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Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists Paperback – September 7, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Martin (Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters) attempts to galvanize a new generation of activists, exhorting them to abandon puffy "save the world" rhetoric in favor of action. A passionate champion for social justice work of all stripes, she profiles eight activists who have managed to "soothe the critics and pessimists in their own heads and act," among them Rachel Corrie, the young American crushed to death under an Israeli bulldozer while protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes. While Martin's intentions are good and the individuals she writes about are compelling and complex, there's a lingering naïveté and puzzling ahistoricism. She writes about the need for a new generation of activists without addressing what battles have been fought and how. Without an attention to the past, she cannot speak to the efficacy of certain tactics above others or how to tailor social justice work to be of maximum benefit to specific campaigns and communities. Nonetheless, Martin is successful in cheering on would-be activists to struggle and fail and struggle again. And while the book may raise more questions than it answers, it initiates a vital conversation at a time when the world and its challenges seem more intractable than ever.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Courtney Martin’s portraits of eight young activists reveal people who are flawed, scared, and human—which makes them all the more inspiring. An elegant, effortless read that confirms what we already know: young people continue to change the world.”
—Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, authors of Manifesta and Grassroots

Do It Anyway asks the most difficult question possible: how can I make my life meaningful? The answers are varied, transformational, and necessary for us all.”
—Jane Fonda

“Courtney Martin is one of our most insightful culture critics and one of our finest young writers. She’s written a lively, compelling, and very important book for people of every generation who want to be fully alive in and to the world. Take in what she says and you may find yourself turning to that impossible cause you care about and ‘doing it anyway.’” 
—Parker J. Palmer, author of Let Your Life Speak

“Unlike a lot of authors, Courtney Martin isn’t trying to sell you activism and why you should (yawn) get involved. Instead, she goes deep into the stories and lived experience of eight individuals. Do It Anyway is a treasure and deeply affecting.” 
—Billy Wimsatt, author of Bomb the Suburbs and Please Don't Bomb the Suburbs

“Put this on your must read list! Courtney Martin, of Feministing and Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters fame, has just launched a new book. Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists profiles the work of eight activists, doing what they can to make this world a better place.”
- The Real Deal


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807000477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807000472
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Courtney E. Martin is the award-winning author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection is Harming Young Women called "a hardcover punch in the gut" by Arianna Huffington and "a smart and spirited rant that makes for thought-provoking reading" by the New York Times.

She is also a widely-read freelance journalist and regular blogger for Feministing. She is a Senior Correspondent for The American Prospect Online and her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Newsweek, and the Christian Science Monitor, among others.

In addition, Courtney consults with social justice organizations throughout the nation, including the Ms. Foundation for Women, the National Council for Research on Women, and the Bartos Institute for the Constructive Engagement of Conflict. She has conducted workshops for the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty throughout the nation.

Courtney also co-wrote the life story of AIDS activist Marvelyn Brown, called The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive. She is currently at work on a book for Beacon Press about ten people under 35 creating innovative social change and an anthology for Seal Press about the moments that made young women feminists.

In addition, she has essays in many anthologies, including A 21st Century Ethical Toolbox (Oxford University Press), and Declare Yourself: Fifty American Talk about Why Voting Matters (Greenwillow Books, HarperCollins).

She has been on Good Morning America, the TODAY Show, the O'Reilly Factor, and MSNBC, and spoken on radio programs and at colleges, non-profits, and parenting organizations across the nation.

Courtney has an M.A. from the Gallatin School at New York University in writing and social change and a B.A. from Barnard College in political science and sociology. She is a Woodhull fellow and part of the Progressive Women's Voices Project at the Women's Media Center. She was awarded the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics in 2002 and was a Resident at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center this summer. Courtney also founded The Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy, just named one of the NEW York 100.

