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Hope in the Dark

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  7,863 ratings  ·  1,066 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 4.03  · 
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 ·  7,863 ratings  ·  1,066 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, 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
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
Shelves: audiobooks
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
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! ...more
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
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
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
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
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
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
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
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
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Hope in the Dark is a necessary book for anyone who is overwhelmed by the many injustices, crises, and disasters in this world, for anyone who feels themselves growing increasingly despondent in the face of all this.

It is a book which aims to correct common misconceptions about activism, and Rebecca Solnit convincingly shows that there are many: for example, how protests come into being, how they work, and what constitutes a success. She is uninterested in easy binaries such as optimism and pes
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
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
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
“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:

"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."

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.
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.
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
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2020
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. ...more
This book was originally published in 2004 during the proto-fascistic times of Bush II and the so-called "War on Terror" following the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the eventual invasion of Iraq. It was re-published with updated material before the 2016 election. The "dark" of which Ms. Solnit speaks is now a whole lot darker, the need for the "get off your butt" activism called for in this book, a lot more urgent. I still chafe at some of her writing "quirks" (e.g., her run- ...more
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
Mark McKenny
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't know when or where I picked this up from but it might be one of those books that could change my life, or at least my outlook on life. For example, tonight, Trump might win another term at the White House. Last week (before picking up this book) that might have depressed me, angered me, made me feel scared and vulnerable, much like it did 4 years ago. Now though? I don't know... This book teaches you to take note in the small victories, to learn that big change doesn't happen overnight and ...more
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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 LiberatorMen Explain Things to Me, The Mother of All Questions, and Hope in ...more

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33 likes · 37 comments
“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.” 122 likes
“Perfection is a stick with which to beat the possible.” 77 likes
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