This collection of primary sources presents the story of US History as told by dissenters who, throughout the course of American history, have fought to gain rights they believed were denied to them or others, or who disagree with the government or majority opinion.
Each document is introduced by placing it in its historical context, and thought-provoking questions are provided to focus the student when s/he reads the text. Instructors are at liberty to choose the documents that best highlight a theme they wish to emphasize.
In this time of warrantless wiretaps and imprisonment without trial, these two anthologies remind us how hard previous generations of Americans fought to preserve and broaden our civil and human rights. Dissent is the larger and broader of the two. Young (history, Temple Univ.) organizes his book chronologically, with introductions to each of nine broad periods from pre-Revolutionary War to contemporary times (Cindy Sheehan against the war in Iraq in 2005) and briefer introductions for each author. Early protests of religious persecution by Puritans in the 17th century mix with Native American speeches and an anonymous slave's letter, and the collection continues with a wide social, economic, political, and racial span, ultimately embracing a panoply of issues including black liberation, the environment, gay rights, workers' rights, and peace movements. While Young defines dissent as coming from both the Left and the Right in his introduction, left of center predominates. American Protest Literature is organized by Trodd around 11 subjects, which are collected more or less as they have arisen chronologically in our history, from "Declaring Independence" and "Unvanishing the Indian" to "The Word Is Out: Gay Liberation" and "From Saigon to Baghdad." Within each area, Trodd presents writings from both the originating movement and the later protest writings on similar themes, e.g., Daniel De Leon's 1895 Declaration of Interdependence by the Socialist Labor Party is with Thomas Paine in the first section. There is less introductory material here than in Young's book, but by linking original works to later pieces Trodd underlines the historical roots of American dissent and the ongoing relevance of these writings. Trodd does not attempt to include right-of-center dissent, nor does her work contain literature on environmentalism or the long history of anti-imperialism, as does Young. Taken together, these books offer an exciting and inclusive vision of Americans fighting for their rights since the 17th century. Both are highly recommended for academic and public libraries. Duncan Stewart, Univ. of Iowa Libs., Iowa City Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.