James's Reviews > Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea

Nonviolence by Mark Kurlansky
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's review
Apr 08, 2012

it was amazing
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Read in June, 2008

This book was absolutely captivating.

The history of non-violence is unrepresented in our educational system. In fact, it is quite the opposite: our educational system presents history almost entirely as a progression of violent acts.

Kurlansky's book is remarkable for several reasons. It is a fascinating, lucid account of the non-violence movement throughout history, most of which we have never before encountered. His writing is excellent - clear and concise, and yet descriptive. And the story is so engaging it draws you in like a fiction novel.

Kurlansky contrasts the non-violence movement from that of the pacifist's. Gandhi was in fact antagonistic to the inaction in pacifism. Kurlansky quotes Ghandi, "Violence is any day preferable to impotence. There is hope for the violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent." As you read this book, you become aware of the incredible bravery of those in the active non-violence movement. As one non-violent leader was quoted as saying, it requires far more bravery to be an active non-violent protestor than a warrior.

Some of the writings from the non-violent movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are amazingly powerful. It makes one wonder how we could still be fighting wars in the twenty-first century. I can only think it is because we have leaders who lack imagination, intelligence, and yes; bravery.

I believe every teenager should have this book as required reading.

I rarely keep books. After I have read them, I put them out in to the world for others to enjoy. This book I will keep and read again many times. I would put it in my top ten of all time. Along with "All Is Quiet On The Western Front", it is a cry to humanity to stop the madness of war.

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message 1: by Steve (new) - added it

Steve Sewall Thanks. Good review; I'll check out the book. Your review came up when I Googled the quote "There is hope for the violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent." I'd seen it in Thomas Merton's "Gandhi on Non-violence", which has a good preface by Kurlansky. Are you familiar with the writings and work of James Douglass?

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