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The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of…

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Perennial… (original 1951; edition 2009)

by Eric Hoffer

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Title:The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Perennial Classics)
Authors:Eric Hoffer
Info:Harper Perennial (2009), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

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The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer (1951)



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A pithy philosophical rumination on the nature and qualities of the "true believer." In sum, this is a frustrated individual who seeks to flee his meaningless life, to abjure liberties and find purpose through assimilation into a greater whole. The mission is ultimately less important than the merging into a close collective.

The author shows great wit and wide familiarity with examples of the phenomena he describes. Although writing not long after WWII, he does not limit his examples to Nazis and fascists. Mass movements are all around us. Especially relevant for anyone wanting insights into the popularity of Donald Trump. ( )
1 vote dono421846 | Jun 22, 2017 |
Excellent and timely study of fascism's appeal to the ignorant masses. ( )
1 vote JNSelko | Jun 17, 2017 |
I read this in the fall of 1972, after high school and while most of life's adventure was before me. I had read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and become fascinated with the nature of evil. I was amazed that so many were willing to follow Hitler. I wanted to understand how that could happen to me, and how best to prevent it.

The book was also useful in understanding Christian Cults. At the time, there was a lot of activity and growth in strange offshoots of Christianity. I found it confusing, but after reading this book, I found it less confusing.
1 vote Ponygroom | Dec 17, 2016 |
Wow! What an unexpected gem of a book. Explains why fanatics & true believers are not subject to logic. Not complete - but hits the spot.! Uses Hitler & USSR as examples but explains, at least in part, Pauline Hanson, Timothy McVeigh & Osama bin Laden & the positive role of the Collingwood Football Club. Quote: "The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause." (Section 9.)
Read in Samoa Nov 2002 ( )
1 vote mbmackay | Nov 27, 2015 |
I read this looking for perspective on why people who join ISIS and other groups then do such horrible things. Hoffer's book has something to say about that, but I was struck more by the change in mass movements over time. Hoffer's examples are mostly pulled from the early to mid-20th century (he wrote the book in the early 1950s), so most of the movements are political and/or ideological, not religious, although he does not neglect religious movements in his analysis. The latter part of the book is an argument describing the rise, flourishing and decline of movements from the perspective of the types of figures who are drawn to and take advantage of them. While this is interesting and makes sense, I found it difficult to align with the situation in the Middle East, perhaps because I don't know enough about it. I recommend this book as an analysis of the generic believer in a generic movement. I'll look elsewhere for insights into believers into specific groups like ISIS. ( )
1 vote baobab | Mar 5, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eric Hofferprimary authorall editionscalculated
Apenes, GeorgTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hook, SidneyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrão, SusanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060505915, Paperback)

A stevedore on the San Francisco docks in the 1940s, Eric Hoffer wrote philosophical treatises in his spare time while living in the railroad yards. The True Believer -- the first and most famous of his books -- was made into a bestseller when President Eisenhower cited it during one of the earliest television press conferences.Completely relevant and essential for understanding the world today, The True Believer is a visionary, highly provocative look into the mind of the fanatic and a penetrating study of how an individual becomes one.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:32 -0400)

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Discusses the appeal of mass movements, types of potential converts, factors promoting self-sacrifice and good & bad mass movements.

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