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Hope in the Dark
Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities
Solnit reminds us of how changed the world has been by the activism of the past five decades.

"No writer has better understood the mix of fear and possibility, peril and exuberance that's marked this new millennium."
—Bill McKibben

"An elegant reminder that activist victories are easily forgotten, and that they often come in extremely unexpected, roundabout ways."
The New Yorker

A book as powerful and influential as Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me, her Hope in the Dark was written to counter the despair of radicals at a moment when they were focused on their losses and had turned their back to the victories behind them—and the unimaginable changes soon to come. In it, she makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable. Drawing on her decades of activism and a wide reading of environmental, cultural, and political history, Solnit argued that radicals have a long, neglected history of transformative victories, that the positive consequences of our acts are not always immediately seen, directly knowable, or even measurable, and that pessimism and despair rest on an unwarranted confidence about what is going to happen next. Now, with a moving new introduction explaining how the book came about and a new afterword that helps teach us how to hope and act in our unnerving world, she brings a new illumination to the darkness of 2016 in an unforgettable new edition of this classic book.

Writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of eighteen or so books on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and disaster, including the books Men Explain Things to Me and Hope in the Dark, both also with Haymarket; a trilogy of atlases of American cities; The Faraway Nearby; A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in DisasterA Field Guide to Getting LostWanderlust: A History of Walking; and River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). A product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school, she is a columnist at Harper's and a regular contributor to the Guardian.

Reviews
  • "An elegant reminder that activist victories are easily forgotten, and that they often come in extremely unexpected, roundabout ways."
    The New Yorker

    "No writer has better understood the mix of fear and possibility, peril and exuberance that's marked this new millennium. Rebecca Solnit writes as independently as Orwell; she's a great muralist, a Diego Rivera of words. Literary and progressive America is in a Solnit moment, which given her endless talent should last a very long time."
    —Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and author of Deep Economy

    Hope In the Dark changed my life. During a period of pervasive cynicism and political despair, the first edition of this book provided me with a model for activist engagement that I have held dear ever since. Today, as movements for climate, racial, and economic justice sweep the globe, its message is more relevant than ever. In her inimitable and inspiring way, Solnit reminds us that social change follows an unpredictable path. Despite all the obstacles, we must not lose sight of the fact that profound transformation is possible. This book’s compact size belies its true power. It provides succor and sustenance, fuel and fire, for those fighting for a more just world.”
    —Astra Taylor, author, The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age

    “Rebecca Solnit is a national literary treasure: a passionate, close-to-the-ground reporter with the soul and voice of a philosopher-poet. And, unlike so many who write about the great injustices of this world, she is an optimist, whose faith is deeply grounded in a knowledge of history. This is a book to give you not just hope but zest for the battles ahead.”
    —Adam Hochschild, author, King Leopold’s Ghost

    “Time and again she comes running towards you with a bunch of hopes she has found and picked in the undergrowth of the times we are living. And you remember that hope is not a guarantee for tomorrow, but a detonator of energy for action today.”
    —John Berger, author, Ways of Seeing

    "A slim, potent book penned in the wake of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq; a book that has grown only more relevant and poignant in the decade since."
    —Maria Popova, Brain Pickings


    Praise for earlier editions:

    “Seemingly lost in the woods of deceit and banality, bereft of hope, we are confronted by Rebecca Solnit and her astonishing flashlight. In a jewel of a book that is poetic in substance as well as style, she reveals where we were, where we are and the step-by-step advances that have been made in human rights, as we stubbornly stumble out of the darkness.”
    —Studs Terkel

    “In this inspired meditation on the very nature of action and the reasons one thing leads to another, Rebecca Solnit, with her customary intellectual penetration, freshness of expression, and high elegance, finds new springs of hope in dark times.”
    —Jonathan Schell

    “In this extraordinary book, Rebecca Solnit’s prose grows poetic wings that enable her to soar to a visionary height. The good news that she brings back is that our struggles—with persistence and courage—are indeed the seeds of kindness.”
    —Mike Davis

    “Move over Joan Didion...Solnit is who Susan Sontag might have become if Sontag had never forsaken California for Manhattan.”
    —San Francisco Chronicle

    “Can you imagine a cross between Joan Rivers and Simone de Beauvoir? I didn’t think so, but no likelier hybrid comes to mind.... Solnit is the real activist deal

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Other books by Rebecca Solnit

  • The Mother of All Questions

    Rebecca Solnit’s timely follow-up to her national bestseller Men Explain Things to Me offers a refreshing take on contemporary feminism.
  • Los Hombres Me Explican Cosas

    A landmark essay that went viral, inspired the word “mansplaining,” and prompted fierce arguments.
  • Men Explain Things To Me

    A landmark essay that went viral, inspired the word “mansplaining,” and prompted fierce arguments.