Monday, January 17, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: After Ghandi

After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent ResistanceAfter Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance Anne Sibley O'Brien and Perry Edmond O'Brien

After Ghandi offers brief introductions to famous incidents of nonviolent protest around the world, and brief biographies of some of the people involved in those protests. It starts with Ghandi leading a protest in South Africa in 1908 in which many Asian residents burned the registration papers that made them register as foreigners. It ends with the February 2003 global protests against the war in Iraq. In between it covers the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Tiananmen Square Protests, the Velvet Revolution, and work done by such groups as the Peace People and the Mothers of the Disappeared.

It's a striking design-- mainly black and white with large pull quotes highlighted in dark red. Most sections end with a black-and-white pastel portrait of one of the highlighted leaders done by Anne Sibley O'Brien. While the portraits are beautiful, I would have preferred photographs.

I liked that it didn't tell the story of Rosa Parks as a woman who got caught up in history, but rather as one who knew exactly what she was doing. (Lets give Parks a little agency, ok? It makes her more awesome.) It mentions that she was not the first person arrested but that her arrest was the one that got the bus boycott going.

I was a little taken aback by the section on the Tiananmen Square protests. Even though it ends with the tanks moving in, it contains several phrases such as "At the time, China was run by an oppressive, corrupt regime that was intolerant of criticism" or "At the time, Chinese citizens had no choice in the election of their leaders." Yes, that's all true. But it's still true. Starting the sentence with "at the time" makes it sound like there's been a radical shift since then, and there hasn't been.

Overall though, it's a great introduction to the ways people have, and can, stand up to injustice peacefully. They're great stories of courage and standing up in the face of fear. I also loved that they included stories of nonviolent protest that didn't always work-- it highlights that just because they didn't get results, people tried and we remember them for trying and we can continue their work for a better world.

It's a great book to highlight on a day dedicated to a man who used nonviolence as a way to dramatically change the world we live in.

Round up is over at NC Teacher Stuff.

Book Provided by... the publisher for Cybils 2009 consideration.

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