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Hope in the Dark

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  6,747 ratings  ·  947 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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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  6,747 ratings  ·  947 reviews


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Oriana
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
...more
Michael
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, recs
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, and political victories over the past five decades. Stressing that change rarely i ...more
Lea
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
Jan-Maat
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
Thomas
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
...more
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
...more
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.

W
...more
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
...more
Rachel
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!
Colleen
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.
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
...more
Adam
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: organizing
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
...more
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
...more
Anna
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
Amy
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No doubt there have been many times since this came out, that it has acted as a salve for a reader in need. 7 months into COVID-19 times, with Black Lives Matters demonstrations happening every day in multiple cities for months on end, with disappointingly limited racial justice results so far, and while the West coast now burns like never before, this book was a definite needed support full of rich ideas and examples to provide hope in the dark. Also how funny is it to remember when Bush II was ...more
Sheila
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
...more
Laura Noggle
“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.”

2.5 rounded up because ... I do
...more
Bookworm
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
Rebecca
“Activism is not a journey to the corner store, it is a plunge into the unknown. The future is always dark.” Solnit believes in the power of purposeful individuals working towards social justice, even in the face of dispiriting evidence (the largest protests the world had seen didn’t stop the Iraq War). Instead of perfectionism, she advises flexibility and resilience; things could be even worse had we not acted. At first I thought it depressing that 15 years on we’re still dealing with many of t ...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:

https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/...

"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."

...more
Kate Savage
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was written after the massive peace marches across the world tried to stop the US and Britain from going to war in Iraq. And then the US and Britain went to war in Iraq.

Out of this disappointment, frustration, and hopelessness, Solnit writes about the winding, beautiful, indirect consequences of direct action. She takes away our precious sense of purity, and leaves us with reasons to get back to work.

This book is as important now as ever.
Paul
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
...more
Brooke
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, nonfiction
I wish I had read this when I bought it because the book would've hit a little differently pre-Trump. Still an excellent read.
Lena
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
...more
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
...more
Kathy
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
Kathrina
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.
Mehrsa
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...
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
...more
Melissa
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.
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4,895 followers
Writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of more than twenty books on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering  and walking, hope and disaster, including  Call Them By Their True Names (Winner of the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction),  Cinderella Liberator,  Men Explain Things to Me, The Mother of All Questions,  and  Ho ...more

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“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.” 101 likes
“Perfection is a stick with which to beat the possible.” 71 likes
More quotes…