Title: Standing Up to the Madness
Author: Amy Goodman & David Goodman
Genre: Nonfiction / politics
Rating: 3.5 / 5
In this book, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! (and her brother) tell the stories of people taking a stand on crucial political issues, often against a huge well-oiled machine. For instance, some of the stories covered are a couple of public librarians against the FBI and a few low ranking Marines taking on the military industrial complex. Not only do the authors interview these “ordinary heroes,” but they give a good amount of information on the political backdrop the actions took place in; we don’t just hear about how activists in New Orleans are fighting for the poor black neighborhoods there, we get to hear about how the Bush administration totally dropped the ball on the Hurricane Katrina situation and the ugliness of the political aftermath. The stories are interspersed with shorter, similar stands from yesteryear, like Rosa Parks and Daniel Ellsberg.
This book was published about seven years ago, at a time when I was kind of taking a break from the news and politics. So although I had heard about some of these stories, there was a lot of new information here. The essays managed to convey a lot of information without getting bogged down in it. Each essay is fairly quick, and each one deals with a different subject, so it stays pretty fresh. I know reading hundreds of pages on one political subject can be daunting, even if one is interested in the subject, and this book avoids that problem entirely. The common thread is of course injustice (the “madness” that is being stood up to), but all the stories show a different facet.
The writing itself could be somewhat corny at times, but in a charming way (“But as the Bush administration was about to learn, these librarians were not going to be so easily ‘shushed’”). Also, despite being ostensibly inspiring stories about people standing up and being successful, some of the resolutions were still heartbreaking to me—for instance, in the case of the Jena Six.
I would like to see a book like this published regularly, maybe twice a year: there is so much going on and although people do stand up to injustice, a lot of times those stories aren’t told enough. It is easy to feel hopeless. As was mentioned in the book, it can be very lonely and even dangerous to make a principled stand. Hearing about people doing it, and being even moderately successful, is heartening.