Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals

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Overview

First published in 1971, Rules for Radicals is Saul Alinsky's impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change and know “the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one.” Written in the midst of radical political developments whose direction Alinsky was one of the first to question, this volume exhibits his style at its best. Like Thomas Paine before him, Alinsky was able to combine, both in his person and his writing, the intensity of political ...

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Overview

First published in 1971, Rules for Radicals is Saul Alinsky's impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change and know “the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one.” Written in the midst of radical political developments whose direction Alinsky was one of the first to question, this volume exhibits his style at its best. Like Thomas Paine before him, Alinsky was able to combine, both in his person and his writing, the intensity of political engagement with an absolute insistence on rational political discourse and adherence to the American democratic tradition.

This primers tells the "have-nots" how they can organize to achieve real political power for the practice of true democracy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This country's leading hell-raiser...has set down some of the rules of the game. No one has had more experience or has been more successful at it than Alinsky.” —The Nation

“Alinsky's techniques and teachings influenced generations of community and labor organizers, including the church-based group hiring a young [Barack] Obama to work on Chicago's South Side in the 1980s.... Alinsky impressed a young [Hillary] Clinton, who was growing up in Park Ridge at the time Alinsky was the director of the Industrial Areas Foundation in Chicago.” —Chicago Sun-Times

“Alinsky is that rarity in American life, a superlative organizer, strategist, and tactician who is also a social philosopher.” —Charles E. Silberman

“He cannot be bought; he cannot be intimidated; and he breaks all the rules.” —The Economist (London)

“I consider him to be one of the few really great men of our century.” —Jacques Maritain

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679721130
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/1989
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 34,996
  • Product dimensions: 5.21 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Saul Alinsky was born in Chicago in 1909 and educated first in the streets of that city and then in its university. Graduate work at the University of Chicago in criminology introduced him to the Capone gang, and later to Joliet State Prison, where he studied prison life. 
 
He founded what is known today as the Alinsky ideology and Alinsky concepts of mass organization for power. His work in organizing the poor to fight for their rights as citizens has been internationally recognized. In the late 1930s he organized the Back of the Yards area in Chicago (the neighborhood made famous in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle). Subsequently, through the Industrial Areas Foundation which he began in 1940, Mr. Alinsky and his staff helped to organize communities not only in Chicago but throughout the country. He later turned his attentions to the middle class, creating a training institute for organizers. He died in 1972.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 66 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(15)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 68 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 6, 2009

    A useful primer for understanding the mindset of our new president.

    Every citizen should read this, if he or she is concerned about the direction our political system is going. It provides outstanding insights into the mind-set of the "community organizer", and gives enlightenment into the background and the thinking of our latest president. This is not encouraging, in my view, but it is important to understand. The prescription for change is, in effect, work within the system to destroy the system so that a new (basically undefined) system can emerge from the ashes. The principles are not really "communistic", but more anarchistic or chaotic. It is a sophisticated explanation of the thinking of the radical left, exemplified by SDS, the 60's radicals, the Weathermen, et al. It becomes quite easy to understand the reasons behind the past associations of our president, and the ways in which he has almost wholly absorbed and endorsed Alinsky's views. In my view, Alinsky was a highly-intelligent and shrewd observer of the political and social scene, but suffered from the common disease of all radicals, in seeking to create beauty with the use of ugliness and deceptiveness.

    54 out of 58 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Knowing your enemy

    I bought this only to better understand the present administrations plan and how they maneuver. They are the enemy, and in war, it's good to know the enemy.

    29 out of 49 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    know your enemy

    This book is something I wouldn't dare 2 years ago let in my home let alone in my hands, But let me tell you to defeat the enemy you must know how the enemy thinks and acts. I always say you are never too old to learn. I am a 62 year old Grandmom of 10 I am one of the awakened Giants
    May God bless this great country


    Arizona

    28 out of 44 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    This book is the battle plan for the O Bama administration

    If you are interested in politics, this book is a must read.
    Battle plan is the correct term. This book explains exactly the actions of the O Bama administration. As a professor Barrack O Bama taught this book and established this network of activist for his political network. The tactics of direction and misdirection are all followed with incredible precision.
    The book in detail describes how to prepare and operate as a community organizer, how to redefine and control the communication, and how to use the issues people have to combine them into a force that works for you even against their own issues.
    In general the mechanics are incredible and convincing. I found this book extremely slow read reading, but completely absorbing. This book will open your eyes to the back stage of politics. It will explain how carefully worded speeches can leave every one hearing what they want to hear. The author believes his system is unstoppable.

    23 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2009

    A must-read for Conservatives

    The old adage "keep your friends close, and your enemies closer" is appropriate for this instruction manual, which is a how-to on changing our freedom-loving, democratic republic into a socialistic society. If you believe "A Communist Manifesto" is the Bible of the liberal left, this book is their game plan.

    21 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Obama and Hillary insight

    This average written book outlines how to spread the wealth around, and how to organize the have nots to steal from the halves. If one wants an insight to the socialist (perhaps Marxist) motivation and organizational abilities to the political left, read this book.

    It is scary times we live in and this generational writer is the hero to Obama and Hillary. This makes these times more scary, and motivates the opposition to all things left.

    17 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2009

    Rules for Radicals

    This is an eye opener. It's basically the communists guide to gaining power. It does have some useful things inside though. You will understand freedom's enemy better and be able to defend yourself and the USA from these thugs.

