Most Americans have never heard of him, but the writings of an aging US academic by the name of Gene Sharp have played a key role in nonviolent resistance to government the world over. Sharp, 80, has been slammed by leaders from Iran to Venezuela for his ideas, which have been widely translated and explored by activists in Zimbabwe, Burma, and Russia, to name just a few, the Wall Street Journal reports.
For all this, Sharp leads a humble life with his dog and a single assistant in East Boston. He’s “still a little stunned” by the popularity of his material, crafted through wide-ranging study of nonviolent resistance movements across the globe. Sharp became a researcher at Harvard in the 1970s before founding an institution to explore his passion. His best-known tract presents 198 ways to fight dictatorship, from mock elections to “protest disrobings.”