When she isn't working, which is not nearly enough of the time, she is walking in Brooklyn's Prospect Park or conspiring to create unselfconscious dance parties with her amazing friends.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shayna on September 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
I devoured Martin's latest work of non fiction, "Do It Anyway," because of her accuracy and the way it speaks to my generation. I truly admire her work because she is a social activist in her own right--choosing to write 200 pages about other activists is social change in itself. She uses her power and privilege in order to bring attention to some serious issues at hand. It is a wake up call for all of us. I also admire the idealism within this work. I think that idealism can often be described as naive (as said by Publisher's Weekly), but it's actually not something to be ashamed of. Idealism means hoping for the best outcome and owning feelings of optimism--which is exactly what we need in our country right now. Thanks, Ms. Martin!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mitchell R. Alegre VINE VOICE on November 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
Courtney Martin provides the reader with revealing profiles of eight young activists. Martin digs behind the actions to uncover what motivates these young people to devote themselves to making a difference in the world. Most of the activists portrayed are not seeking to change the world on a grand scale. Instead they are taking action within their communities to have an impact where they live. The portraits reveal each person's struggle to find and live his or her calling. Martin describes the false starts many of the individuals experienced on their way to finding their cause. Even then, many continue to wrestle with doubt.

This is not a book on how to become an activist or how to do community organizing. It is a volume of human stories of people who care about how they use their lives for the common good. Martin's profiles assure us that there are young people who deeply care about their fellow humans. The book may be most useful to other young adults who are searching how to make a difference in their communities. Martin avoids romanticizing the activists she profiles. She reveals the struggles, doubts, and faults of those she writes about while also holding up their gifts, commitment, and courage.

The book is well written. The people profiled are portrayed in their humanness and, as a result, can simultaneously evoke admiration and annoyance in the reader. Do not expect an activist manual. Do expect insight into the difficultly of becoming an activist. Then be inspired to do it anyway.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robin Stern, Ph.D. on September 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Courtney's book makes it seem possible to change the world one person at a time. Through inspiring stories of real people fulfilling their own need to do something and meeting the need they see in the world Courtney lights a fire in all of us. This book is a great read for teens and adults, who want to know what it actually looks like to make change happen. The book is beautifully written, heartfelt and smart -- and, will get under your skin - pushing you just a little, to do something!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JFish on September 21, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Courney has collected powerful stories about Gen X/Y activists that really helped me understand my Gen Y employees, as well as future volunteers and organizations I partner with. She is a great story teller, and her book should be required reading for every social entrepreneur.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Fenn on August 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
Do It Anyway: The New Generation Of Activists by Courtney E. Martin is a book I received through the Early Reviewers program on LibraryThing. Ms. Martin wrote the book because of the desperation she felt in her own activist life. She wanted to look at and write about what activism meant for her generation, so she sought out and interviewed eight young men and women to learn about what they do and why they do it. Each profile makes up one chapter of the book.

The book begins on a somber note with the tale of Rachel Corrie, the Washingtonian peace activist who sacrificed herself in Israel to protect Palestinians whose house was to be demolished. Martin uses Corrie's story as a jumping off point, saying that "we must not envy that end, but turn to 'live people' for our inspiration..." Ms. Martin does just that by talking to people like Raul Diaz, a prison reentry social worker in Los Angeles; Nia Martin-Robinson, an environmental justice activist in DC; and Tyrone Boucher, a radical philanthropist in Philadelphia.

I really like Ms. Martin's style of writing and her ability to share these individuals' stories and their struggles. Martin also calls out the problems with bureaucracy and mainstream solutions that each of them have to deal with. I was especially taken by the point she makes that foundations and other nonprofits perpetuate the problems that they're trying to solve by not questioning the system that they're a part of as much as they probably could.

I was also pleased to learn about young people of privilege who are uncomfortable with that and want to do something about it. In this post-Reagan era of greed and selfishness, it was refreshing to read about. In general, I found the book refreshing and inspiring. The mainstream media seems to take great pleasure in looking down on younger generations. It has always done this, and it has always been wrong.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SummerMeadow8 on December 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
Courtney Martin walks beside eight activists raised in the 80s and 90s to show that our generation really does care, that we are involved, that we are trying to change the world - instead of saving it.
She gives a voice to those that are fighting hard to make a difference, that our generation is making a difference in one life, while trying to make greater overall change.
Courtney Martin captures the stories, makes you want to get more involved in changing the world, without the typical feeling that you aren't doing enough. She writes with compassion, a critical eye and an ability to tell the story that makes you care, shows you the inside and leaves you feeling. Her writing makes this book a page turner.
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