SUBJECT: Antidotes to Despair: The Impossible Will Take a While and Soul of a Citizen--Paul Loeb's bestselling citizen engagement books

"Paul Loeb brings hope for a better world in a time when we so urgently need it."--Millard Fuller, founder Habitat for Humanity

“Might possibly be the most important collection of stories and essays you will ever read." --American Book Association & History Channel

"Hopeful, inspiring and motivating...May well be required reading for us all." -- Sierra Club Magazine

“When my daughter asked from college how to be an effective grassroots citizen, I gave her Paul's books.”--Josette Sheeran, former Executive Director, United Nations World Food Program

How do we keep working for change in these difficult times, and overcome political demoralization?  How have the leaders and unsung heroes of world-changing movements persevered in the face of doubt, fear, and seemingly overwhelming odds?  In The Impossible Will Take a Little While, they tell us in their own words. After 22 printings, editor Paul Rogat Loeb has comprehensively updated this classic collection of voices on what it’s like to go up against Goliath, adding visionary new pieces, updating existing ones, and writing new introductory reflections. These stories don't sugarcoat the obstacles. But they inspire hope by showing what keeps us keeping on.

The Impossible creates a conversation among some of the most visionary and eloquent voices of our times--or any time: Contributors include Maya Angelou, Diane Ackerman, Marian Wright Edelman, Wael Ghonim, Václav Havel, Paul Hawken, Seamus Heaney, Jonathan Kozol, Tony Kushner, Audre Lorde, Nelson Mandela, Bill McKibben, Bill Moyers, Pablo Neruda, Mary Pipher, Arundhati Roy, Dan Savage, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Cornel West, Terry Tempest Williams, and Howard Zinn.  

The Impossible brings together the voices of these eloquent writers and activists to talk about how we replenish the wells of commitment, exploring what keeps us going as we work for a more humane world. Loeb explores 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 address our current political time, from memoirs of the Arab Spring to dispatches from the frontlines of the battle to stop global warming. Others examine how people persisted in past struggles that could easily have been deemed unwinnable: what it was like to confront South African apartheid, Eastern European dictatorships, Mississippi’s entrenched segregation, the bigotry that kept gays silent and closeted, or the economic greed that America’s populists and progressives challenged a hundred years ago and showed us how to challenge today.

Click to see larger image  

A few years ago Paul also comprehensively updated his classic Soul of a Citizen. With 150,000 copies in print, Soul has become a classic handbook for budding activists, veteran organizers, and anyone who wants to make their voices heard and actions count. It’s inspired thousands of citizens as an antidote to powerlessness and despair. Soul's updated edition explores how ordinary citizens can act and keep on acting even if we may wonder whether our actions really matter. It explores how we can get involved and get others involved in critical causes; how to help people get past the obstacles; what we can learn from citizen movements of the past; and, how to maintain our commitments for the long haul and avoid burning out in exhaustion or frustration. Soul explores what it's like to go up against Goliath, and keep on even when the odds seem overwhelming.

Both books are getting powerful responses. We hope you’ll buy them for yourself to sustain your spirits or as a gift to your friends (Soul is 16.95 paperback, The Impossible $18.99). If you work with community or social change organizations, buy them in bulk or use them for reading groups, with relevant questions online (both The Impossible and Soul of a Citizen are great for motivating staff and volunteers to keep on with their critical work). Tell faculty who might teach them in courses, since both Soul and The Impossible have been assigned at hundreds of colleges and have online classroom questions available. Forward this email wherever possible. Visit Paul’s website to find excerpts, reviews, reading group questions, information on classroom use, and multiple other ways to pass the word.




"A much needed salvo against despair." -- Psychology Today

"Deeply moving and motivating… a retinue to be reckoned with; a plethora of commentary from those dedicated to the concept of a better world"--Baltimore Sun

  "For anyone worn down, The Impossible is a bracing double cappuccino!"--Barbara Ehrenreich

"An anthology of some of the most powerful voices of our time."--Boston Globe

"[This] magnificent anthology celebrates hope, guts, and the power of taking action.--Pam Houston, The Oprah Magazine, lead review

"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"--Arianna Huffington

"An extremely important effort." --John Kenneth Galbraith

"A must read"--Teaching Tolerance

"Will resonate with anyone struggling with despair and doubt."--Dallas Morning News

"A stirring collection of essays aimed at people who still want to believe that ordinary people can change the world."--Atlanta Journal Constitution


“I stayed up half the night reading Soul of a Citizen, finding it a beautiful and morally transcendent work. Paul Loeb is a personal hero of mine who gives decency and generosity a political character, in the humblest of ways. The new edition is magnificent.”—Jonathan Kozol

“Rich, engaging, clearly written. An essential book for anyone who wants to work for change. It will inspire people new to activism, and deals with cynicism and burn­out in a good way for movement veterans. Altogether, a wonderful job, rich with specific experience.”—Howard Zinn

"The voices Loeb finds demonstrate that courage can be another name for love."—Alice Walker

Soul of a Citizen helps us find the faith we need to act on our deepest beliefs—and keep on.”—Marian Wright Edelman, president, The Children’s Defense Fund

Soul has been a powerful inspiration to citizens acting for environmental sanity, showing how they can take committed stands, even if they don’t know every last answer. The new edition is even more inspirational.”—Bill McKibben

“ To really, truly understand why it’s important for us all to stand up and act, and how to do it, read the new updated edition of Soul of a Citizen, an activist classic that belongs on the shelf right next to Saul Alinsky.” —Thom Hartmann   

“A passionate but reasoned call for Americans to become involved in issues that matter.”—Chicago Sun-Times

"Soul of a Citizen has been a powerful resource to get thousands of students involved in their communities, giving them the opportunity to apply their learning in meaningful ways.  This updated edition is both timely and exceptionally useful to campuses that want to reclaim higher education’s central role in educating responsible, democratic citizens."—Carol Geary Schneider, President, American Association of Colleges & Universities

“A highly personable story of integrity and commitment that reminds all of us that we have often-unrealized abilities to live lives worthy of our convictions.”—Steelabor, United Steelworkers

“As he tells the stories of ordinary people who became activists, Loeb examines the stumbling blocks—perceived powerlessness, cynicism, burnout—that keep most Americans from participating in the public sphere, as well as the rewards of following a different path." —Sierra Club magazine

 “Brims with stirring stories of everyday heroes who saw something wrong, heeded the voice of their conscience, gathered support and, acting in concert with others, changed things and made a difference.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

“Thoughtful and encouraging, Loeb offers a rich spirituality of citizenship for both experienced activists and those just wondering where to begin.” —Jim Wallis, editor, Sojourners

“Examines the psychology and spirituality of community involvement, recounting numerous true stories of how ordinary citizens produced significant social change.”
 —Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  “Should be mandatory reading for anyone over the age of 12—especially every woman or man who has traded ‘I give a damn’ for  ‘I give up.’”—San Francisco Chronicle


 To buy Soul of a Citizen or The Impossible Will Take a Little While click here.
To sign up for Paul’s email list or Facebook page click here.  And please do pass this flier to friends.