Paul Rogat Loeb
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Named the #3 political book for
2004 by the History Channel and The American Book Association
One of six books selected for the Sierra
Club reading program
Winner of the Nautilus award for best
social change book
Quality Paperback, One Spirit and Insight/Out book clubs
BookSense bestseller--over 65,000 in print through 17 printings
Buy the book
"Paul Loeb brings hope for a better world in a time when we so urgently need it."
"You are part of what's good about this world and I admire your work
This book can even make one hopeful about the future despite so many signs to the contrary."
"Deeply moving and motivating…a plethora of
commentary from those dedicated to the concept of a better world"—Baltimore Sun
"Hopeful, inspiring, and motivating...May well be required reading for us all."—Sierra Club magazine
"This might possibly be the most important collection of stories and
essays you will ever read."
—from American Book Association and History Channel listing of top ten
2004 political books
"[This] magnificent anthology celebrates hope, guts, and the power of
"For anyone worn down, The Impossible Will Take a Little While is
a bracing double cappuccino!"
"An indispensable anthology of hope and inspiration. It's impossible to feel pessimistic after basking in the collective
wisdom of the likes of Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Marian Wright Edelman, Alice Walker, Tony Kushner and Cornel West (and
that's just for starters!). This book is also Exhibit A in how the political and the personal can come together to change
the world. Put away your Prozac and pick up The Impossible Will Take a Little While"
"A must read"
"A stirring collection of essays aimed at people who still want to
believe that ordinary people can change the world."—Atlanta Journal Constitution
"This inspiring collection is such a song of hope in these difficult times."
"An anthology of some of the most powerful voices of our time."
"A wonderful book, with some extraordinary folks contributing. It
reminds us that darkness always comes before the dawn. We live in a
critical time, in an unpredictable world, but knowing that remarkable
changes occur between night and day gives us unexplainable hope."
— Reg Weaver, president, National
"A much needed salvo against despair."
"Will resonate with anyone struggling with despair and doubt."
—Dallas Morning News
"As I read these stories, I am reminded yet again of the incredible power we have as individuals and the multiplication of
that power when we come together. Thank you for this book of inspiring writing."
THE IMPOSSIBLE WILL TAKE A LITTLE WHILE:
Basic Books $15.95 2004 ISBN 0-465-04166-3
A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear
People need hope more than ever in difficult political times—-like these.
That's why I've created this anthology, mixing my own essays with the
voices of some of the most eloquent writers and activists around. Think
Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, Arundhati Roy, Tony Kushner, and Vaclav Havel. Alice Walker, Jonathan
Kozol, Diane Ackerman, Susan Griffin, and Marian Wright Edelman. Cornel West, Terry Tempest Williams, Jim Hightower, Desmond
Tutu, and Howard Zinn.
I believe readers will draw strength from their ideas on how we keep on working for a more humane world, replenish the
wellsprings of our commitment, and continue no matter how hard it sometimes seems
I've included pieces that explore the historical, political, ecological and spiritual frameworks that help us to persist—
with concrete examples of how people have faced despair and overcome it. Some directly address our current time. Others
examine what it was like to confront South African apartheid, the Eastern European dictatorships, or Mississippi's
entrenched segregation. Still others look at what keeps us going day after day I believe this book will help
us, in the words of Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, to learn how to believe in spite of the evidence,
then watch the evidence change.
See the book's Table of Contents below, or click to read its Introduction, reviews, reading group suggestions, bulk order details,
and information on classroom teaching,
including classroom study questions and examples like a Minnesota Community College that assigned the book in every conceivable discipline, from sociology to health classes and student multimedia projects.
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SECTION ONE: SEEDS OF THE POSSIBLE
Poem: Seamus Heaney—From "The Cure at Troy"
Section One Introduction
Diane Ackerman—"A Slender Thread": Hope and despair in volunteering at a suicide prevention line, by the author of A Natural
History of the Senses
Jonathan Kozol—"Ordinary Resurrections": From the book of the same name, the hope Kozol draws from children
Marian Wright Edelman—"Standing for Children": by the founder of the Children's Defense Fund and author of A Letter to My Children
Danusha Goska—"Political Paralysis": An Indiana activist with a paralyzing physical disability talks about overcoming
political immobilization, drawing on her history working with the Peace Corps and Mother Teresa
SECTION TWO: DARK BEFORE THE DAWN
Poem: W.H. Auden-From "September 1, 1939"
Section Two Introduction
Howard Zinn—"The Optimism of Uncertainty": Drawing strength from the very uncertainty of our efforts, by the author of A
People's History of the United States
Nelson Mandela—"The Dark Years": Memoir of his Robben Island imprisonment from The Long Walk to Freedom
Vaclav Havel—"Orientation of the Heart": The value of seemingly futile actions by Czech president Havel, adapted from his
book, Disturbing the Peace
SECTION THREE: EVERYDAY GRACE
Poems: Wendell Berry—"The Peace of Wild Things" and
Antonio Machado—"Last Night As I Was Sleeping"
Section Three Introduction
Scott Sanders—"Mountain Music": Hope between generations, from "Hunting for Hope"
Rabbi Arthur Waskow—"The Sukkah of Shalom": The Sukkot shelter as a metaphor for hope in a vulnerable world, by the author
