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Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  504 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews

Soul of a Citizen has become the handbook for budding social activists, veteran organizers, and anybody who wants to make a change—big or small—in the world around them. At this critical historical time , Paul Loeb’s completely revised edition—and inspiring message—is more urgently important than ever.

Paperback, 358 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published March 15th 1999)
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Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Simone by: Katherine
An inspiring book for people who are dissatisfied with the way things are in the world today but feel overwhelmed at the thought of doing anything. Loeb uses a lot of stories of ordinary, unheard-of citizens who have been instrumental in bringing about huge change, as well as not generally known information about the difficulties faced by people we're more familiar with, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Gandhi and others. He makes the point that change doesn't come about all at o ...more
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"the best way to promote compassion and solidarity is not by appealing to some general notion of goodness, but by encouraging people to respond to specific human lives."

"The further we get into our causes, the more likely we are to believe that everyone shares our knowledge and assumptions, and that can be dangerous too. Often we armor ourselves with language, talking of hegemony and patriarchy, imperialism, and oppression, as if everyone assigns the same meaning to these words that we do, and a
Jun 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ended up skimming it. Already convinced that change requires slow steps, prior organization, but that individual acts further it, there was nothing new in the book for me. People who question these positions would benefit from reading it.
Aubree Cheadle
This book had a lot of good points but it could have been about a third of the length. After a while, listing a million examples to prove the same point just wasn't that effective.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect read for the activist this day and age. Everything you need to know.
Andre Heizer
Jun 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a puff piece. Irritating to read. Nothing more than the classic "you can do it!" book for people who need to find a reason to care about contributing to your community.
Cindy Matthews
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Soul of a Citizen is a must-read for every intelligent person on the planet. I found my copy in a charity book pile and picked it up because of the title. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. It is more relevant and quotable today than it was when it was published in 1999. No kidding--you'll believe Loeb wrote this masterpiece just yesterday so prescient is his vision. It's that timely. Every home should have this book on their shelf for quick and easy reference.

Loeb inspires and moti
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I gave this 4 stars because it lit a fire in me to be more active and vocal. Small steps but steps all the same.

I enjoyed the any stories of regular people, taking the first step to making change. Each story unique, drawing a connection between an experience need/want and action. The book does a nice job of challenging anyone to take action, to connect, to share. He warns that we isolate and remove oursleves and we lack concern due to a hopelessness that comes from our cynical world. He does a n
Jane S
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found the book's message very heartening and even especially so now given the plethora of public issues that challenge our common social fabric and wider polity. Roeb’s book recounted how activists and various grassroots took on a variety of issues, how challenges were interpreted and faced, strategies and tactics used to gain wider attention, and the means used to sustain momentum. In all of these accounts, Roeb hailed the morality and independent spirit of individual and private citizens who ...more
Tom Mueller
May 20, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political states "If you've ever wondered "is my activism actually accomplishing anything?" this is the book for you. When you feel like you're only shouting into the wind, when you're tempted to listen to friends who say nothing will ever change, Paul Rogat Loeb has the antidote."

Environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben said, "Soul of a Citizen has been a powerful inspiration to citizens acting for environmental sanity, showing how they can take committed stands, even if they don'
Jul 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sermonfodder
I heard Paul Loeb speak at the UUA General Assembly this summer, and was very inspired by his talk. Later in the week, while browsing in the bookstore area, I was practically accosted by the guy. He was signing copies of this and another book and told me that he'd heard from other ministers that they both are great resources for sermons. He signed one of each, so I really had to buy them, right? And I have to agree, this book is filled with good and inspiring stories of individuals who have gott ...more
Carol Kuniholm
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been spending time with this book for the past few months, trying to think through my responsibility as a citizen in a time when democracy feels a bit untethered. Loeb does a good job of examining reasons for disillusionment, and challenges his readers to rethink their investment in democracy. He has some great stories about people who have made a significant impact in human rights, environmental activism, care for the poor. He reminds us that change happens slowly, that no one can accompli ...more
I read this, wanting to know how others are getting involved in their communities. It tells that, with some of the challenges they have faced and how they handled their challenges. I don't agree with some of the causes espoused, and some that I agree are issues to address, I would have addressed differently. I don't like the get-government-to-regulate-this mentality that is reflected in some of the examples, but it isn't in all the examples, and it is not the focus of the book. The focus is that ...more
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being a good citizen will always be risky. Are you a staunch upholder of the Constitution? Every American knows without the Constitution's guarantees,our democratic way of life is called into question. Civil rights and liberties may suffer greatly during times of political upheaval and our Constitution guaranteed our country would remain a democratic union.

