, on the role of Government and the individual.

At turns seeming to advocate Libertarian
Dans cet ouvrage, l'auteur fait un plaidoyer passionné de la liberté individuelle, par opposition au pouvoir de l'État. Il établit des hypothèses fortes sur la façon dont l'État serait plus efficace, s'il avait moins de pouvoir sur ses citoyens. Thoreau inaugure la pensée courent "moins de règles, c'est mieux", avec sa sentence "Le gouvernement le meilleur est celui qui gouverne le moins". il développe aussi une forte critique du gouvernement des États-Unis d'Amérique de son temps, en critiquant ...more
For future references:
Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience) is an essay by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849. In it, Thoreau argues that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican–American War.
By: htt
Five stars for the importance of the topic Thoreau discusses; one star because his answer is absurdly wrong (and simplistic).

I know that this is supposed to be a classic, and even Gandhi cited it as inspiration. My opinion is, unfortunately, quite different. Civil Disobedience amounts to a tract in favor of anarchism. Some choice quotes...
That government is best which governs not at all.

[The state's] very Constitution is the evil.

Beyond the high-flying rhetoric, let's look at his more reasoned a
My students and I were talking in class about how Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi were both influenced by Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" essay. The question arose in class as to whether there might be a person alive now that would have a dynamic personality and ability to speak out for racial discrimination beyond the black and white problem. 2 of my students are Hispanic and are constantly looked down upon as if they must be an illegal immigrant because of their accent and the color ...more
Some fairly specious reasoning in here. It is lovely that Thoreau has become a symbol of all that is right with the world, but I am reviewing the text, not him.

The first part of the text is argument, the middle is an account of his night in jail, and the final third is commentary related to his first argument.

The first argument, which he admits in the third part of the text, does not distinguish between material and formal cooperation in evil.

"It is for no particular item in the tax-bill that
Burcin Ozgun
Demokrasinin yönetim alanında gelinebilecek son nokta olmadığını; bugün bildiğim ve algıladığım haliyle Devlet denen illetin bireyi asla ve asla özgür kılamayacağını, tüm vatandaşlarına adil olmayacağını, bireyini asla mutlak güç olarak kabul etmeyeceğini ve yapısını özgürlük üzerine inşa etmeyeceğini, otoriteye boyun eğmeyi kabul etsem dahi asla haklarıma saygı duymayacağını ve tüm bu soylediklerimi ve red çabalarımı yok sayacağını bir kez daha gördüm.

Bu yüzden Thoreau'ya yürekten katılıyorum.
Adrián Sánchez
"Observé que el Estado era ingenioso solo a medias, que era tímido. Como una viuda en medio de su platería, y que no diferenciaba sus amigos de sus enemigos, y así perdí lo que me quedaba de respeto por él y le tuve lástima."
One of the classics of American Philosophy and political science. Thoreau with one essay places himself in the ranks of Tolstoy and the philosophers of the enlightenment. Government is a human fabrication and is given power by the majority, even when they are unethical and inhumane. His argument arises from his unwillingness to pay taxes to the U.S. government which is waging war against Mexico for the purpose of expanding slavery into the SW. He refuses to pay the tax and spends a night in jail ...more
Rachel Jacobs
Thoreau has an easy writing style which is both poetic and readily understood by the common man. He makes several good points which bare reflection. Though it seems Thoreau is not merely advocating resisting an unjust government but government all together.
Yet, he does not advocate anarchy. Thoreau instead, seems to be yearning for a humanity that treats all persons well and equally without the need of government. I agree with Thoreau; this type if existence would be the most free and expedient
Ijaz Ahmad
I suppose for the time it was written it would have been highly influential, however, of the essayists arguments I found the comments regarding accountability of both the citizens of the state and the state itself to be of great pertinence. One such quote which challenges the status quo of democratic legalistic thinking is as follows:

"Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? — in which majorities decide only those questions to whi
Tom Mcguire
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Analysis of Henry David Thoreau’s Resistance to Civil Government

Perhaps it is ironic that one of the most acknowledged American writers tried to separate himself from the government as much as he could. Then again, this could represent the epitome of American society and our ideals. Henry David Thoreau was thrown in prison during his life due to tax delinquency, and heavily criticized American law in his writings. Despite all of this, he was still considered a true American.

