Joanne Sheehan, Howard Clark and Shannon McManimon (eds), 'Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns'

IssueSeptember 2009
Review by Jenny Gaiawyn

This Handbook has been put together by an international committee with the aim of creating a useful tool for those working for social change. However, unlike many similar books birthed in British or North American activist movements, this one is written from a global perspective and is all the richer for it, providing a broader view of both how nonviolent actions can be used and the type of people who are involved in such activism.

Written in a clear and succinct style, it’s a worthwhile read for all those involved in nonviolent campaigning: from the interested outsider to those who have decades of experience behind them. The former will find it a gentle introduction whilst the latter will be given new energy and ideas.

The first section consists of a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of how to tackle nonviolent activism: from exploring the principles of nonviolence, to building strategies, forming groups, and preparing for actions. Throughout these chapters there are brief examples to illustrate the strategies being discussed, then an entire chapter is set aside to provide more in-depth stories that also serve to inspire the reader.

The last few chapters of the book are more practical with exercises, advice on creating a more specific handbook and an outline of what other resources are available. These chapters would also be of great use to people involved in nonviolence training, especially because of the large range of case studies.

One of the impressive aspects of this book is that, even though it is relatively short, it still covers issues that are often left out of longer books: issues that really can’t be ignored in creating sustainable activist movements, for example the third chapter covers gender and nonviolence.

Overall a useful book that is well-written and informative and of benefit to a wide audience.

See more of: Review