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Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict
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Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

(Columbia Studies in Terrorism and Irregular Warfare)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  213 ratings  ·  21 reviews
For more than a century, from 1900 to 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts in achieving their stated goals. By attracting impressive support from citizens, whose activism takes the form of protests, boycotts, civil disobedience, and other forms of nonviolent noncooperation, these efforts help separate regi ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published December 11th 2012 by Columbia University Press (first published July 8th 2011)
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4.06  · 
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 ·  213 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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This book builds upon the themes of the authors' 2008 article of the same title in the journal International Security. This continues their research into the theme that non-violent political campaigns are more likely to achieve their intended goals compared to violent campaigns. This is based upon a comparative study of some 323 campaigns from 1900-2006, aggregated in the NAVCO 2.0 dataset, found here. There are also four detailed case studies: The Islamic Revolution in Iran, the First Infitada, ...more
Sabrina Williams
Excellent book! Chenoweth and Stephan do a superb job of showing the reader how and why nonviolent movements are superior vis-a-vis violent movements. It's clear that they painstakingly went through years of resistance movements and their idiosyncrasies and tried to figure out if they were successful in achieving their goals and why this was so. The book is filed with data, analysis, examples and case studies. Perfect read for folks wanting to understand WHY nonviolence works and why is often a ...more
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. A little dry, but I liked some of the stories, especially about mass protesters in the Philippines who surrounded soldiers, offering them flowers and chocolate and inviting the soldiers to join them. Oh also the "confetti demonstrations" in the business district of Manila where 100,000 office workers marched in the streets as protesters threw down yellow pieces of shredded phone books from the skyscrapers. That's awesome.

Basic take-away from the book: Nonviolent campaigns usually wor
Rus Funk
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good examination of why nonviolence succeeds, by multiple indicators, over violence.
It is a text book and written for scholars and students but is still worth adding to your library.
Antti Rasinen
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fascinating book. A short confession: I am against political violence. The rating I've given might be in part due to the book agreeing with my views.

Now that I've said that, the book is wonderful. It presents the idea that non-violent mass movements are the most effective way to topple repressive governments or acquire concessions from them. The researches have a data set of two hundred and some insurgencies, which they analyze from multiple angles. The first part of the book covers the t
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonviolence
On the nonviolent/civil disobedience side we have Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi, Desmond Tutu and Vaclav Havel; lining up with the armed struggle/revolutionary violence folks are George Washington, Ho Chi Minh, Emiliano Zapata, Simon Bolivar and Michael Collins. Whether one picks up the gun or sits-in at the presidential palace will depend on moral, intellectual and emotional judgments informed by religious training and convictions, social class and political ambition. Pl ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review first published on My Blog.

An in-depth study and analysis of how successful nonviolent and violent campaigns are historically. The thesis is that non-violent campaigns are more successful at achieving their results long-term and since they were looking mostly at regime changes, ending up in a more democratic government as well. They reviewed campaigns going back to 1900 and wrote about 4 specific case studies in the book to illustrate specific points (Iran, Philippines, Burma, and Israel/
Ben Lever
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
This was a little more academic than I expected it to be but still very accessible. Its message is very important, too - the data is in and violent insurgency is not a rational last-resort tactic that will succeed when all else fails. It's all statistical, of course, but the truth is that nonviolent civil resistance is more likely to succeed, more likely to result in peaceful democracy (as opposed to the insurgents taking over and being just as bad as the last lot), and safer to participate in. ...more
Chenoweth and Stephan argue that nonviolent resistance movements are more likely to succeed than violent resistance movements. They analyze 323 violent and nonviolent resistance campaigns between 1900 and 2006, for regime change, territorial goals such as secession or evicting occupying forces, and other goals such as antiapartheid. They discuss how they sorted campaigns into violent and nonviolent categories, given that some groups may have violent and nonviolent phases or subgroups. They discu ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely amazing book that really breaks down civil resistance and the steps that go into it. This was one of the main books that I used for the writing of my senior thesis in college and I still find myself picking it up to refresh myself in this area. If you are at all interested in strategic nonviolence, you won't regret reading this book!
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very excellent study about the efficacy of nonviolent civil resistance.

My only beef with it is that the definitions of "nonviolent" and "violent" resistance campaigns is not given a lot of analysis. Early on in the book, the authors correctly state that "Few campaigns, historically, have been purely violent or nonviolent, and many resistance movements [...] have had violent and nonviolent periods. Armed and unarmed often operate simultaneously in the same struggle." Unfortunately, this complex
Oct 14, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I tried to like this book. I tried to READ this book. I didn't finish it, I didn't even get through the third chapter. I am a huge fan of civil resistance and nonviolence and thus really wanted to like this book. But I just couldn't. It reads like a college essay. The whole first chapter is the authors quipping about how their research is better than any other research on the subject. And what I did read appeared to be them saying the same things over and over again while simply rearranging the ...more
Alexandra Lehmann
This book's concept is pretty huge and its case studies work to prove it.
It lacked, however, mention of the Czech resistance which successfully dealt with Heinrich Himmler, the chief architect of the Final Solution. It also did not mention Sophie Scholl's led student resistance in Munich, which history has proven a success - if only for its courage and timeless example of what is possible under a dictatorship. When I attempted to reach the author to ask why she did not include both of these mov
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-reading
Excellent and well laid-out research on the facts surrounding the efficacy of nonviolence in social movements ranging from national revolutions to small-scale worker's strikes. There were times though where I had disagreements with the exact reasons used to name a particular movement as a "success" or "failure". However, researchers looking for empirical evidence to back up theories on nonviolent vs. violent change will find much to use here.
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was named the winner of the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. It is an excellent example of policy-relevant social science research using multiple methodologies. They utilize a large N-database to test the effectiveness of violent and nonviolent resistance (the latter succeed far more often) and they examine 4 case studies: Burma, Iran, Palestine, and the Philippines. The book is quite readable even for non-specialists.
Lou Lieb
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book. It's gratifying that a professional social scientist has set her sights on this topic, to take it beyond mere opinion, speculation and/or faith. As a proponent of nonviolence, I'm gratified that she provides a lot of ammunition (pardon the pun) for arguing for the effectiveness of nonviolent methods. I look forward to hearing much more about this topic in the future.
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A most informative and well researched dexamination of civil resistance world wide. Topical, timely and well written, this book comes out
at a historic time of world wide civil resistance to overarching power, and provides a means of examining real life, current situations.
Xiaoying Lu
Statistics does not give the cause of events.
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Liberty. Everybody else should read books that will cause them to fail;-)
Recommended to Michael by: FreeTalk Live's Mark
A really intelligent look at nonviolent resistance. This book picks up where Gene Sharp left off, builds upon it, and lets be honest is a heck of a lot easier to read!
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Erica Chenoweth, Ph.D. is Professor & Associate Dean for Research at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

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