American Writer Inspires Mideast Protest Movements

Thursday, 17 Feb 2011 01:26 PM

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Leaders of the Middle East revolts drew tactics and strategy from an aging American intellectual who lives quietly in Boston, grows orchids and can barely operate e-mail, The New York Times reports.

Gene Sharp, 83, isn’t widely known in his own country, but his writings and ideas have contributed to national reform movements around the world including the popular uprisings that toppled governments in Egypt and Tunisia.

gene sharp
Gene Sharp
Dissidents credit some of their successes to a pair of Sharp treatises, “From Dictatorship to Democracy” and “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action,” both of which are available free online, although Sharp himself doesn’t use the Internet.

“He is generally considered the father of the whole field of the study of strategic nonviolent action,” said Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco.

Sharp’s past includes nine months in prison for refusing to serve in the Korean War but today he says he outgrew pacifism long ago and now considers himself “trans-partisan.”

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