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Civil Disobedience

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  3,423 ratings  ·  142 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)
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Rachel
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
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Riku Sayuj
Was a wonderful experience to read it in parallel with The Prince.
Saman
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.
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
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Mike
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
Ricardo
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
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Matthew
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
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Vichy
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
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Alberto
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
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Amy
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
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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.
"
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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
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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
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Tom Mcguire
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Galen
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
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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
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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,
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Diz
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
Silas
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
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Abdul-rahman Nofal
While he addresses very important issues as corruption, the expanding of government power, the importance of morality and standing by your beliefs, Henry David Thoreau gives very simplistic and unrealistic solutions to the problems he stated.

Ted
I like Thoreau when he is at his transcendentalist high point. This is NOT the same man as in Walden.

This screed reminds me people that used to come into the court where I was a law clerk and rank about being sovereign beings and did not r sort the authority of the state. They'd file rambling motion after motion with this quaint 18th century naïveté language: it was naive then. Even more so now. This may surprise people as I am very libertarian at heart. But Thoreau sounds like a petulant child
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Amirnader
Unlike some other political writings of the same era, this is still relevant today.
Barbara
As much as I wanted to love this, it came across as a tea party manifesto. :(
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
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Dimitris Hall
My small review for this book was lost; Goodreads shamelessly told me, after I had clicked save, that my review didn't exist. Well, it existed up to the point you told me it didn't exist anymore -- which must had been true at that specific point in time, even if as a fact by itself it can't explain the reason it did not exist anymore. Anyway, before I go on in stranger circles of logic, I'll just say that the reason I'm giving this one two stars is because I read it/listened to it at the very sa ...more
Juliet
For some reason I thought this would be more explorative than it is subjective. However in as much as it presents one man’s thoughts and experience relating to one state, the arguments put make perfect, reasoned sense.

Thoreau’s thoughts are as relevant today as in his day and to any state. The statement that leapt out to me – “A very few—as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men—serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part
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Nathan Tenney
Although short, the ideas in this essay are so profound that the length didn't matter at all. What Thoreau wrote was all fundamental truths and great philosophies that I knew were true the instant I read them, I had just never thought that way before. This is one of my favorite books because it changed some of my viewpoints/ways of thinking, and was able to interpret key points in the ever-important government and individual relationship.
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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,
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Walden Walden & Civil Disobedience Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (Collected Essays) Walking Walden and Other Writings

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“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.” 167 likes
“Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.” 30 likes
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