The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

Paperback | January 19, 2010

byEric Hoffer

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“[Eric Hoffer] is a student of extraordinary perception and insight. The range of his reading and research is vast, amazing. [The True Believer is] one of the most provocative books of our immediate day.”—Christian Science Monitor

The famous bestseller with “concise insight into what drives the mind of the fanatic and the dynamics of a mass movement” (Wall St. Journal) by Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Eric Hoffer, The True Believer is a landmark in the field of social psychology, and even more relevant today than ever before in history. Called a “brilliant and original inquiry” and “a genuine contribution to our social thought” by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The True Believer is mandatory reading for anyone interested in the machinations by which an individual becomes a fanatic.

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“[Eric Hoffer] is a student of extraordinary perception and insight. The range of his reading and research is vast, amazing. [The True Believer is] one of the most provocative books of our immediate day.”—Christian Science Monitor The famous bestseller with “concise insight into what drives the mind of the fanatic and the dynamics of a...

From the Jacket

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.Complet...

Eric Hoffer (1902 -- 1983) was self-educated. He worked in restaurants, as a migrant fieldworker, and as a gold prospector. After Pearl Harbor, he worked as a longshoreman in San Francisco for twenty-five years. The author of more than ten books, includingThe Passionate State of Mind, The Ordeal of Change, andThe Temper of Our Time,Eri...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.43 inPublished:January 19, 2010Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0060505915

ISBN - 13:9780060505912

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Customer Reviews of The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from AUTHOR OPERATES WITH PHILOSOPHICAL STATEMENTS I had difficulty to gain traction in Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. I felt bombarded by wisdoms and common sense sayings that, so I thought, defy an approach to a pressing issue that could not be of less importance today than at the time of the book’s writing, 60 years ago. After reading through a bit, I had to revisit the cover: Thoughts on the nature of mass movements. The book delivers on its promise: Thoughts are exactly what you get, rather than a systematic analysis. The author himself points out that he does not aim at authority but rather at provoking questions. Hoffer penned his book under the impression of two world wars and the Great Depression, a time of upheaval that shaped modern society. He also represents a point of view of an American, living in a supreme societal system that seems beyond criticism. As such, the author writes under the ABSENCE of mass movements on his home turf. In his own sense, I feel that Hoffer is a true believer. His essential thesis goes something like this: Hey, I am a free American and superior to people of other nations. If you are a true believer, you have surrendered your individuality to the collective multitude. You are eternally incomplete and insecure. As much as I like and want to agree to what he says, I cannot trust neither his analysis nor his conclusions. Some of it, yes, but maybe only because I wish his wisdoms to be true. Here is an example of what I am trying to say: “The most dangerous moment for the regime of the Politburo will be when a considerable improvement in the economic conditions of the Russian masses has been achieved and the iron totalitarian rule somewhat relaxed. It is of interest that the assassination, in December 1934, of Stalin’s close friend Kirov happened not long after Stalin had announced the successful end of the first Five-Year Plan and the beginning of a new prosperous, joyous era.” The author operates with philosophical statements, which he backs up with unsubstantiated historic analogies. The coincidence does not necessarily confirm or refute the thesis. How that contributes to the knowledge of (religious or political) mass movements, is beyond me. However, I suppose that with this logic, I should be inclined to nod off on the concept that regimes are most volatile when the economy improves. Writing under such impressions as the fall of the Berlin Wall, of Desert Storm, of the Arab Spring that keeps on rocking the entire Middle East, and of my own research on the history of the three Judaic mass religions (see The Great Leap-Fraud – Social Economics of Religious Terrorism), it seems that the target itself is utterly volatile. I could probably make the opposite case that the most dangerous moments of regimes are when economic conditions deteriorate. This would prepare societies for CHANGE (read: Obama’s presidential race on undefined change) when longing for hope. Or, maybe I could create a thesis that mass movements are dependent on large economic disparities between regions. I would back it up with the argument that the poor man is not necessarily an unhappy man unless he is faced with the perception of a better alternative. Where I disagree with him most is that religion begins as mass movements. The Gospel itself explains that there remained very few believers after Jesus’s (fictional) death. History quite clearly backs up the case that religion is a very, very slow moving target that starts out by multiplying itself through the web of extended families in a process that takes generations. Hoffer borrows from the Gospel, when he proclaims that all mass movements must focus on the future and depreciate the present. Yet, by doing so, he merely states the obvious. What else would a mass movement focus on other than on the promise of a better future at the cost of rejecting (at least some of) the present? Anyone? For a more insightful read backed up with primary evidence check out the Great Leap-Fraud. You will not be disappointed.
Date published: 2011-08-23

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“He is a student of extraordinary perception and insight.The range of his reading and research is vast, amazing.He has written one of the most provocative books of our immediate day.” (--Christian Science Monitor)