American Dissidents: An Encyclopedia of Activists, Subversives, and Prisoners of Conscience

Article excerpt

American Dissidents: An Encyclopedia of Activists, Subversives, and Prisoners of Conscience. Ed. by Kathlyn Gay Santa Barbara, Ca.: ABC-CLIO, 2012. 2 Vols. Acid free $173 (ISBN 978-1-59884-764-2). Ebook available (978-1-59884765-9), call for pricing.

This biographical reference source has 152 essays on a wide variety of American dissidents who promoted causes or opposed government or social policies during the twentieth century through the present time. The people chosen for examination were active in movements for the rights of African Americans, women, the disabled, labor, ethnic groups, the gay community, and Native Americans. Other activists were involved with the environment, peace, politics, religion, social justice, and political prisoners. The dissidents may represent various strains of the political and social left, such as Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and Anna Louise Strong, or the right, such as Lyndon LaRouche, Phyllis Schlafly, and Rush Limbaugh. Among the key players in the movements for civil rights, there are essays on James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Bobby Seale, Betty Friedan, Alice Paul, Barney Frank, Harvey Milk, Yuri Kochiyama, and Russell Means. Other subjects include anarchists Ferdinando Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, women's health advocate Margaret Sanger, socialist Charles Steinmetz, singer Pete Seeger, comedian George Carlin, labor activist Lucas Benitez, and human rights leader Eli Wiesel. Some individuals who became known in recent years for their activities are Al Franken, Glenn Beck, and Bradley Manning.

It is possible to find biographical information in other sources on all of the persons highlighted in this work, but this encyclopedia is valuable for its well-written, concise, and objective overviews of each dissident's life and contributions to the causes that they worked for or represented. …