Shy U.S. Intellectual Created Playbook Used in a Revolution

Friday, February 18, 2011
By Paul Martin

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
NYTimes.com

BOSTON – Halfway around the world from Tahrir Square in Cairo, an aging American intellectual shuffles about his cluttered brick row house in a working-class neighborhood here. His name is Gene Sharp. Stoop-shouldered and white-haired at 83, he grows orchids, has yet to master the Internet and hardly seems like a dangerous man.
But for the world’s despots, his ideas can be fatal.
Few Americans have heard of Mr. Sharp. But for decades, his practical writings on nonviolent revolution – most notably “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” a 93-page guide to toppling autocrats, available for download in 24 languages – have inspired dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt.

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