Civil Disobedience, Solitude and Life Without Principleby Henry David Thoreau
Pub. Date: 04/28/1998
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) championed the belief that people of conscience were at liberty to follow their own opinion. In these selections from his writings, we see Thoreau the individualist and opponent of injustice. "Civil Disobedience" (1849), composed following Thoreau's imprisonment for refusing to pay his taxes in protest against slavery and the Mexican War, is an eloquent declaration of the principles that make revolution inevitable in times of political dishonor. "Solitude," from his masterpiece, Walden (1854), poetically describes Thoreau's oneness with nature and the companionship solitude offers to those who want to be rid of the travails of the world to discover themselves. "Life without Principle" (posthumously published 1863) decries the way in which excessive devotion to business and money coarsens the fabric of society: in merely making a living, the meaning of life gets lost.
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When I read this book, or rather, the bulk of it, I was under the impression that I did not care for Thoreau's writing. I readthis exception to my rule simply b/c of my interest in political science. It is brilliantly written, and more importantly, the theme rings truer today than ever. Thoreau had the disadvantage, however, of living in a time too near the revolution to make a change. Even if you disagree with his ideology and practice (or ex-practice I should say, as he is quite deceased) this book should be read to strengthen your grounds. It is a beautiful piece of literature and a witty rebellion from government.