of Godwrestling and Seasons of Our Joy
Rose Marie Berger—"Getting Our Gaze Back": Daily respite amid overload, from a contributing editor to the radical
evangelical magazine Sojourners, remembering that "we have more in common with flowers than microchips"
Henri Nouwen—"Fragile and Hidden": Catholic theologian Nouwen on daily grace
Parker Palmer—"There is a Season": The seasons of the earth as metaphor for those of our personal and political life; by the
author of The Courage to Teach and Let Your Life Speak
SECTION FOUR: THE FLIGHT OF OUR DREAMS
Poem: Eduardo Galeano—"Celebration of the Human Voice"
Section Four Introduction
Pablo Neruda—"Childhood and Poetry"
Susan Griffin—"To Love the Marigold": On imagination and hope, by the author of Women and Nature
John Lewis—"Walking With the Wind": Sustaining metaphors from the Congressman and former head of the civil rights group SNCC
(Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee)
Rosemarie Freeney Harding—"Freedom Songs": The music that sustained the civil rights movement
Toni Mirosevich—"Rough Translation": Brief vignette of jazz and resistance in the heart of Soviet Russia
Walter Wink—"Jesus and Alinsky": Jesus as model for legendary community organizer Saul Alinsky
Vern Huffman—"Stories from the Cha Cha Cha": Comic and creative nonviolent resistance in Rhodesia
Sherman Alexie—"Do Not Go Gentle": A story, from the author of The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, about grief,
despair, sexuality, and wild hope that transcends any parties or platforms
Tony Kushner—"Despair Is a Lie We Tell Ourselves": by the author of Angels in America
SECTION FIVE: COURAGE IS CONTAGIOUS
Poem: Marge Piercy—"To Be of Use"
Section Five Introduction
Victoria Safford—"The Small Work in the Great Work": Opening the gates of hope, from a wonderful Unitarian minister
Sister Rosalie Bertell—"In What Do I Place My Trust?": Essay on faith and hope for the environment, by a leading Catholic
Paxus Calta-Star—"Not Deterred": Brief powerful vignette of an 18-year-old who launched the overthrow of Bulgaria's
Jim Hightower—"Rebellion Is What Built America": Lessons in persistence by the Texas populist, from his book Thieves in High
Jim Wallis—"Faith Works": Faith and persistence from Sojourners editor and radical evangelical Wallis
Mary Catherine Bateson—"Composing a Life Story": Courage, intentionality, and radical continuity in the narratives of our
SECTION SIX: THE GLOBAL STAGE
Poem: Martin Espada—"Imagine the Angels of Bread"
Section Six Introduction
Arundhati Roy—"Come September": September 11 and global justice, by the author of The God of Small Things
Ariel Dorfman—"The Black Hole": Recovering the hope of Salvador Allende, by the author of Death and the Maiden
Kenneth Roth—"Hope for Human Rights": From the executive director of Human Rights Watch
Mark Hertsgaard—"The Green Dream": The author of Earth Odyssey and The Eagle's Shadow on global environmental hope
Bill McKibben—"Curitiba": How this Brazilian city has become a global model for development that respects the earth and
delights its inhabitants, by the author of Hope, Human and Wild
SECTION SEVEN: RADICAL DIGNITY
Poems: Adrienne Rich-From "Natural Resources" and Jalaluddin Rumi—"How Have You Spent Your Life?"
Section Seven Introduction
—: The classic text that everyone's heard of but fewer have read
Paul Loeb—"The Real Rosa Parks": My widely reprinted Los Angeles arial essay on Parks and persistence
Cornel West—"Prisoners of Hope": Hope and rage in the African American community
Carla Seaquist—"Behemoth in a Bathrobe": An inner dialogue on conscience, from the Christian Science Monitor
Billy Wayne Sinclair—"Road to Redemption": How Sinclair, who has been in prison for 38 years and co-edited the award-winning
prison publication, The Angolite, helped to stop pardon selling in Louisiana at the cost of remaining another decade in jail
Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall—"Resisting Terror": How nonviolent resistance overthrew murderous dictatorships in Argentina
and Milosovic's Serbia, and even freed the Jewish husbands and wives whose non-Jewish relatives protested in Berlin under
Hitler, from the book A Force More Powerful
SECTION EIGHT: BEYOND HOPE
Poems: Elizabeth Barrette—"Origami Emotion" and Sam Hamill-From "The New York Poem"
Section Eight Introduction
Mary-Wynne Ashford—"Staying the Course": Wrestling with despair by the former president of International Physicians Against
Joanna Macy—"The Elm Tree Dance": Despair and healing ritual in a visit to the city most contaminated by Chernobyl's nuclear
meltdown, by the author of Despair and Empowerment
Nadezhda Mandelstam—"Hoping Against Hope": From her memoir of deportation under Stalin
K.C. Golden—"The Inevitability Trap": Brief take on why we shouldn't succumb to predictions of the inevitable
Sonya Vetra Tinsley, as told to Paul Loeb—"You Have to Pick Your Team"
Margaret Wheatley—"From Hope to Hopelessness": By the author of Turning to Each Other and Leadership and the New Science
SECTION NINE: ONLY JUSTICE CAN STOP A CURSE
Poem: Maya Angelou—"Still I Rise"
Section Nine Introduction
Alice Walker—"Only Justice Can Stop a Curse": The rage that convinces us the world deserves destroying, and how to find the
hope that moves us beyond it
Terry Tempest Williams—"The Clan of One-Breasted Women": Her classic essay on radiation survivors and hope, with a new
introduction, by the author of Refuge
Starhawk—"Next Year in Mas'Ha": Essay on an Arab-Israeli Seder in the occupied West Bank, by the author of Dreaming the Dark
Amos Oz—"The Gruntwork of Peace": Account by the noted Israeli novelist of an Israeli-Palestinian meeting that has produced
a new peace plan as an alternative to despair
Desmond Tutu—"No Future Without Forgiveness": How South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has helped inspire the
world, from Ireland to Rwanda
Send a Message of Hope from The Impossible
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