Reviews

“Absorbing… Ambitious… Indispensable. A genuine gift to social movements everywhere.” —Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine

“For all those who dare to dream that truly transformational, even revolutionary change might be possible here in America in our lifetimes (but who wonder what strategies or tactics could possibly achieve a monumental shift in consciousness), this book is for you. We have more power than we realize, and the compelling stories of nonviolent movements around the world told here have much to teach us about how we can use our power wisely.” —Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow

“This is a landmark book—not merely a history of nonviolent resistance, but a distillation of a few key concepts. ‘Momentum-based organizing’ puts a name on something that many of us had dimly intuited. It’s a powerful method for making real change fast. And real change fast is in fact what our world requires.” —Bill McKibben, author and co-founder of 350.org

“Mark and Paul Engler have compiled a true masterpiece on the history, logic, ethics, and power of nonviolent action…. Sure to inform and inspire for generations to come.” —Erica Chenoweth, co-author of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

“[An] important analysis of nonviolent strategy.” —Tina Rosenberg, The New York Times

“A detailed, nuanced, comprehensive, well-written, and wise strategy book that focuses on the work of some of the most thoughtful organizers and theorists of nonviolent civil resistance… Frankly, this is the best book I have read in decades that explores the strengths and limits of nonviolent rebellion, and how it can be productively integrated with other organizing traditions in effective ways.” —Steve Chase, Friends Journal

“Mark and Paul Engler’s This Is an Uprising is an essential resource for anyone interested in the strategies of nonviolent organizing. It is a thoughtful, well-researched, and compelling document in which the authors argue convincingly not only for the effectiveness of nonviolence resistance, but also for the need to integrate lessons taken from movements from vastly different political and social terrains.” —Molly Larkey, Los Angeles Review of Books

“This book is certain to become a seminal text…. [The authors] brilliantly illuminate the debates between advocates of mass mobilization, organization building, nonviolence, and disruption. Mark and Paul Engler have constructed a new intellectual platform to advance our understanding of these strategic dilemmas.” —Frances Fox Piven, author of Challenging Authority and Poor People’s Movements

“If you want to understand the social movements that are erupting all around us, you should be reading the Englers. Their writing is a revelation.” —Andy Bichlbaum, The Yes Men

“Simply outstanding. The success or failure of future campaigns for peace and justice could depend on how many people read this book. Yes, it’s that good.” —Stephen Zunes, University of San Francisco

“This is truly an important work. The moments and movements that drive societal change have remained elusive and misunderstood by most, whether pundits, activists, or everyday people consuming the news. In This is an Uprising, Mark and Paul Engler brilliantly unearth, explain, and contextualize the dynamics of breakout mobilizations–both dispelling the popular notion that transformational progress simply arises from historical circumstance, and pushing back on long-held dogma that hinders more successful engineering of people-driven campaigns. For all those who seek to play an effective role in creating social or political change in the modern era, the Englers’ book is a must read.” —James Rucker, cofounder of ColorOfChange.org and Citizen Engagement Lab

“An indispensable study guide.” Grid Magazine

“This book tells the stories of the mass movements that have made our world and continue to change it, and it tells them with excitement, insight, and hope like few have told them before. Mark and Paul Engler’s invaluable book comes at a great time for all of us who want to know how the labor movement’s on-going work of building lasting change can draw inspiration from the explosive uprisings that have captured the public imagination. Reading this book, we can recognize that those storms aren’t freak events. They come from a method of organizing with powerful lessons and a moving history. This is important reading for our members, organizers, leaders, and allies.” —Maria Elena Durazo, international union vice president for civil rights, diversity, and immigration, UNITE HERE!

