Steal This Country: A Handbook for Resistance, Persistence, and Fixing Almost Everything by Alexandra Styron. Viking, 2018. ISBN 9780451479372
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? This “handbook” is a reaction to Donald Trump’s election to the presidency by an self-avowed “left of center” author, in an effort to inspire young people to activism. For those who want to create change, but are unsure how to start, the book covers all the bases, starting with the history of social activism in the U.S., with short passages covering the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and other movements up until Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid’s #TakeAKnee action in 2016. The bulk of the volume is concerned with explaining the most divisive issues in the news – climate change, immigration, LGBTQIA rights, racial justice, religious understanding, women’s rights, intersectionality, and disability issues – along with interviews of famous activists for each issue. The last portion of the book deals with the logistics of starting an effective campaign.
The writing is conversational and clear, with empathy and intellect. I feel that the strongest part of the book is the interviews with famous and influential people, with compelling stories to inspire readers. Shailene Woodley, Talib Kweli, Bassem Youssef, Lena Dunham, Maggie Gyllenhaal – I really enjoyed the personal stories of activism. Artwork is provided by several well-known cartoonists, which is appealing and adds humor. Useful back matter includes a glossary and additional sources.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Styron admits there had to be a limit to the issues covered in the book, and that some, like animal rights and gun control, didn’t make the cut. I think gun control is a big deal and should have been included.
To whom would you recommend this book? Young activists, age 12 and up, looking for ways to directs their desire for change.
Who should buy this book? Middle schools, high schools, and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Non fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: February 11, 2019