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Dissent in America: The Voices That Shaped a Nation 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321442970
ISBN-10: 0321442970
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Taking up Martin Luther King, Jr.'s definition of dissent-"the right to protest for right"-Temple University historian Young culls 400 years worth of texts that exercise that right with fire and flair. Anne Hutchinson, Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., Ani DiFranco and Cindy Sheehan all appear, alongside lesser-known figures like Native American Stung Serpent (writing in 1723) and Lucy Stone (who circulated her "Statement on Marriage" in 1855). Divided chronologically, the anthology collects essays, speeches, organizational statements, songs, posters, interviews, broadsides and texts in other media. Most of those voices come from the left of the political spectrum, but Father Coughlin, The Michigan Militia and others are also here. Susan B. Anthony advises earnest dissenters to "avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences." For readers with something on their minds, 400 years of precedent may be just what they need to stimulate some questions of their own. B&W illustrations.
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From Booklist

“Dissent is central to American history,” writes historian, professor, terrorism expert, and novelist Young, and central, one might extrapolate, to the American spirit and democracy itself. Young originally constructed a comprehensive and scholarly two-volume collection of the writings, speeches, and manifestos of visionary and influential American dissenters. He now offers a concentrated version that is both more accessible and more dramatic in its chronological and inclusive coverage of a spectrum of resistance to injustice, from pre–Revolutionary War petitions to protests against the Iraq War. Name a world-altering social movement, and you will find fiery expressions of its impetus, beliefs, demands, and hopes, from the birth of the nation to religious freedom, free speech, abolition, environmental concerns, and the battles to protect the rights of Native Americans, African Americans, workers, women, and gays. Along with official documents and cries from the hearts of ordinary citizens, Young includes protest music (Woody Guthrie, Ani DiFranco, Mos Def), and profound and eloquent writings by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Mario Salvo, and Gloria Steinem. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 1 edition (June 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321442970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321442970
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,038,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Fries on December 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
Professor Ralph Young's book Dissent in America is a remarkable journey through American History using dissent as the theme, which, as the author points out, "has played a central role in the American experience". The book is much more than a compendium of writings on dissent. The author's clear and concise introduction to each reading creates the thread that ties that reading to what was happening in the country. There is a wealth of information in this volume. One can read Abigail Adams' letters to her husband, off writing the Constitution, asking that women be remembered in the document (he condescendingly brushes her off). Every major dissenter from Roger Williams to Cindy Sheehan is represented in this book Of course, for this writer the best part of Dissent in America is the 1960s (mostly because he lived through them). Be sure to read all of "Mobilization: Vietnam and the Counterculture, 1964-1975". This is an excellent resume of the protests and songs and manifestos that were so much a part of that period. Not so surprisingly a lot of what is included in that section remains contemporary (you might want to look up Pete Seeger's "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" on YouTube).

Don't assume that this book deals only with leftist and liberal dissent and critiques of American Society. Dr. Young also presents articles from the Michigan Militia, Theodore Kaczynski, and Father Coughlin (who happens to be included in the book, just before Emma Goldman and Woody Guthrie). Dissent in America is a complete discourse which should appeal to anyone interested in American History. It is not only invaluable for students of the history of the United States, but also the general public who might want to understand all the forces which made America a great country.
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Format: Paperback
This excellent, exhaustive anthology includes the great essays and documents written by dissenters from before the founding of the colonies to the present time. The author has done a fine job of providing a narrative history of the United States through the ideas and ideals of famous and little known Americans who exercised their cherished right to express themselves about the state of the country. Included are all the important themes--abolition, civil rights, women's rights, anti-war, taxation, etc.--that define America. A good feature is that it includes dissent from the Right and the left.

This hefty collection is ideal for discussion groups and college courses or for keeping on a nightstand to be read at leisure. At a time when our rights as citizens are being questioned and tested, this is an inspiring and comforting work, which emphasizes that dissent is older than the United States and a privilege and obligation of its citizens.
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Format: Paperback
I've always been fond of books that dealt with hidden and little-known history. This is a good example of such.

Essentailly, you have documents from American history going all the way back the 1600s that involve people who went against the status quo.

In one book, you have antislavery Quakers and abolitionists, early feminists, American Indians speaking out against their oppression, American Loyalists during the American Revoution and Union loyalists from the South during the civil war, populists, Black Panthers, socilaists, racists, archconservatives, anarchists, and anti war activists from just about every war including the current one. All speak in their own voice.

Of course no one will agree with everything said here, but it's good to bring these people's words to light to put the struggles of our own time in their proper context.
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For a basic understanding of how this country has fought against the forces of big money and political power from the very beginning, I haven't found a better anthology than this one. You'll be amazed at the things you didn't know, or had forgotten, about American history.
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This is a fantastic, phenomenal collection of primary-source documents spanning all throughout American history. I highly recommend it for anyone interesting in brushing up on American history, as well as anyone genuinely interested in the various reasons, methodologies, and practices behind "dissent."
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By Sierra G on January 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
Dissent in America is a book, that once you read, underline, dog ear and highlight you will want to carry around under your arm for the rest of your life as a portable library. For anyone passionate about a cause, no matter what it may be, this anthology provides words of inspiration from a mosaic of American voices that cut against the drone of traditional society. Though you may not agree with the beliefs or methods of every dissenter (for this book does not shy away from representing an honest cross-section of dissenters- radical and fundamentalists from both sides of the spectrum) you can take something away from their words. I found that by seeing how different people have approached dissent and advocated for their cause, I could decide what kind of techniques were successful could weigh my own morals against methods verging on violence. In this way I could decide where I would draw the line as an activist myself.
I read this book in a class I took at Temple University with the author, Dr. Ralph Young. It was undoubtedly my favorite class. This book was our textbook. Although as a student it is often difficult to keep up with a full load of reading-intensive classes, I devoured every single page of the hearty 700+-page text. Our class discussions were my favorite part of the "Dissent in America experience," however Ralph Young's rich base of knowledge and perspective is shown through introductions to each document. It is ALMOST as good as sitting in one of his lectures. This provides the reader with insight when approaching the document, yet the words of the dissent themselves go unfiltered.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares passionately about a cause. You will read it and approach the world with more fire.
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