Monday, August 20, 2018

Protest movements then and now by Eric Braun

This is part of a series from Smithsonian, under the mantle of Capstone, about protest movements. The other titles cover civil rights, environmental protests, and women's rights but this is just a general one.

Which, to be honest, was my first problem with this book. I'm not sure why it didn't designate in the subtitle that it's primarily about the 1960s, but apparently it's meant to be an overview of the formative protests of the 1960s. The book covers the changes in culture, economy, and the aftermath of the world wars that led to this decade being a pivotal moment for the United States. It addresses the reasons behind protests about civil rights, women's rights, the environment, and some nascent gay and lesbian protests, such as the Stonewall riots. The book covers the tools used in protest, from music and radio to marches and sit-ins and moving onto television. It ends with the results of the various protests and a chapter looking forward to the future and referencing current protest movements.

Additional information includes questions for discussion, additional resources, a glossary, websites, and more. Unfortunately, as well as many photographs and some archival material, the book also includes several typos and some clunky phrasing that seems due to punctuation errors.

It's an interesting look at protest movements, but it's not cohesive in its subject and tries to cover too much, at one point discussing civil rights and then jumping to women's rights movements, talking about legislation passed to protect the environment and then giving statistics on unemployment and and discrimination. The issues covered are very complex and the book is too brief to really do justice to them. The contemporary protests covered at the end are an interesting addition, putting the changes into perspective over time, but they also mean the book is likely to become outdated quickly, especially as the current administration repeals legislation and the long-term effects, if any, of protests from the early 2000s begin to show.

Verdict: As an introduction to the topic, something that readers might pick up to help them narrow down a topic, it's an acceptable choice, or would be if it had additional proofreading and the errors were removed. Unless you have a very generous budget though, it's an additional purchase at best since it will quickly become outdated.

ISBN: 9781543503852; Published 2018 by Smithsonian/Capstone; Review copy provided by publisher

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