Why Dissent Matters
Because Some People See Things the Rest of Us Miss
Frances Kelsey was a quiet Canadian doctor and scientist who stood up to a huge pharmaceutical company wanting to market a new drug - thalidomide - and prevented an American tragedy. The nature writer Rachel Carson identified an emerging environmental disaster and pulled the fire alarm. Public protests, individual dissenters, judges, and juries can change the world - and they do. A wide-ranging and provocative work on controversial subjects, Why Dissent Matters tells a story of dissent and dissenters - people who have been attacked, bullied, ostracized, jailed, and, sometimes when it is all over, celebrated. William Kaplan shows that dissent is noisy, messy, inconvenient, and almost always time-consuming, but that suppressing it is usually a mistake - it’s bad for the dissenter but worse for the rest of us. Drawing attention to the voices behind international protests such as Occupy Wall Street and Boycott, Divest, and Sanction, he contends that we don’t have to do what dissenters want, but we should listen to what they say. Our problems are not going away. There will always be abuses of power to confront, wrongs to right, and new opportunities for dissenting voices to say, "Stop, listen to me." Why Dissent Matters may well lead to a different and more just future.
“Applying a historical analysis to various kinds of dissent through the past century, and focusing on figures as diverse as Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) and Occupy Wall Street's Micah White, Kaplan illustrates the validity of protest as a means of social change.” The Quill & Quire
“Passionate and forceful.” Margaret MacMillan, University of Oxford
"A brave and powerful book." Constance Backhouse, University of Ottawa