Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times

Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times

by Eyal Press
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Overview

Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times by Eyal Press

On the Swiss border with Austria in 1938, a police captain refuses to enforce a law barring Jewish refugees from entering his country. In the Balkans half a century later, a Serb from the war-blasted city of Vukovar defies his superiors in order to save the lives of Croats. At the height of the Second Intifada, a member of Israel's most elite military unit informs his commander he doesn't want to serve in the occupied territories.

Fifty years after Hannah Arendt examined the dynamics of conformity in her seminal account of the Eichmann trial, Beautiful Souls explores the flipside of the banality of evil, mapping out what impels ordinary people to defy the sway of authority and convention. Through the dramatic stories of unlikely resisters who feel the flicker of conscience when thrust into morally compromising situations, Eyal Press shows that the boldest acts of dissent are often carried out not by radicals seeking to overthrow the system but by true believers who cling with unusual fierceness to their convictions. Drawing on groundbreaking research by moral psychologists and neuroscientists, Beautiful Souls culminates with the story of a financial industry whistleblower who loses her job after refusing to sell a toxic product she rightly suspects is being misleadingly advertised. At a time of economic calamity and political unrest, this deeply reported work of narrative journalism examines the choices and dilemmas we all face when our principles collide with the loyalties we harbor and the duties we are expected to fulfill.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374143428
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 02/14/2012
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Eyal Press is an author and journalist based in New York.  His work has appeared in the New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The Raritan Review and numerous other publications.  A 2011 Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation, he is the author of Absolute Convictions, and a past recipient of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism.

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Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sok More than 1 year ago
After Chris Hayes gave it such a great review on his program, I had to read it--he was right! Well written and very interesting. The four individuals written about from different backgrounds, countries and time periods were great examples of how some people choose to apply their values of right and wrong to do the right thing. Even though it is not written from a religious perspective, it still reinforced what I have learned about the saints and/or martyrs from Roman times to the present--Mother Teresa, Damien of Molokai, the Irish Catholics in England, the Catholics during the Jacobin Revolution in France, the martyrs of Nagasaki, slaves in America, Native Americans, The Holocaust and so on. I could especially relate to the last person who stood up to her employer and tried to expose their financial wrongdoings to their investors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
excellent study of frequently ignored issue of what makes ordinary people risk greatly for strangers. Unsettling, thoughtful, hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fresh look at topic
ordinary1 More than 1 year ago
Mr. Press is initially astonished that his subjects are not the rebellious intellectuals he imagined them to be but rather quiet people leading ordinary lives. Why is that Mr. Press? Your comment smacks of elitist snobbery to me. Astonished to actually realize that "ordinary" people have class, decency and ethics? Memo to Eyal Press: "Ordinary" people have far more sense of what's right and wrong than a plethora of warehouses full of "intellectual academics." But I gather that's too hard to comprehend from your throne high up in your ivory tower. Thank God for the "ordinary" people of the world.