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Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, America's Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group Paperback – June 28, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press; 1 edition (June 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826517064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826517067
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 6.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...excellent history of ACORN's rise and fall..."
--The American Prospect

"Seeds of Change not only provides a gripping look at ACORN's four decades of effective organizing, but also offers a hopeful analysis of the potential for a revival of real American democracy."
--thedeepening.com/greatnon-fiction/2010

"Atlas delivers a rare look into the machinery of a high-profile, controversial grassroots organization."
--Bostonia

"..an impressively detailed, thougtful, and honest history of ACORN..."
--World Wide Work

" 'Community organizer' has become a household phrase--sometimes a commendation, sometimes a slur. But the public knows little about it, or about ACORN, that lightning rod for right-wing abuse. No one has written more informatively about this difficult, necessary work than John Atlas." --Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage


"Long before the 2008 election made ACORN either famous or notorious, depending on your political point of view, John Atlas was closely following the group over its decades of community organizing throughout America. A knowledgeable and empathetic observer, but never an apologist, Atlas has now written the definitive work on ACORN." --Samuel G. Freedman, author of Letters to a Young Journalist


"Seeds of Change is the definitive book on one of the most effective grass roots organizations of low income Americans. In an era when our President is a one-time community organizer, ACORN needs to be better understood and appreciated as a source of civic and political mobilization. John Atlas combines scholarship, political insight, and powerful narrative writing in this essential book." --Robert Kuttner, author, co-founder of The American Prospect magazine


"Seeds of Change is an exceptionally important book--a vivid, honest, and gripping look at the front lines, warts and controversies and all. John Atlas's story of ACORN is also a broader story of critical importance to the nation at this moment of change and transition. He tells the tale of a new populist movement of ordinary citizens beginning to emerge, taking on everyday issues of housing, health care, wages, and schools, and also the broadest question, the future and fate of American democracy itself." --Harry C. Boyte, founder and co-director, Center for Democracy and Citizenship


"Seeds of Change takes us inside the world of ACORN, perhaps the most complicated national progressive organization in America. By gaining access and trust where most reporters had failed, Atlas deploys his journalistic skills beautifully in this powerful portrait of people working to realize a vision of social prosperity." --Sudhir Venkatesh, Columbia University


"This timely and engaging book about one of America's most important antipoverty organizations is a must read. Couched within the broader context of American culture and politics, John Atlas' riveting stories about ACORN as an organization and its activities accomplishes the following: The reader of Seeds of Change gains an understanding not only of ACORN's success in the fight for social justice, but also why its efforts to empower ordinary people are viewed with alarm and have come under attack by conservative and reactionary forces in our society." --William Julius Wilson, Harvard University

About the Author

John Atlas, a longtime public interest lawyer, writer, and organizer, is a founder and current president of the National Housing Institute, which publishes Shelterforce. His work has appeared in numerous publications including The Huffington Post, The Star Ledger, The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Tikkun, The Nation, Dissent, New Jersey Reporter, and Social Policy.

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Customer Reviews

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There is an image that remains from reading Seeds of Change.
France Kassing
For one thing, it is pretty clear that Atlas, unlike the folks at Glenn Beck, actually interviewed his subjects.
organizer
Atlas, like ACORN's leaders, expected Obama's victory in 2008 to give the organization even greater influence.
Peter Dreier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Peter Dreier on June 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
Six weeks after the first oil spewed out of BP's wells in the Gulf Coast, President Obama said he was ready to "kick ass" to pressure the company to fix the damage. We don't usually associate presidents with kicking ass. That's the job of social movements. Indeed, the evidence so far shows that Obama, like most liberal politicians, is most likely to get tough on business when people are protesting in the streets demanding corporate responsibility.

That inside-outside strategy is how all progressive reforms - from the 8-hour day to the Voting Rights Act, from women's suffrage to the Clean Air Act, and from Social Security to the recent passage of universal health care - came to be. Liberal politicians need a well-organized constituency, even a movement, to give them room for maneuver. (The same is true on the Right, as exemplified in the Tea Party movement).

No group was better at kicking ass, and playing that inside-outside game, than ACORN. That's the story that John Atlas tells in his fascinating new book, Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, America's Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group, published by Vanderbilt University Press.

Seeds of Change is full of fascinating people, colorful anecdotes, and political drama, but it is really a story about the hard but hopeful work of bringing about progressive change. Atlas writes about activists, organizers, and ordinary people learning how to fight for, and win, better living and working conditions. It is a book about the poor that doesn't treat them as victims or stereotypes, but as people who, by joining with others in politics and protest, can shape their own destiny, by changing government policy and corporate practices.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lila Lee on June 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ever since ACORN was in the news I have wondered about the organization and the real story behind the headlines. I picked up a copy of Seeds of Change after hearing John Atlas discuss his book on the radio. I've not been disappointed. He's written a lively, action packed book which provides a history of ACORN, its leadership, programs, accomplishments, and the controversies that have swirled around it. Although it's clear that the author is a supporter, he does not shy away from looking at the weaknesses in ACORN which might have contributed to its downfall. I urge anyone who wants the true story to read this book.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By organizer on July 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I saw the movie "Hoop Dreams", I felt a sense of exhilaration, like someone had finally got the experience of some low income African American families close to right. That's how I feel about John Atlas' book on Acorn. It is not perfect, but it is so much closer to the truth about Acorn than anything we have seen to date. Whether you like Acorn or hate it, or are just interested in it from what it can teach us about the vulnerability of poor people's organizations, Seed of Change is an interesting read. For one thing, it is pretty clear that Atlas, unlike the folks at Glenn Beck, actually interviewed his subjects. Imagine, in this day and age where a kind of "anything goes" passes for journalism, Atlas actually talks to his subjects, then documents what they say with press backup. Refreshing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stuart C Elliott on December 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Seeds of Change is an excellent book. I highly recommend it to everyone interested in community-based social change. It is impossible to understand the last 20-30 years of social justice without understanding the role of ACORN. John Atlas' book is the best place to get that understanding.
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