Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea

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Vintage, 2007 - Nonviolence - 203 pages
3 Reviews
The conventional history of nations, even continents, is a history of warfare. According to this view, all the important ideas and significant changes of humankind occured as part of an effort to win one violent, bloody conflict or another. This approach to history is only one of many examples of how societies promote warfare and glorify violence. But there have always been a few who have refused to fight. Governments have long regarded this minority as a danger to society and have imprisoned and abused them and encouraged their persecution. This was true of those who refused Europe's wars, who refused to fight for their king, who refused to fight for Napoleon as well as against him. It was true of Virginia Woolf's sister Vanessa and her husband Clive Bell - outcasts in rural Sussex because they opposed World War I at a time when the British socialist movement described a bayonet as a weapon with a worker on each end.It was true of the first American draft dodger, a Menonite who believed in American independence but believed it was wrong to use violence and rejected the call of his local militia. It was true of the many abolitionists who had dedicated their lives to stopping slavery but refused to fight in the Civil War. Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and, most impressively, the Menonites and the Quakers - all have passages in their major teachings rejecting warfare as immoral. In this brilliant exploration of pacifism, these points of view are discussed alongside such diverse non-violence theorists as Tolstoy, Shelley, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Aldous Huxley, Erasmus, Confucius and Lao Tse to show how many modern ideas - such as a united Europe, the United Nations, and the abolition of slavery - originated in such non-violence movements.

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User Review  - lucasdwi - LibraryThing

Excellently written work on the history of nonviolence. Mark Kurlansky successfully captures the reader on a historical journey from the beginnings of religions and their relationship with violence to ... Read full review

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User Review  - nmele - LibraryThing

I didn't particularly enjoy Kurlansky's book on nonviolence--although his facts are accurate, they are often incomplete and his tone is snarky throughout. Someone whose introduction to nonviolence is this book is likely to reject the whole business. Read full review

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About the author (2007)

Mark Kurlansky is the bestselling author of Cod- A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World(winner of the Glenfiddich Best Food Book Award), The Basque History of the World, Salt- A World History, 1968- The Year that Rocked the World, a short story collection The White Man in the Treeand a novel Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue(all published by Cape and Vintage). He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter.

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