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Resistance, Rebellion and Death: Essays

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  2,770 ratings  ·  144 reviews
In the speech he gave upon accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, Albert Camus said that a writer "cannot serve today those who make history; he must serve those who are subject to it." And in these twenty-three political essays, he demonstrates his commitment to history's victims, from the fallen maquis of the French Resistance to the casualties of the Cold War ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 29th 1995 by Vintage (first published 1960)
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Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, politics
Albert Camus is one of the great consciences of the 20th century, along with Adam Michnik of Poland, Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia, and Aleksander Solzhenitsyn of Russia. The essays in Resistance, Rebellion and Death: Essays come from the 1940s and 1950s. The subjects dealt with include Nazism, Hungary (1956), capital punishment, Algeria, and the moral responsibility of the writer.

The more I read of Camus, the more I admire him -- as a writer, as a philosopher, and as a political thinker. When
Jul 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
"...But I merely wanted to express that anguish I feel every day when faced with the decrease of liberal energies, the prostituting of words, the slandered victims, the smug justification of oppression, the insane admiration of force. We see a multiplication of those minds of whom it has been said that they seemed to count an inclination towards slavery as an ingredient of virtue. We see the intelligence seeking justifications for its fear, and finding them readily, for every cowardice has its o ...more
Jade Lopert
I find it incredibly depressing that certain books are out of print and somewhat difficult to find. This is one of them. This is one of those books whose relevance is not constrained to the time it was written in. Change the names of the countries and people and it could have been written for today. I genuinely believe everyone should read this who cares about the world around them and what's going on in it.
It also does a fantastic job of fleshing out much of Camus' philosophies that are covered
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
The last time I saw him was in Paris in the spring of 1944. We were never closer to each other than during that last meeting. We had met in a restaurant in Rue Saint-Benoît, and afterward, walking along the quais in beautiful weather, we had spoken at length of the future. We were in such deep agreement that for the first time I felt an absolute confidence in the future of our country.

Camus writes here of the last time he saw his friend Rene Leynaud who was later murdered by the Nazis.

Camus is o
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A tour de force. One man, both artist and philosopher, tackling the great dilemmas and ideas of his time, with thought that is clean, bristling with energy and timeless. A superb collection of essays concerning topics from the French Resistance in WWII, racism and strife in French-Arab Algeria, the death penalty and the philosophy of art.
Michael Shoemake
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
I've always had conflicting feelings about Camus. He is a naive political writer; but I have always felt uncomfortable with my judgment of this naivetè. There are times when I suspect he had, in his reading of the world, reached a higher naiveté, the naiveté of wise men and the thinking faithful -- that he truly did understand more sophisticated views, but also saw them for what they truly were: sophistical.

There are a great many moments that reinforce this feeling. When, for example, moral ques
Apr 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
Albert Camus is a lucid and engaging writer; even in translation, one can recognize the powerful originality of his metaphors and analogies. And unlike some his of continental peers, he endorses a fairly common-sense version of classical liberalism. As he writes in "Bread and Freedom," freedom is the paramount human value: If you have food, say, but no freedom, then you live in precarity. But freedom, as a matter of definition, entails access to food and other necessities.*

Many of these essays f
Shaimaa Ali
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it
These are several essays written by Camus covering lots of Political, social, artistic topics. I got to touch the artistic & noble side of him in so many paragraphs as per my excerpts below, however I loathed his articles about Algeria as I couldn't understand his point of view. Freedom should be the same for all nations, not to be seek when the Oppressor is France for God's sake!

* Man is that force which ultimately cancels all tyrants and gods.
* And we, who call ourselves defenders of the spir
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Historians, philosophers, journalists, sociologists
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a collection of articles Camus wrote between 1939-1958, concerning the siuation in French Algeria.
Henry Martin
Nov 11, 2014 marked it as to-read
My wife surprised me with this book this morning - a gift. Will be reading it soon.
David Peak
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Worth reading just for "Reflections on the Guillotine," which is perhaps the single most persuasive argument against capital punishment I have ever read. ...more
May 21, 2019 added it
Shelves: favorites
I’m not good at giving stars to books.

In the beginning, if I really liked a book I’d give four or five stars, but to this day I don’t know what that means. Then I decided to leave it to the instinct when in the last page of the book.

But even if I accept my relativism as original, not biased, or accidentally condescending and that I have come up with a perfect “star-giving” mechanism, I’d still ask myself “How could you rate a philosopher like Camus with stars and grades? Isn’t philosophy’s goal
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Powerfully and staggeringly timely.

Man is mortal. That may be, but let us die resisting; and if our lot is complete annihilation, let us not behave in such a way that it seems justice!

I chose justice in order to remain faithful to the world. I continue to believe that this world has no ultimate meaning. But I know that something in it has a meaning and that is man, because he is the only creature to insist on having one: hence he must be saved if we want to save the idea we have of life.

Raymond Thomas
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, philosophy
I believe one of the descriptions of this book by the publisher state that this collection of writings is a masterful demonstration of Camus' "moral intelligence" and I simply couldn't agree more. The political writings of Camus range from his time in the French Resistance to the Algerian War (itself a personal struggle for Camus) and finally to the crushed revolt in Hungary and other discourses on the evils of totalitarianism. Throughout the works, one gets a understanding of the idea of justic ...more
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Albert Camus is an extremely talented writer and a great humanist. I loved the book, especially Letters to a German Friend, Algeria, Reflections on the Guillotine. Some of the quotes I loved from the essays:

“Today freedom has not many allies. I have been known to say that the real passion of the twentieth century was slavery”.

