Surmountable : How Citizens from Selma to Seoul Changed the World

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Surmountable is the first book explicitly written for the millions of people who have taken part in protests or demonstrations but were left wondering what they achieved, and the millions more who sat out events because they questioned the potential for results. The book addresses these lingering doubts and offers a powerful response in the voices of front line social activists, political thought leaders, and every day citizens. Surmountable chronicles the victories and setbacks of ten American and three international civic movements from the past century. Authors Brian Gruber and Adam Monier Edwards uncover the details behind some of history's most iconic events such as the Selma to Montgomery marches for civil rights, lesser known successes including one man's mission to resurrect an unratified Constitutional amendment, and insights from how citizens overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve their goals. We visited 15 cities across four continents near where history was made to seek answers to burning questions such as:
Is there an effective playbook for the modern activist?
How are successes and failures measured?
How universal are the value in the U.S. Constitution?
What can we learn from activists from outside the U.S.? Selected interviewees include:
Lucy Beard, Alice Paul Institute executive director
Sam Walker, National Voting Rights Museum and Institute historian
Colleen Sheehan, Villanova University professor, Heritage Foundation scholar, and 5-time author
Dr. Todd Gitlin, Columbia University professor, sociologist, and 16-time author
Gregory Watson, legislative analyst and driving force behind the 27th Amendment
Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive founder and Alexa Internet co-founder
Lamine Alibi, Tunisia Patriotic Democratic Unity Party central committee member
Kalle Lasn, Adbusters co-founder and Occupy Wall Street co-creator
Sergii Kharchuk, Euromaidan activist and Kyiv city councilman
Dr. Hong-koo Han, Sungkonghoe University professor of Korean history and author
Jay O'Neal, West Virginia teacher strike leader
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, Lakota historian, Standing Rock activist, and NoDAPL movement co-founder
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Product details

  • Paperback | 340 pages
  • 152 x 228 x 6mm | 544.31g
  • English
  • 173611851X
  • 9781736118511

About Brian Gruber

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Brian Gruber has spent 40 years studying, leading, and developing new media companies and creative projects. He was hired by C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb to be the pioneering cable network's first head of marketing, where he hosted two live national call-in shows each week with politically prominent guests such as John McCain, Nancy Pelosi, and Cesar Chavez. After years as a cable TV marketing turnaround specialist, he was hired as the first head of marketing for Australia's national cable television company FOXTEL. While consulting for the San Francisco-based World Affairs Council, Brian founded, a global thought leader network presenting the world's leading public forums; it was named by Time magazine as one of the fifty best sites on the web. While there he interviewed numerous public intellectuals, writers and policy experts from Christopher Hitchens to Norman Mailer and Amy Goodman to Jim Lehrer. He also founded, which streamed hundreds of live concerts from elite jazz clubs in Brazil, the UK, Italy, and the United States. Brian authored "WAR: The Afterparty," a global "walkabout" to the scenes of a half century of U.S. military interventions. In additional to interviews on Fox News, C-SPAN, and public radio, he was widely praised in reviews for the book's vision and editorial style. Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times bureau chief and one of America's leading foreign policy authors, commented, "Joining the army, according to an old proverb, gives you the chance to 'travel the world, meet interesting people and kill them.' In this book, Brian Gruber travels the world, meets extremely interesting people, and instead of killing them, tries to understand them. His book cuts through layers of propaganda and helps us see the world's problems - and ourselves - through the eyes of others." Brian's last book, "Six Days at Ronnie Scott's: Billy Cobham on Jazz Fusion and the Act of Creation," garnered uniformly positive reviews across the jazz community. Carlo Wolff of Downbeat called it, "... an unusual and welcome addition to the jazz bibliography." Geoff Nicholls of Rhythm magazine adds, "Well-written and thought-provoking... a challenging document of a half-century of cutting-edge musical exploration." Brian is currently writing a history of his current home, the Thai island of Koh Phangan. Adam Monier Edwards was born in Washington, Pennsylvania - home to one of the nation's earliest protests, the Whiskey Rebellion (1791-1794). While building the framework to document underdog activists' successes in Surmountable, Adam has helped turn the similarly underrepresented skill set of search engine optimization (SEO) into a thriving field during his 20-year career. Adam was recently promoted into his current agency's first ever global head for the discipline where he now leads over 250 practitioners worldwide. In 2019, he delivered the keynote speech at the IAB Forum in Montevideo, Uruguay and led his department to win both Best Large SEO Agency at the U.S. Search Awards and Best SEO Campaign at the OMMA Awards. In parallel, Adam has also been an executive producer of notable independent films such as Refugee (2018), hailed as "an extraordinary film ... incredibly moving" by BBC World News, and Shooting an Elephant (2016), official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival. In 2020, he was named to the prestigious NationSwell Council after previously serving as a board member of Upwardly Global, where his events generated the nonprofit's first ever press coverage in the New York Times and New York Daily News for immigrant and refugee job placement assistance. Adam is now applying his two decades of business insights to the stagnant analysis of civic engagement by showing how activist fervor and resilience can effectively lead to meaningful results. He lives in New York with his wife.
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