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Hope in the Dark

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  5,160 ratings  ·  753 reviews
With Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable. Drawing on her decades of activism and a wide reading of environmental, cultural, and political history, Solnit argues that radicals have a long, neglected history of transformative victories, that the positive consequences of ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 16th 2005 by Canongate Books (first published April 1st 2004)
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4.06  · 
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 ·  5,160 ratings  ·  753 reviews

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Nov 25, 2016 marked it as didntfinish-yet
Shelves: read-2016
I'm a big fan of Rebecca Solnit — deep and moving essayist, unapologetic feminist and activist, inventor of the term "mansplaining," all-around brilliant gal. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you follow her on FB, where she is in the midst of a tireless campaign of resistance, deligitimizing our Horror-in-Chief, and spreading action steps so we can all do the same.

And I'm editing this part of my review, because I do not wish to stop anyone from either reading this book or from feeling ho
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, favorites
My review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, also can be found on my blog.

Written in response to the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, but rereleased in early 2016 in the wake of America’s deteriorating political climate, Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark puts forth a lucid thesis: hope is “an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable,” and in “the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.” The book consists of several short essays that survey overlooked environmental, cultural, a
I found this a rather disappointing and disjointed book, that depressed me more than it gave me hope. Maybe because it was written pre-Trump and a lot of the hopeful thing she says just seem more and more naive with each day. Yes, she gives some examples of hope campaigning and fighting for the right things can change and move, and how we often can't see the impact our positive actions have right away. But overall it was just a reminder of how big the beast is we're up against. Especially when s ...more
I have been aware of Rebecca Solnit as the name of a writer for a while, a name which is curiously melodious to my ear - simply another sign perhaps that my hearing is not so good, in addition to my chronic difficulties with my eustachian tubes (view spoiler) I had certainly read some book reviews, something about feminism, something about walking, I would not have predicted her wide ranging engagement in political activism and her Bono ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

An imaginative and intelligent examination of the importance of cultivating hope in the midst of social justice movements. This essay collection includes an array of thought-provoking ideas, including viewing activism as a process and not just an outcome, the skill of honoring small victories while acknowledging larger battles, and using hope as a self-aware source of motivation to fuel further action. Though Hope in the Dark first came out in response to the Bush administration's invas
Kristina Horner
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really needed this. I've been listening to this book sporadically over the past month or two on my commute and it left me with a lot of new ideas that are really helping me get through a lot of the crap going on right now. It's a great book.

Biggest takeaway was that we shouldn't be afraid to celebrate small wins, even if the fight isn't over. The fight is never over. We can always improve, there's always going to be more causes to fight for, but we have to celebrate progress - and then keep fi
Camille Sheppard
Its hard for me to exaggerate how important I feel this book is and how personally relevant it was for me to read it right now.

Rebecca Solnit's prose, per usual, is a pleasure to read, but more than that, she hits home with her message for anyone who feels overwhelmed, terrified, discouraged and desperate about the current state of affairs in politics, the environment and social issues.

Over and over again, her retelling of a story allowed me to reframe a story of my own, personal and public.

Jenny (Reading Envy)
"Hope locates itself in the premises that we don't know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.... [Hope is] the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand."
Rebecca Solnit did a third edition update of this book in the early months of 2016, originally published in 2004 after the re-election of George W. Bush. The audience is clear, people disappointed in his re-elec
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm so grateful for this book

Just bought 30 copies to start giving them away. In the darkness lies possibility. The dark of the future is not inevitably evil or ugly. The future is dark because it is yet unwritten. Thank you Rebecca Solnit.
2.5 stars. Unfortunately 'Hope In The Dark' spends most of itself talking about what it's going to be and do, and then runs out of time in which to be and do it. There are scattered snatches of insight and inspiration, but these are completely overshadowed by overall disjointedness and lack of content behind the bluster. If you're going to give your book such a promising title, you've got to back it up!
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
3.5 stars. If the 2016 election left you feeling despair, this book is for you. It was originally written at another time many people felt despair - during the 2003 discussion of WMD in Iraq. But Solnit covers so much more ground than just what to when you don't agree with your elected officials. She offers hope in the ability of every individual to make change.

She says, “To hope is to gamble. It's to bet on your futures, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is
Betty C.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this following a recommendation from the website Brainpickings, which touted it as a beacon of hope in our dark times. I was disappointed. First, it is outdated, as it was doomed to be, focusing on the movement against the second Iraq war and on anti-globlization protests of the nineties. Second, looking at the state the world is in today, the protest activities the author refers to unfortunately don't leave me that hopeful.

I see many are enthusiastic about this book, and I'm sure it's o
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: organizing, lefty
Solnit strikes again! Right to my heart. I think she's committed to progressive movement building for the same reason as me: love. Not anger, but love, and really, hope, because we're in this not so that we have something to do, but because we think we're on to something; that there are some “wild possibilities.”

Solnit wrote this before the Obama campaign, before there was that added discursive element to the word “hope.” “Hope” is a departure point for her, a meaning for her to describe her per
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, non-fiction
Rebecca Solnit is becoming one of my favorite writers. Her writing style can be rambling, but I enjoy the ride, enjoy the roundabout thinking, the meandering sentences blending together into thought provoking ideas.