“Mark Engler and Paul Engler haven’t written a predictable book. The brothers have spent considerable time studying—and participating in—social movements, and their deep curiosity lends a propulsive feel to This Is An Uprising. The book careens around the globe, diving into campaigns and surfacing to offer fresh and often surprising lessons, even when examining well-known events…. The world is already messy and chaotic; social movements make it more so. And so a book like This Is an Uprising—crisply written, rigorous, blessedly free of cliches—is long overdue…. [It provides] a set of theoretical frameworks for thinking about the strategies and tactics used by nonviolent movements, grounded in a diverse collection of real world examples…. For anyone interested in the dynamics of nonviolent social change, either as a participant or student, This Is an Uprising shouldn’t be missed.” —Gabriel Thompson, Truthdig

“The year 2017 is off the election cycle so the political action is likely to move into the streets. That’s why… I’m reading This Is an Uprising, by writer Mark Engler and his activist brother Paul. The book is a deeply informative history of direct action, from Martin Luther King Jr.’s groundbreaking Birmingham, Ala., campaign in 1963 to Occupy, the Arab Spring, and Black Lives Matter.” —David Talbot, The San Francisco Chronicle

“If you’ve ever wanted to know how nonviolent social movements get started, what makes them succeed, and what causes them to fail, then Mark and Paul Engler’s This Is an Uprising is the perfect read for you…. Both a collection of inspiring true stories about the world’s most influential movements and a practical guide to using nonviolence as a method of political and social change, This Is an Uprising shows readers how transformation really happens, and how you can help.” Sadie Trombetta, Bustle 

“This book is the Rules for Radicals for a new generation. Mark and Paul Engler have written a defining work on the science of popular movements… A must-read for everyone fighting the battle for justice in this world.” —Carlos Saavedra, lead trainer, Ayni Institute and former National Coordinator of United We Dream

“I love this book. The Englers have written fresh and exciting addition to the literature of social movements, a page-turner that is both hopeful and practical. A diversity of readers will recognize moments from their own experience in the stories, which powerfully show what is effective and what isn’t in making major change. We all need to read this now.” —George Lakey, author, activist, and founder of Training for Change

“This incredible book gives us the tools we need both to understand this watershed moment in history and to chart a course toward a transformed future. Movement wildfires are starting all around the world. This work connects them in a way that is both inspirational and informational. I believe that we will win, and this book told me how we have before.” —Umi Selah (formerly known as Phillip Agnew), mission director, the Dream Defenders

“This book could not have arrived at a more critical time. We are at a pivotal moment in history as climate justice, economic justice, racial justice, and immigrant justice movements are building people power with the ability to win…. I encourage movement builders to not only read this book, but to read it over and over. The relevance of its lessons in today’s world cannot be overstated.” —Paulina Gonzalez, organizer and executive director, California Reinvestment Coalition

“A new book that should help us rethink our lives… [C]ouldn’t recommend it more strongly.” —Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

“I am impressed and moved by the work that Paul and Mark Engler have done with this book…. Basically, reading This is an Uprising feels like meeting a new friend that feels like an old friend I already deeply love. The Engler brothers offer a sophisticated synthesis of history lessons and theoretical strands that come together to create an illuminating case for strategic nonviolence and what they have dubbed ‘momentum driven organizing’…. [T]heir central thesis: that successful social movements are neither born of seemingly spontaneous insurrection or slow, steady incremental base-building, but a merger of the best of both. Wow–Yes, more of this, please.” —Doyle Canning, Center for Story-based Strategy

“​The promises and pitfalls of ‘people power’, or nonviolent uprisings, have been a prominent topic of discussion in the wake of the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011 and in the face of recent movements against inequality in the US and elsewhere. In This is an Uprising, Engler & Engler carefully arrange the complex pieces of the puzzle that comprise a nonviolent movement, drawing from a range of campaigns as diverse as the US LGBT movement, the anti-Milosevic uprising in Serbia, Gandhi’s campaign against British occupation, and man​​​y more. By linking social movement theory to the Gene Sharp-inspired tradition of civil resistance scholarship, the authors touch on a range of issues that are certain to be of value to those most in need of such a timely work of scholarship – activists throughout the globe. In their impressive analysis and practically step-by-step account of what it takes for movements to instill change, the authors highlight the critical strategic undertones of otherwise seemingly spontaneous uprisings.” —Pauline Moore, Journal of Peace Research

“Well-structured and engaging… The history and key ideas of nonviolent revolt are distilled into an essential guide to the most effective strategies for creating lasting social change. This is a book that is likely to be read and reread for years to come.” —Sara Catterall, Shelf Awareness

