Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism

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    L.A. Kauffman

    Publisher: Verso

    Year: 2017

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 257 pages

    ISBN: 9781784784096

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A longtime insider explores the origins of modern protest movements like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, offering a groundbreaking history of disruptive protest and American radicalism since the Sixties

As Americans take to the streets in record numbers, L.A. Kauffman’s timely, trenchant history of protest offers unique insights into how past movements have won victories in times of crisis and backlash and how they can be most effective today.

This deeply researched account, twenty-five years in the making, traces the evolution of disruptive protest since the Sixties to tell a larger story about the reshaping of the American left. Kauffman, a longtime grassroots organizer, examines how movements from ACT UP to Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter have used disruptive tactics to catalyze change despite long odds.

Kauffman’s lively and elegant history is propelled by hundreds of candid interviews conducted over a span of decades. Direct Action showcases the voices of key players in an array of movements—environmentalist, anti-nuclear, anti-apartheid, feminist, LGBTQ, anti-globalization, racial-justice, anti-war, and more—across an era when American politics shifted to the right, and a constellation of decentralized issue- and identity-based movements supplanted the older ideal of a single, unified left.

Now, as protest movements again take on a central and urgent political role, Kauffman’s history offers both striking lessons for the current moment and an unparalleled overview of the landscape of recent activism. Written with nuance and humor, Direct Action is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the protest movements of our time.

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What People Are Saying

“The best overview of how protest works—when it does—and what it’s achieved over the past 50 years.” Rebecca Solnit, The New York Times

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