This book is a collection of essays relating to hope, to activism, to staying strong when it seems things are not going in the correct direction for a civil society. In the afterword of this book the author states "I believe that you can talk about both the terrible things we should e
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
The first five-ish chapters were exactly what I needed. And then it fell apart. In the post-2016 aftermath this book had been tossed around quite a bit by various people and the premise sounded like something I really needed to read right now. As she looks at various types and events and kinds of activism author Solnit reminds people to keep hoping. The road for progress is long, winding, and sometimes people do not live to see the changes they set into motion not because they die in the process ...more
Emma Sea
Nov 12, 2016 marked it as own-and-need-to-read  ·  review of another edition
In response to the election results, Rebecca Solnit has made this book available for free download for the next four days:

"Tracing a history of activism and social change over the past decades - including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Zapatista uprising in Mexico to Seattle in 1999, and the worldwide marches against the war in Iraq, this title proposes a vision of cause-and-effect relations that provides grounds for political engagement."

Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I should definitely have read one of Solnit’s books before, as I’ve enjoyed her writing online and found ‘Hope in the Dark’ a moving, thought-provoking, and deeply satisfying read. I love her elegant, measured style. While writing with passion and feeling, she also qualifies and hedges her statements in a way that really speaks to me as I tend to do the same. (Note the hedging use of ‘tend to’, because I don’t always!) I found her reasons to hope in horrifying political times inspiring and encou ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2018
For centuries people have revolted over the control that the state or other powerful individuals have tried to exert over the people. People can only be told what to do so much. I Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit concentrates on the past five decades of activism against the state about all manner of issues. Sonit acknowledges the huge political thinkers who have shaped some of the politics that happen today.

It is an interesting polemic against the vested interests and the present economic system
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I discovered Rebecca Solnit last year after reading the eloquent article she wrote that inserted the term "mansplaining" into the modern lexicon. I found her prose to be so rich and satisfying I wanted to read more, so I looked for her most recently copyrighted book and got this.

Turns out Hope in the Dark is a collection of her essays dated from the early 2000's, when we were struggling with the reality of George W. Bush and the Patriot Act. In 2016, the book had been re-released with an updated
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because I needed a breath of something positive in this anxiety-filled time of racial tension and bullying political craziness. Solnit's language is always lyrical and her insights bright and spot-on. What surprised me most about this book is how relevant it still is, given it was published in 2004. Bush was still in office, the Iraq war still going, all hell breaking loose, but her vision is larger. She begins with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, moves through the Zap ...more
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just what I needed to read in the Trump era. Things do get better. It's ok to measure progress even when it seems so bad. It's so jarring though that what she thinks was the worst is actually cause for nostalgia these days. Ah Bush...the good old days of dark...
Kurt Ostrow
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Activists often speak as though the solutions we need have not yet been launched or invented, as though we are starting from scratch, when often the real goal is to amplify the power and reach of existing alternatives. What we dream of is already present in the world" (xvii).

"Americans are good at responding to a crisis and then going home to let another crisis brew both because we imagine that the finality of death can be achieved in life—it's called 'happily ever after' in personal life, 'sav
Antoinette Perez
First reading:
I really needed this. Solnit's essays have always been good for my soul. This collection is timely (timeless?) and relevant and helped a lot lot lot.

Second reading:
It's remarkable what a different experience it was to read this book after a very full year of activism -- like a second-full-time-job-very-full-year of activism. First time through, I needed hope and I found reassurance in this book. This time around, I saw so many graceful ways to encourage my fellow activists to stay
Thanks so much to Haymarket Books for making this available for free a few weeks ago. It was what I needed in the aftermath of the election, to get both riled up and stay hopeful. (Also has one of the best definitions of NAFTA I've run across.)

And to quote Dumbledore, who doesn't figure here but has the line that resonates the most: hope can be found in the darkest of places, if one only turns on the light.
Intense, and sometimes difficult to read about what seemed so direly impossible over ten years ago now a nearly nostalgic pleasurescape compared to the state of the world today. But Solnit creates an overall powerful mental armory for the social activist, and I wish I had the knack to memorize whole paragraphs of her articulate insights.
Paula Ronkin
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"People have always been good at imagining the end of the world, which is much easier to picture than the strange sidelong paths of change in a world without end." A great celebration of the revolutionary potential of hope and a new imagination.
Stephanie Sun
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Local lefty and protectionist thorn in the side of techno-utopian gentrifiers still has hope after Tuesday:

The ebook version of Hope in the Dark is free from Haymarket Books for the next five days (linked from her post).
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just go read it now everyone.
Kitty B
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I am a huge fan of Solnit’s writing and have inhaled much of her recent work in the press and a couple of her iconic books. Becoming almost evangelical about her insight into today’s world, I recommended this book for our book club. However, I struggled to ‘enjoy’ this short collection of hopeful essays written when Bush was elected to the White House and led the invasion of Iraq. Maybe it’s a time and place thing but amongst moments of brilliant clarity, I felt like I was trudging through an in ...more
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really respect and admire Rebecca Solnit. I also have an extremely low-brow complaint about her work, which is I find it way too serious. I feel the same way about Joan Didion, and I know that when I'm reading a book about, say, disaster capitalism or the death of a husband, I shouldn't be in it for the yukks, but because my own experiences with activism have included a lot of bad ideas and aggressive idiots, I didn't love this book the way I wanted to. Is there a book halfway between this and ...more
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Rebecca Solnit is an American author who often writes on the environment, politics, place, and art. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications in print and online, including the Guardian newspaper and Harper's Magazine, where she is the first woman to regularly write the Easy Chair column founded in 1851. She is also a regular contributor to the political blog TomDispatch and to LitHub.

“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal... To hope is to give yourself to the future - and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” 78 likes
“Perfection is a stick with which to beat the possible.” 61 likes
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