You may hug trees, advocate for migrant workers or legislate for the unborn. Whatever your calling to believe, it comes from the heart and s
Aug 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: sustainability
feel like i should give this book more than three stars. it had a lot of wonderful ideas and anecdotes, but ultimately it felt recycled and a little repetitive. i understand the loeb was grounding the structure of the book around the stories of 4-5 individuals, but reading about virginia ramirez and angie desoto and the maine fisherman and the evangelical guy and the former gangster turned community stretched thin.

still, a good read (if a bit overlong for the content), lots of e
Nicole McCann
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
motivation to the max! this book covers pieces of the puzzle of participating in a social movement, from coping with burnout to cynicism. i wish everyone could read this book that ever said, "my vote doesn't count," or "nothing my one little individual self can do is going to make a difference." the author has worked in promoting positive social change his whole life and has a wealth of stories from his own life as well as ordinary citizens from around the country. powerful book!
Aspen Junge
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: save-the-world
Inspiring. Loeb draws on the experience of generations of activists to help the reader understand how to get involved in a cause, get support from others, reach outside the box for allies and inspiration, determine your optimal level of activity, stay focussed and enthusiastic, cope with burnout, and reap the rewards of belonging to a community of activists. A must-read for anyone who wants to change the world.
Kimberly Fehler
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found Loeb's message heartening. It is nice to read that no major social change agent was born with "it," but had to practice and develop the muscle. About mid-way through the book, it becomes repetitive and at times over glorified "doing civil disobedience" a little to much for my taste. Interesting read.
Sep 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book inspiring - it's a great read for anybody who wants to make a difference but is overwhelmed by the tasks at hand and struggles with what one person can really do.

I'd dog-earred so many sections that I wanted to go back and record during its reading, that the book is twice as big as when I started!
Erin Payseur
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Conviction, commitment, moral courage - This book has sparked my interest even in the first couple of pages. It fits well with our leadership development model at Columbia College and its stories bring leadership to life in new ways. So far it is an inspiring read and one that I think will engage and empower students to get involved and make a difference.
Shawn Snow
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a semi inspiring book about how to become a better teacher through being a better citizen. This book also touched on certain topics that should be taught by teachers in order to mold students into becoming citizens that question the information presented to them, not just accept that information at face value.
Dec 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loeb's book is a warning against the dangers of cynicism and smugness during hard times. It makes me think that there's reason to continue to work for good and small incremental change. He teaches us that Ghandi and Rosa Parks weren't born who they became. And, they had people behind them, they didn't act alone.

Jun 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This book does a great job illustrating how anyone can make a difference socially and politically, and why it is important to get involved. It's rather inspiring. Unfortunately, it's longer than it needs to be. It hammers the same points home repeatedly.
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book that helped me identify what I wanted to do with my life. Ultimately had me applying for the Peace Corps, which I'm thankful I didn't wind up doing. It acts as an excellent reminder, however, of how we can impact those surrounding us from one day to the next.
This may have been the first book I read in college. It was assigned for a course called "Literature and the Social Experience: Gender, Race, and Class." At the time I didn't know books like this existed. Good book for stirring social consciousness.
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I discovered this book in a used book store somewhere. I've found some of my favorite books that way!

In this book, I found many powerful words of encouragement and challenge for those of us who feel compelled to serve God in the world.
Jun 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Author-spokes person -spiritually based citizen who honors activism.Addresses professional burnout,embraces humanity ethics dilemmas at its core.I am growing at his site.
"Burnout only really begins to heal when people learn how to grieve.
-Rachel Naomi Remen(from the book -page 243
Valena Arguello
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loebs's work is a must read for anyone working in the non-profit or public sector. Not only does it full embody this arena of work, but provides much needed inspiration to keep moving forward.
Aug 01, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did not enjoy this book--though I've heard many people love it, I was not really inspired by it at all...
Belinda Lum
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
currently reading.

So far I find this book compelling and interesting. It asks all of us to think about what activism means to each of us.
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Paul Rogat Loeb is an American social and political activist, who has strongly fought for issues including social justice, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and civic involvement in American democracy. Loeb is a frequent public speaker and has written five books and numerous newspaper editorials.
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“When you get involved in something meaningful, you make your life count.” 1 likes
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