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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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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. ( )
  baobab | Mar 5, 2015 |
Interesting but dry. Provided some interesting background to historical events I had not heard before and insights on the actions on certain groups of people under various social conditions. I would like to read Canetti's book now. A bathroom book that took a while. ( )
  JBreedlove | Mar 5, 2015 |
Amazing to think the man was self taught. Amazing insight presented in clear concise language. Puts all of today's psychobabble to shame. ( )
  zguba | Apr 25, 2014 |
The subtitle says it all in this extended essay from 1951. Dated, perhaps, but it's age is in its favor, as the "Hitler Decade" and world war is just past, Stalin still has his grip, and other socio-political movements are stirring. He makes broad assertions, free of any in depth analysis, and at times is redundant, but I found his thinking overall convincing. ( )
  JamesMScott | Mar 23, 2014 |
Hoffer is a harsh observer of the peculiarities of "the masses" and a cruel psychologist of the "frustrated individual." His insights into the way those two factors together produce mass movements seem realistic, disinterested, and worth serious consideration. ( )
  dmac7 | Jun 17, 2013 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:58 -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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