“Extraordinary… The ultimate book club book.” —Tim Danahey, radio host, The Tim Danahey Show

“Mark Engler and Paul Engler have studied mass movements around the world for some time. Their new book, This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century, offers an ambitious, sweeping analysis of how uprisings do and do not bring progressive change…. On issue after issue—immigrant rights, gay marriage, police shootings, protests against nuclear power to name but a few—the Englers show how and why mass protest prevailed over electoral politics. This is one of the many reasons why This is an Uprising is a worthwhile read for all activists, and a strong choice for book clubs and all those eager to debate how best to achieve social change.” —Randy Shaw, Beyond Chron

“The new book This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century by Mark Engler and Paul Engler is a terrific survey of direct action strategies, bringing out many of the strengths and weaknesses of activist efforts to effect major change in the United States and around the world since well before the twenty-first century. It should be taught in every level of our schools.” David Swanson, Let’s Try Democracy

“In this thorough and authoritative book, Mark and Paul Engler take the reader on a globe-spanning tour of the history and present state of nonviolent protest, its tactics, successes and failures, and the prognosis for its future. Beginning with Martin Luther King Jr in 1963 and the Birmingham and Selma desegregation campaigns, their account takes in Gandhi’s Salt March, the Otpor movement in Serbia, the Occupy campaign, and the Arab Spring among many others…. Time and again the authors show how seemingly powerless and marginal people can, though civil resistance, organize, confront, disrupt, and, given favorable circumstances, overthrow overweening power. As Mark and Paul Engler righly say: ‘the potential for what can happen when people refuse to obey must be constantly learned anew.’ Both as a primer on the theory of nonviolent protest and as a practical guide to positive action, their book is an invaluable resource in the ongoing learning process.” —Peter Whittaker, New Internationalist

“I picked up [This Is An Uprising], and within minutes I was engrossed… Two hundred and fifty pages later, I came up for air…. [The Englers] argue, persuasively, that… uprisings that use nonviolent confrontation have changed the world. And they have done it with such passion, intensity, and page-turning storytelling, that I had barely been able to put the book down.” —Ellen Michaud, QuakerBooks

“Born teachers, [the Englers] show rather than tell. They show how momentum can work by sharing vivid glimpses from movements and campaigns as various as the DREAMers, Occupy Wall Street, ACT-UP, the Birmingham civil rights campaign, the Harvard 2001 student sit-in for a liveable wage, the LGBT movement, Tahrir Square and the campaign against Egypt’s dictatorship, the overthrow of Serbia’s dictator Slobodan Milosevic, and others… I’ve rarely seen movements described so intimately at their strategic turning points, supported with the comparative insights of scholars in the field. Reading the gripping stories alone makes the book worthwhile.”Waging Nonviolence

“The authors dig deep into the history of nonviolent protest in this highly readable and well-organized title… Readers will be inspired by the prescient quotes from activists and organizers that the Englers share, all ringing with timeless truths… Anyone who doubts that community organizing is a significant part of the social fabric will find such assumptions dispelled by this intriguing and illuminating overview.” —Booklist

“A cleareyed, enthusiastic treatise, seeing evidence in diverse historical and recent events that collective civil actions are supplanting violent rebellions in creating social change. At the outset, [the Englers] wonder, ‘what if periods of mass, spontaneous uprising are neither as spontaneous nor as unbridled as they might at first appear?’ They build their response around a number of longitudinal real-world examples…producing a clearly organized mix of history and handbook. … A usefully organized, concise history of social movements that will appeal to newer generations of activists.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Especially timely in the wake of protests across the United States, this book offers insight into how far we’ve come as a country and how much further we have to go.” —Library Journal

“Movements for change are unpopular. They’re disruptive and discomforting, and they face seemingly impossible odds against the institutions that seem to have all the power. Yet, as Mark and Paul Engler outline in their outstanding and important new book, they often win…. Understanding how structure-based [organizations] and mass mobilizations can work together is a good antidote against the disillusionment, burnout, and sectarianism that often follows the waning of mass movements. And it offers the thrilling possibility that we can plan, create, and train for mass mobilizations, rather than just wait for them to ‘erupt.’” Laura Tanenbaum, Democratic Left