During Henry David Th
Molly Sparber
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Courtney Williams
The book: Civil Disobedience

The author: Henry David Thoreau, American author, poet, philosopher, polymath, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist. (Phew.)

The subject: Thoreau's argument for refusing to participate in unjust governments and how to avoid kowtowing to it.

Why I chose it: I read "Walden" and enjoyed it, plus I couldn't resist the title and the fact that this book influenced Gandhi (who then influenced Martin Luth
Hamidur Rahman
I am not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society...I perceive that, when an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain inert to make way for the other, but both obey their own laws, and spring and grow and flourish as best they can, till one, perchance, overshadows and destroys the other. If a plant cannot live according to nature, it dies; and so a man.

Well, I cannot agree with a man who takes such a stern social darwinist-ic views. Surprisingly,
This essay is of great importance to American democracy and provides inspiration to those who are trying to change society when facing an unsympathetic majority. The main point of this essay is that we should not be passive when we feel that laws are unjust. Thoreau compares those who only verbally express their dissatisfaction but fail to take action to mere resources to be used by the state. By taking action, we affirm our humanity. Thoreau also encourages us not to be afraid if in pursuit of ...more
This was an interesting thought experiment, and an artifact of a different time. I can see how it was inspirational for modern incarnations of civil disobedience, but it definitely represents a way that would be unlikely to work the same way if attempted in the modern world. I found it interesting how much this essay focused on withholding tax payments as a way of protesting certain government acts with which one disagreed (in Thoreau's case, with slavery and the Mexican-American war, but he als ...more
Mohammad Ali
متن خود نافرمانی مدنی و همچنین افزوده های این جزوه ی الکترونیکی بسیار جالب و جذاب بودند. البته برای من بیشتر از نفس این اثر و رویکردهاش، زندگی شخص ثورو و عملکردهاش جالب و گیرا بودند. باید اذعان کرد که افزوده ها واقعا بجا و مناسبند.

در مورد ترجمه باید متاسفانه اذعان کرد که ترجمه ی اصل مقاله ی نافرمانی مدنی متوسط و گاهی زیر متوسط است - البته اصل مقاله هم ابهاماتی دارد و من چند جایی که به آن مراجعه کردم مشکلی برایم حل نشد و جملات گرچه به نحو لغوی فهم می شدند اما منظور نویسنده گنگ باقی می ماند. در مو
Book with an antonym in the Title

The title I worked with on this book was The Duty of Civil Disobedience. Not technically antonyms, but close enough for a book I was interested in reading.

As a piece of history it makes for an engaging read. As a piece of prose, it is well written. As a piece of political theory it's interesting, however I would not totally agree with it. I think I still connect to much to the old musketeers with their phrase "all for one, and one for all" to ever be so ardent an
Eh, books will appeal to those with anarchistic ideals, but overall it read like a frustrated child not liking what their parents ask them to do, but doing them anyway than justifying their conflict in action vs desire. Overall it was very simplistic, the common theme was him wanting to pose an argument to not pay taxes, even though he approves of where it goes after he recalls his time going to prison for a day.

The opposition to slavery was agreeable, but it just all tied back into him not want
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Essays, First Series
  • The Journals of Ayn Rand
  • The Memorable Thoughts of Socrates
  • Nature
  • On Truth and Untruth: Selected Writings
  • The Laws of Plato
  • Dos Delitos e das Penas
  • The Complete Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • The City of the Sun
  • On Disobedience and Other Essays
  • How to Speak and Write Correctly
  • In the Cage
  • Authority and the Individual
  • Democracy in America Volume 2
  • The History of Herodotus, V1
  • Common Sense
  • En defensa de la intolerancia
  • On Liberty and Utilitarianism
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 Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (Collected Essays) Walking Walden and Other Writings

Share This Book

“Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.” 168 likes
“Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.” 30 likes
More quotes…