Review Essay S TAU G H T O N LY N D Civil Disobedience: An American Tradition. By Lewis Perry. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013. Pp. 407. Cloth, $35.00.) At first glance, the front cover of this book seems to be an arbitrary patchwork of blacks and grays. When one looks again, the cover is seen to display the shadow on a sidewalk of a group of persons standing hand in hand to form a human chain. Between its covers the book explores the substance of an American tradition of popular resistance to authority known as ``civil disobedience.'' Viewed in an academic manner, this subject loses some of its vitality. Professor Perry begins his discussion with a heroic effort to overcome that obstacle. He insists that words alone cannot explain all that is meant by ``civil disobedience.'' Is the word ``civil'' intended to indicate that the protagonist is civilized, that is, nonviolent, respectful of antagonists, and prepared to accept punishment by the courts? Must ``disobedience'' be directed against a particular law or policy or may it challenge a more comprehensive orientation, such as expanding slavery or maintaining capitalist control of the workplace? And are there not
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Feb 19, 2015
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