Steven Pinker Chooses Why Civil Resistance Works as a Best Book of 2011

Why Civil Resistance WorksThe Guardian recently posted its list of the Best Books of 2011 as selected by such notable figures as AS Byatt, Jonathan Franzen, Eric Hobsbawm, Hari Kunzru, Hanif Kureishi, David Lodge Colm Tóibín, David Hare, and Jeanette Winterson.

The Guardian also asked Steven Pinker, most recently the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, who recommended Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan. In commenting on the book, Pinker wrote, “Gandhi was right, not just morally but empirically: nonviolent resistance is three times more effective than violence.”

Pinker also talked about the book in a recent interview with The Economist:

Q: Is there any statistical evidence to suggest that violence doesn’t work to provoke political change?

A study that was published too late to include in my book by two political scientists, Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephen, looked at the success rate of violent and non-violent resistance movements. It found that the non-violent ones succeeded 75% of the time and the violent ones succeeded 25% of the time. So it’s not the case that violence never works, nor that non-violence always works, but that non-violence seems to have a better success rate.

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