What makes a fanatic, a fanatic? And why do mass movements have so much power? Important questions, and The true believer explains all while also giving an insight into the human mind.
That might sound strange as the world has changed drastically in the last centuries, but after you finish The true believer you’ll realise that human psychology has changed very little. This book puts the start of Christianity, the French Revolution, and Soviet Russia in one line and it is completely and utterly correct. The base of these three movements, and so many others, is completely similar!
Hoffer wrote The true believer during the peak of Stalin’s regime, in the ’50’s. And yet his work can be adapted to modern times quite easily. For those who do not understand why extreme-right seems to be on the rise in Europe or why people would ever join IS, this work is compulsory. The true believer dives deep into the human minds, and defines those who are most likely to join a mass movement. Therefore, it gives great insight to the people around us, and the way they think. By doing so, it can teach us how to prevent movements that threaten modern society, but also teach us how to inflict change in a world that has become stagnant on many subjects.
The true believer is a tough read, only 160 pages thick and it might take you a while to take everything in. It is confronting on who we are as humans, and comforting when you realize that everything can be explained and the tension can be defused. A must read for every student who’s trying to make sense of the world around him/her.
The true believer
A stevedore on the San Francisco docks in the 1940s, Hoffer wrote philosophical treatises examining mass movements–from Christianity in its infancy to the national uprisings of modern times. His analysis of the psychology of mass movements is a brilliant and frightening study of the mind of the fanatic.
Eric Hoffer. The true believer / HarperCollins / 9780060505912