Are there any examples of literature changing the course of history, such as books or essays that made people fight for freedom, other than those written by Václav Havel, either positive or negative?

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    Seems subjective. – Semaphore Dec 3 '15 at 18:27
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    Subjective, list based, non bounded. Likely to result in more argument than clarity. Did Gutenberg's Bible change the world? King James Bible? Uncle Tom's Cabin? The Declaration of Independence? The Communist Manifesto? The Protocols of the Elders of Zion? (False, but changed history)? The French Revolution generated incalculable amount of text that the authors thought was literature. – Mark C. Wallace Dec 3 '15 at 19:01
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    @MarkC.Wallace: Clarity, what clarity? People will argue about anything. Anything at all. That's how we're made. You're already arguing. Goodness. It's a legitimate question. – Ricky Dec 3 '15 at 19:50
  • "legitimate question" is determined by how many people vote to close. H:SE is not for debate, discussion or argument.How to Ask states that questions should not be subjective, opinion-based, open ended nor should they admit a multitude of correct answers. There are community standards here and a process by which we enforce those standards (including close votes). – Mark C. Wallace Dec 3 '15 at 19:56
  • I agree it should be closed, but not exactly for the reasons given. I think the question is far too broad and would inevitably lead to a long list (as Mark C. Wallace clearly illustrated). Opinion could be limited by refining the question, and there is documented evidence in many cases for how literature changed the way people thought and acted. – Lars Bosteen Sep 6 '17 at 23:23

But of course.

When passions run high because life sucks, someone needs to sit down and try to define the grievances in order for those who are upset to make sense of what they're upset about.

Thomas Pain is the author of Common Sense, the book that inspired the American Revolution.

Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote a whole bunch of stuff that the French revolutionaries took to heart.

Karl Marx is guilty of publishing The Communist Manifesto that caused so much havoc in the industrial world.

And Abraham Lincoln all but accused the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin of the perils that befell the country in the 1860's by saying, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!"

Which is to say ideas that cause people to fight need to be formulated first. Folks always need an excuse, a means of telling the bad guys from the good guys. Only Porthos the musketeer said "I am going to fight--because I am going to fight," but he was, of course, lying.

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  • OK. Will be looking forward to your return. All the best and see you soon. – Rathony Dec 9 '16 at 10:07
  • Likewise, dude! – Ricky Dec 9 '16 at 13:31

Ricky gave a nice selection but let me add a few items:

The Bible. Quran. Mein Kampf. Das Kapital (actually more influential than Communist Manifesto, though few people read it:-)

Actually there is a book called "100 most influential people in history". http://www.dlmark.net/hundred.htm

Most of these people influenced history through certain books. The list begins with:

Mohammed (Quran)

Newton (Principia Mathematica)

Then go J. Christ, Budda and Confucius (the first did not write any books, about the last two I am not sure), followed by

St. Paul (parts of the New testament)

and so on. I do not say that I agree with this book selection, especially with the ordering of the 100, but there is something in it. They changed the course of history, indeed. Certainly the books of Newton and Maxwell caused dramatic changes in history, but this is very difficult to compare with the impact of the Bible, Confucius, and the books of Voltaire.

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