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Book: This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the Twenty-first Century by Mark Engler and Paul Engler
Publisher: Nation Books
Publication date: 2016
Source: Purchased the hard copy
Summary: In the 21st century, we’ve seen the call for the ouster of Milošević in Serbia, the Arab Spring, and Black Lives Matter all erupt into large movements that changed how we think about the ways that ordinary people disrupt the status quo and create the conditions for change in institutions that seemed impregnable and rigid. These movements build on previous work by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, but they also make use of modern technologies and techniques. In all cases, nonviolent strategies were employed, not because they are morally superior but because they work. This is an Uprising explores the history and methods of nonviolent movements for change.
Thoughts: As I mentioned in a Sunday post in June, I signed up for an online course called Organizing on the Side of Love to learn about the art and science of community organizing, a way of practicing compassion in groups for a purpose. I completed the course last week, including the textbook, This is an Uprising.
Mostly, This is an Uprising was useful for context. Much of the material felt too big and overwhelming to be useful to the tiny corner of organizing that I’m involved in with the West County Community Action Network. On the other hand, it helped me understand some of the language and concepts that the bigger organizations that we’re partnering with use. It’s also possible that I’m not thinking big enough and that this paragraph and the book will come back to haunt me (in a good way). I’m holding on to my copy to see if its relevance increases in the coming months and years as we continue to push for change in our local institutions so that they act on the premise that black lives matter.
It took me a while to uncover how the authors were related. With a matching and somewhat unusual surname, surely they were. I found my answer in this fascinating behind-the-scenes article written by Paul Engler. Mark and Paul are brothers. The article goes into much more detail than this post about the topics that appear in This is an Uprising and how the interests and experiences of Mark and Paul coalesced into this book.
Appeal: This is an Uprising is being marketed as a book for people involved in social movements, but I think it works as well for people who love books about politics or sociology or 20th-century world history and its impacts.
Have you read this book? What did you think?