Non-Violence by Mark Kurlansky


Non-Violence by Mark Kurlansky is a sweeping yet concise history that moves from ancient Hindu times to present-day conflicts raging in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The book follows the history of nonviolence and nonviolent activism, focusing on religious and political ideals from early history to the present. Kurlansky also brings into focus just why nonviolence is a “dangerous” idea, and asks such provocative questions as: Is there such a thing as a “just war”?

The book illuminates that dark corner where economic, religious and state power often collude to perpetuate violence and marginalize activists for peace. It also delivers context to our struggle and hope for our prevailing.

Useful takeaways:

  • Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people
  • Nonviolence seeks to win friendships and understanding
  • Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice or evil, not people
  • Unearned, voluntary suffering for a just cause can educate and transform
  • Any form of revenge is violence and it is bound to bring sorrow for the doer
  • Non-violence is the personal practice of being harmless to self and others under every condition
  • Violence always comes with a supposedly rational explanation, which is only dismissed as irrational if the violence fails

What I Liked

I love how this book really gets into the hard parts, nuance, and complexity of Non-Violence. It does a good job discussing the active nature of non-violence. It is anything but passive. The book made me think of John Lewis’ classes and training that he did during the American Civil Rights movement.

What I Did Not Like

Nothing – amazing read.

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