“Men like you and me who in the morning patted children on the head would a few hours later become meticulous executioners.”

“Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being
Siddhartha Kumar
Camus was such a powerful force of nature. Clear, precise, penetrating and brutally honest. His essays "Reflections on the Guillotine" and "Create Dangerously" were one of the most precise works I've come across on the subjects that I think about a lot - the futility of the death penalty and the work of an artist. Looking forward to read the rest of his bibliography. ...more
Erik Graff
Oct 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Camus fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
I read this while visiting Ed Erickson and other friends at the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana while on Xmas break from Grinnell College--one of many visits to the U of I made possible by the fact that they were on a quarter system while we were on a semester one.

The biggest impression made by this book was in terms of Camus' treatment of the Algerian independence movement (the most prominent topic in this collection) which was nearing success at the time of this book's publication a
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The fact that these essays resonated with me so strongly today shows we haven’t yet emerged successfully from the ‘wager of our generation’ of liberty versus nihilism of which Camus speaks after World War Two.

I very nearly docked a star because the essays regarding Algeria were so hypocritical coming after his towering ‘Defense of Freedom’ essays, Camus was clearly far too close to the situation as a French-Algerian to see the situation without bias. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It seems sh
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
It's a little remarkable how relevant some of these essays still are given their subject matter.

"If absolute truth belongs to anyone in this world, it certainly does not belong to the man or party that claims to possess it. When historical truth is involved, the more anyone claims to possess it the more he lies." p 165
Trystan W
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Initially, when reading these essays, I was put off by Camus’ frequent exhortations of society to realise the virtues of concepts such as liberty, honour, and justice. He is an Absurdist, after all, I thought. Surely he would be wise enough to see that these are merely flimsy social constructs, things which are very dangerous to base one’s philosophy off of. That was, until I realised that he is in fact not doing this. He is an Absurdist: he does not centre his philosophy around doctrine; he doe ...more
Jul 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Camus chose twenty-three essays to comprise this collection a year before his death. Camus is a powerful writer and has a rousing crowd-pleasing style ("The doves of peace do not perch on gallows") suited to editorials, a style that must have been honed during his days as a writer in the French Resistance.

"The society of money and exploitation has never been charged, so far as I know, with assuring the triumph of freedom and justice. Police states have never been suspected of opening schools of
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, non-fiction
The first set "Letters to a German friend" was very disturbing. War is business, but Camus makes it sound like it is based on ideology. He also seems to think that the decision to go to war is a collective one made by an entire nation, when it actually is made by the ruling class alone. Camus is a philosopher and not a politician as he himself claims, and I add that even his knowledge of basic politics is questionable.

I admire Camus, but for politics around the World Wars, I prefer Orwell.

I re
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to those looking to learn about Camus's political stance (that put him apart from Sartre).

This is not particularly easy or enjoyable to read, but I think Camus is more explicit than normal about his position in these many separate essays.

A crude summary might be: 'noone should die for an ideology, the loss of liberty imposed by any totalitarian government makes it have a net negative result, and nihilism is not the way forward for post-WWII societies'.

Camus is a charming militant pa
Nathan Mccrina
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The sheer positivity of the writing is infectious. It is full of brilliant insight into totalitarianism and how it can, indeed must, be resisted. I was particularly impressed by his argument against capital punishment, especially the interesting observation that over the course of the 20th century a person is just as, if not more, likely to be killed by the State than another individual; it is therefore important to protect the liberty of everyone by reducing the role of the State as omniscient, ...more
Sep 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war
This is the book you read after watching Army of Shadows. Do you want to prolong that mood? I don't know. However, this is the mood you are in and so this is the book to read.

You can pretty much guess how this book will be by the fact that it's Camus. The writing is excellent; the subject is complex, depressing, and difficult. Camus is always difficult, but he is worth it. The question is whether you can deal with him at that particular point in time.
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Such clarity and humanity and beautifully expressed conviction... Here's what I'd like to say to George Bush: "There are means that cannot be excused. And I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice. I don't want just any greatness for it, particularly a greatness born of blood and falsehood. I want to keep it alive by keeping justice alive. (p. 5)"

Lawrence Kelley
Mar 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gave me a unique perspective on America's upcoming War on Terror. Much of what the U.S. would inherit were problems originally sparked by British and French colonialism in Africa and the Middle East. ...more
August Robert
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-questions
Resistance, Rebellion, and Death lives up to its heady title, as Camus wrestles with the great moral dilemmas of his times – freedom and liberty, the carnage of WWII, zero-sum anti-colonial battles in Algeria and Hungary, the death penalty, and the responsibility of art. This deft collection is made up of everything from interviews and speeches, to underground journalism, and formal essays.

Camus quite publicly broke with his contemporary, Sartre, on the matter of whether violence can be justifie
Sep 12, 2019 rated it liked it
A nice collection of essays by Camus on the French Resistance, the Algerian War, the Soviet intervention in Hungary, violence, vengeance, art, and more. The writing is very powerful, heartfelt, and passionate. It can be a little hard to follow at times, if you aren't used to reading this sort of mid-century philosophy, but definitely worth checking out. ...more
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shelby
I love Camus. Easily my favorite writer, thinker, philosopher, political theorists etc. etc.
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Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a representative of non-metropolitan French literature. His origin in Algeria and his experiences there in the thirties were dominating influences in his thought and work. Of semi-proletarian parents, early attached to intellectual circles of strongly revolutionary tendencies, with a deep interest in philosophy (only chance prevented him from pursuing a university care ...more

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