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Dan Jones, 'Banners and Dragons: The Complete Guide to Creative Campaigning'

Amnesty International UK, 2003; ISBN 1 873328 59 1; £12.99

If protest is to achieve anything, it should offer both a means and an end in itself. That is to say, the act should serve the location and situation in hand and, ideally, should energise those participating to further actions. Ordeal is not hugely conducive to spirited resistance.

If this all sounds either obvious or prescriptive, the point is only made because of the fundamental role media responses play in determining the success or failure of any act. So much of the time, protesting can feel like a contemporary staging of the perennial philosophical question: if there is no one to witness something, did it happen? Of course, in all but an absolute minority of actions, onlookers are present, most likely the very people one intends to reach, peering out from behind their blast-cushioning curtains. It seems crucial, in an age hooked on the image, to anchor oneself firstly in the real. Any investment in the hope of coverage as the primary game plan, ahead of concrete results on the ground, is vulnerable to much disappointment.

That said, many of the most effective actions also offer a visual, aural and/or environmental impact that serves both camps, the local and the mediated. This lively and informative guide certainly believes that it is possible to work both fields. Coming as it does from the Amnesty fold, an organisation that's no stranger to high-end PR results, this is no surprise. However, it's a mark of the growing climate for protest that AI feel wider publication of their accumulated thoughts on the territory will find favourable response.

Targeted at young people and students, and with a foreword by Anita Roddick, Banners... surveys possibilities large and small, from postcards and masks to kites, carnival and street theatre. Its fundamentally a how-to book, strong on timelines, budgets and ways of extending the possibilities of already existing gatherings, such as school assemblies, club nights and film shows. This is not the book for those kids in your life who are ready for some civil disobedience or NVDA, but it's sure to be a useful primer for those wanting a more textured engagement with the issues of the day. Above all, it promises some fun and a fair degree of spectacle, both pretty useful ingredients if you want to keep peoples attention and get them back the next time.

Topics: Activism