    16 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    No wonder Obama read/taught this.......

    I thought this was a good and interesting read. Alinsky basically advocates a guerrilla approach bordering on pre-terrorism; he uses masses of people (some would say mobs) to achieve results. I consider it pre-terrorism because in the examples he uses the people being opposed usually cave to the masses, most likely out of fear of possible mob revolt and violence (thus it's the FEAR of terrorism that inspires change) more than because they were defeated. Still a good and interesting read, with much to think about.

    15 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2010

    Highly Recommended - A most evil book of lies and societal death!

    The author is one of President Obama's mentors. The author not only dedicated this book to Satan, he does an excellent job explaining how we should destroy America through the same courses of action Obama is taking today!!! An American patriot should read this book to better understand the thinking and planning of an enemy. The author Saul Alinsky was also highly favored by Hilary Clinton. Sort of explains what's happening now.

    11 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2011

    Recomended by Glenn Beck

    Hope everyone out there is brave enough to read this fascinating book...I am a fourteen year old eigth grader and i enjoyed it!

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2004

    I out of all people never thought

    This novel is remarkable it left me with a new idea of how to function in a democracy.Not being a big fan of politics in general this book left my thirsty for more and get active in democracy.

    8 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2012

    A truly great book

    This is the best book I have read in several years. It is as relevant today as it must have been in 1971, a timeless clasic. It is still the best handbook on how to effect positive social change regardless of ones ideology. Do not believe the Glen Beck paranoiacs.

    7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Awesome!

    Basically,

    If you were ever talented and pushed to the side because the system rewards boneheaded rigidity...
    If you were ever a part of a protest...
    If you are interested in strategy...
    If you believe there is, "more than one way to skin a cat."

    ...you'll love this book! be careful--you might get your feelings hurt!

    6 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2011

    U need to read this

    First its dedicacted to satan. Play bok for obama he lectured on this. By any means necessary to achieve thier goals. Must read

    4 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2011

    Interesting Read to look into Obama's thoughts

    I was interested in learning more about the psyche of President Obama as he started his office and what and how his decisions are made and what his purpose is. I was reading another book and it referred Obama's teaching by Saul Alinsky and how President adulated Alinsky and considered him a great teacher.

    I picked up this book...and it clearly lays out number of things. Firstly, Alinsky has a penchant for words and symbolism, and creating one in someone's mind. He understands the meaning behind some controversial words like " power" and he dissects it, and how someone can use that knowledge to communicate his/ her will. He gives a different interpretation of words we use everyday that have negative connotation, but breathes a different life to it.

    The early chapters are dedicated on a noble concept- that we should live with our highest human ideals...and very Marxist utopian feel.
    It later directs the reader how to "create" that utopia and he designs a program that is based on division of classes- "haves' and the Have nots", etc. He also coined is the basis of Obama's work as the "community organizer"...and to wield influence over people, and change their current being, the core fundamental method is 1) speak the same language as the listener;2) create a "base"; 3) create a dialogue; 4) provide empathy, and so on...until the organizer obtains power for wielding his power and will on others. In short, it's a book about how to manipulate in order to obtain a goal. For the intellectual reader or learned, they will question these ideas, but Alinsky writes for his base- which are the "have nots". The later chapters unfold where his ideas come from. His ideas or as he called "tactic rules" are taken out from the Art of War. There is no difference here, but he applies that political and war tactics toward the community organisations. As Alinsky calls life, life is war and therefore, his means are justified by the end result. Anyone who has read the Art of War will clearly know this.

    This book almost is like taking a glimpse into Obama's real thought proces. It's a guide book written just for President Obama. It's an interesting read, I admit.

    4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2012

    Should read before the election.

    This will show the reader the guidelines Obama is using to change the country. Allinsky's rules for Radicals is what Obama taught while a community organizer.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2012

    Tea Party Reviewer

    I just purchased this to have a better understanding of those who want to destroy the USA

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2012

    History book

    There is a clear reason why the far right and republicans hate this book--thet didn't think of its methodology. While the tea baggers have begun to use many of it tactics and adapt aspects of Alinsky's philosophy, they are coming around to the aspect that these teaching methods work. Saul is seen as a leftist hero, like Howard Zinn and Studs Terkel, they speak for the working American. Educate the working American. This book explains how the Everyman builds America and creates a voice for the masses. Should be on every Americans book shelf.

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    Very interesting read

    You can tell who didn't bother even reading the free selection; they're the Chicken Littls flapping about in these reviews crying that the book is dedicated to Satan. The first few prints were but that is no longer the case.

    These sad right wingnuts remind me of the old bush people or jungle dwellers, afraid of shadows and ghosts and praying to anscestors to save them from invisible boogeymen. The author was an atheist jew; his satanic dedication was tongue-in-cheek and referred to Satan as the first rebel. This is known as "humor".

    3 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2011

    Not just for Glenn Beck fans

    No doubt most recent readers of this book do so, as I have at the recommendation of Glenn Beck as a ' know thy enemy' exercise. However, this book was genuinely entertaining. Part of Alinsky's philosophy was that if it isn't fun it probably isn't worth doing. Much of what he had to say is useful to any person of any political philosophy. The main rule seems to be to stay flexible and think outside the box. That is one thing that Alinsky and Beck share, despite being opposites in political philosophy.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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