This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century

This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century

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This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century

by Mark Engler and Paul Engler
(Nation Books. February 9, 2016. 368 pages. ISBN 978-1568587332.)

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This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century

This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century


From protests around climate change and immigrant rights, to Occupy, the Arab Spring, and #BlackLivesMatter, a new generation is unleashing strategic nonviolent action to shape public debate and force political change. When mass movements erupt onto our television screens, the media consistently portrays them as being spontaneous and unpredictable. Yet, in this book, Mark and Paul Engler look at the hidden art behind such outbursts of protest, examining core principles that have been used to spark and guide moments of transformative unrest.

With incisive insights from contemporary activists, as well as fresh revelations about the work of groundbreaking figures such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Gene Sharp, and Frances Fox Piven, the Englers show how people with few resources and little conventional influence are engineering the upheavals that are reshaping contemporary politics.

Nonviolence is usually seen simply as a philosophy or moral code. This Is an Uprising shows how it can instead be deployed as a method of political conflict, disruption, and escalation. It argues that if we are always taken by surprise by dramatic outbreaks of revolt, we pass up the chance to understand a critical phenomenon—and to harness its power to create lasting change.


“Absorbing… Ambitious… Indispensable. A genuine gift to social movements everywhere.” —Naomi Klein

“This book is certain to become a seminal text for activists and scholars. The authors use their well-informed case studies of contemporary social movements to evaluate major theoretical perspectives, and in the process 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

 “I am thrilled to see this book in print. Mark and Paul Engler have compiled a true masterpiece on the history, logic, ethics, and power of nonviolent action. Sweeping in scope, chock full of insights, and eminently readable, this text is sure to inform and inspire for generations to come.”—Erica Chenoweth, co-author of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

“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

“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. [It] puts a name on . . . 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

“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, educator, activist, and founder of Training for Change

“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

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