“Brilliant… Everyone interested in politics and political movements needs to read This Is An Uprising.” —Nomiki Konst, SiriusXM Radio

“The Engler brothers do a masterful job of weaving riveting stories with social change theory to create a book that is both engaging and informative. I hope many people will read this book, which shows what ordinary people can accomplish when they work creatively, boldly, and together.” Eileen Flanagan, author of Renewable

“This exceptional book by two outstanding social activists has somehow managed to fuse artful story-telling, weighted social analysis, leadership know-how, together with a model of movement to gift us with a viable vision of a world that we can all live in. A compelling read.” Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways and founder of 100Movements

This is an Uprising is an analysis of social change, how it has occurred, and how contemporary campaigners may make it occur again. It is being widely read and discussed among Australian climate activists. Using various 20th century case studies, including Martin Luther King’s civil rights campaign in Birmingham, the overthrow of Milosevic in Serbia, the marriage equality campaign, the Arab Spring and climate activism, the authors contrast different approaches to social change and identify the critical role of nonviolent civil resistance. In doing so they aim to draw out lessons and ideas that might be generalised and applied by contemporary campaigners…. This is an Uprising has great value in its detailed discussion of civil resistance and strategy for change…. The book is a highly useful tool for social change activists. At a time when Australian civil society is confronting seemingly intractable social problems, This is an Uprising not only identifies possible ways forward, but offers useful context and guidance for how this way might be navigated.” —Joel Dignam, Movements at the Station

“[This Is an Uprising] explores the resources and methodologies that make nonviolent protest an effective tool. It is a well-researched and engrossing text that breaks down exactly why public mobilization, demonstrations, and civil disobedience can take down corrupt government leaders and bring an end to discrimination.” —Karris Golden, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

“Anyone who is currently involved in the movement for Black lives and/or climate change struggles is likely to find this book provoking, inspiring, and exciting… [The book] delves into the dynamics of strategic nonviolence with skill and insight. Using it, a reader can begin to think strategically, rather than magically or fatalistically, about the movements they care about.” —Betsy Raasch-Gilman, Training for Change

“Impressively well written, organized, and presented, This Is an Uprising is a compelling and heartening read from beginning to end and should be a part of every community and academic library.” Midwest Book Review

“Mark and Paul Engler have written a very important book…. Indeed, anyone who is working with a group of people, no matter how small or large, which is serious about defending their rights, changing oppressive conditions, achieving justice or saving our seriously endangered environment would benefit from studying [it].”—Ted Glick, ZNet

“A clear, nuanced, and illuminative analysis of ‘nonviolent resistance’ as a tool for social change — both as it’s been theorized and as it’s been practiced, and as it continues to evolve. The authors do an excellent job of bringing historical figures and contemporary movements to life, fairly portraying the competing/complementary strands of progressive activism, and diplomatically dispelling myths about history’s heroes. They argue, persuasively, that humanity is best served when structurally disciplined organizers, disruptive mass mobilizers, and countercultural visionaries are able to combine forces and play off each other’s distinctive strengths.” —Kony Kim, prisoners’ rights attorney

“It was so nice to read something that theorizes social change amidst recent and relevant uprisings. The writing is solid and easy to read, interweaving analysis with the Civil Rights Movement as well as the Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement, and Black Lives Matter. The most important thing I got from this book is that a lot of times when there is social change, commentators dismiss it as an inevitable product of the times. Engler and Engler are saying, no, change is the product of deliberate plan and action.” —Doni Faber, Folded Pages Distillery

“This might be one of the most important books on community organizing and effecting change I have ever read. The Englers have put together a book that is the anatomy of revolt, not just against dictators and tyrants, but against all forms of governments resistant to change. The field of research into nonviolent civil protest and activism has advanced quite a ways since Alinsky was around, and this book is an in-depth investigation of each of the pieces. Necessary reading for any group wanting to be an active voice for positive change.” A. T. Ross, novelist

 

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