Q&A: Eyal Press on Beautiful Souls, Nonconformists Who Stand Up to Power

"We think of Germans and how could they have followed orders? In fact, we all follow orders most of the time," says Eyal Press, author of the book Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times.

The book depicts the journeys of ordinary people - a Swiss border guard who broke the law by letting Jewish refugees enter his country during World War Two, an Israeli soldier who refused to serve in the Occupied Territories, and a financial-industry whistleblower - who risk everything to defy authority, groupthink, and the status quo in order to do what's right.

Press talked with Reason TV's Anthony L. Fisher about the lack of a "Hollywood ending" for the brave subjects of his book, and how the notorious Milgram Experiment is not as bleak a depiction of man's tendency to blindly follow cruel orders as it is frequently understood to be.

About 5 minutes.

Produced by Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Jim Epstein.

Scroll below for downloadable versions, and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube Channel to receive immediate updates when new material goes live.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Hit and Run commentors love conformity.

  • sarcasmic||

    I saw this and thought of you.


  • fish||

    What's the Intrade line on whether you're an idiot...or a T o n y grade idiot?

  • Jeff||

    "Free minds" used to mean something here!

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    An apt quote. The Beckerheads are running off the free-thinkers here.

  • Jeff||

    I know, right? And I mean, it's so conformist for people to constantly call you out on all your Obamapologia. I feel your pains, bro.

  • fish||

    So says a man whose reason.com handle links to soros.org. Irony impairment must be a terrible handicap to wrestle with Shreek. Kudos to you for being so brave.

  • $park¥||

    A link to soros.org while at the same time being denigrating to someone who has nothing to do with anything anymore. He's, like, my hero and stuff.

  • fish||

    Was Beck ever a reason.com favorite?

    I can only think of two times Beck even comes up. General mockery from the reason commentariat and Shreeks unrequited love of the guy. If anyone else can think of another instance I'm all ears though.

  • DenverJay||

    What's wrong with Beck Hanson? I think he's a genius http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPfmNxKLDG4

  • Sevo||

    fish| 1.15.13 @ 11:06AM |#
    "So says a man whose reason.com handle links to soros.org. Irony impairment must be a terrible handicap to wrestle with Shreek. Kudos to you for being so brave."

    Shreek is an idiot and proud of it!

  • Sevo||

    Palin's Buttplug| 1.15.13 @ 10:01AM |#
    "Hit and Run commentors love conformity."
    Shreek loves lies. Idiot.

  • An0nB0t||

    I want to disagree...but I can't!

  • ||

    People. Suck.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Luckily, the majority of them are poor and miserable and always will be. So it all works out in the end.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "These are people we have a very easy time idealizing when they're very far away from us, when they say no to other unjust laws, the ones that we don't ourselves comply with. But when people who resist or question or don't conform are closer to us, when we find them in the same workplace we're in or the same neighborhood we're in or in the same country we're in, then it becomes much harder to admire them."

    When they're in the same blog, they're registrationed out. THAT'S RIGHT I'M DISTINGUISHING MYSELF AS THE CHAMPION OF THE PERSECUTED TROLL. Yes, this should allow me to feel superior very nicely.

  • Tim||

    Are you posting stoned again?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It's sobriety that has led me on this dangerous path.

  • Tim||

    "The Milgram Experiment?
    Simpsons did it.

  • Tim||

    It's OK to violate rights and break the law when the President gives you permission.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    He's such a non-conformist!


  • Sevo||

    Whiterun Guard| 1.15.13 @ 10:59AM |#
    "He's such a non-conformist!

    And he's not about to let those horrible rethuglicans get in the way of him saving the world!
    How dare they actually oppose what his excellency intends!

  • KamikazeBullet||

    I'm conforming to my own individuality which makes me the ultimate non-conformist!
    © ®

  • Training Semarang||

    thanks for these info. visit our web on Training Center Semarang.
    please comment to improvement.

    success for you all.


  • شات عراقنا||

    Nicest chat and chat Iraqi entertaining Adject all over the world

  • sohbet||

    super blogs thanks admins
    sohbet odaları

Click here to follow Reason on Instagram


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties