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Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla
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Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  183 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Direct Action chronicles the thrilling fast-paced action of the Guerrilla group that blew up the political activist scene of the 80's. Hansen and her Anarchist group Direct Action were responsible for numerous dramatic political acts, including the bombing of the Litton Systems plant in Toronto. After legal protest actions failed to stop Litton from making guidance systems ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published April 1st 2002 by AK Press (first published September 21st 2001)
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Larry Bassett
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am not a terrorist. I am a person who feels a moral obligation to do all that is humanly possible to prevent the destruction of the earth.

In the Preface of Direct Action, a nonfiction work, author Ann Hansen explains:
During the late 1970s and early 1980s there was in Canada a large anarchist community that was particularly active in the prison abolition, feminist, Native, environmental, and Third World solidarity movements. While still working within these movements, some anarchists began t
Ryan Mishap
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Direct Action by Ann Hansen: I was led to believe by a couple reviews I read that this book would be a dry, academic account undermining the subtitle “Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla” with political rationalizations and sectarian posturing. Holy shit, not at all! This book is amazing on more than one level. Written novel-like, it is completely absorbing. The early 80’s in Vancouver, B.C., Canada: a few like-minded anarchists decide to prepare for going underground and becoming urban guerrillas att ...more
Jul 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, political
I found this on the bookshelf at Autumn Leaves. I rarely buy books; I more often go to the library. But the title caught me, and reading the back cover, and learning that these folks did an action at Litton in the 1980's, I was hooked, because I have personal friends who were doing nonviolent actions at Litton in the 1980's. And I'm intrigued by people who live "underground."
The lives written about in this book have similarities to what I read in Bill Ayers' book about the Weather Underground.
Michael Schmidt
Mar 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: anarchism
The Heart of a Gun: A review of Ann Hansen, Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla

If I was to start talking to you about the Canadian anarchist guerrilla movement, you’d go “The what?” because in the modern era, outside of the separatist actions of the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ) over 1963-1970, and the armed Mohawk resistance over 1989-1990, Canada has not proven to be fertile ground for guerrilla movements.
But, like the Swedish anarchist guerrilla woman I interviewed a few years
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hansen is a gifted writer and this tale is useful for anyone involved in movements in canada or the us in particular, concise and honest look at mistakes made.
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an important piece of British Columbian and Canadian history. As a graduate of the BC public school system, we were never taught about any part of the events of this book. I had never heard of the Chekeye-Dunsmuir bombing, the Litton Bombing, or the firebombing of Red Hot Video locations on the lower mainland. And it's no surprise that the state would avoid educating us on this matter, or even allowing a classroom discussion about it.

The best thing this book has going for it is the hones
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who want to throw mollies.
This book is an accessible, easy to read account of life in the guerilla by a woman who made that choice, being part of Direct Action, who once they got busted were known as the Vancouver Five.

When i was a kid in high school we had "Free the Five" posters up one the walls. Everyone thought they were super-cool, even though everyone had different ideas about what they had done and why. But as kids, we grasped how special it was that someone had done something!

Now over twenty years later, i apprec
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
This was a very interesting read and one that opened me up to the potential of an armed revolutionary faction of the left. The book gives an extremely fair analysis from Ann Hansen, one of the Squamish 5, of what it means to be an urban guerrilla in a conservative culture with little connection to the outside after committing acts of destruction. There is a heaping plate full of experiential knowledge to draw on if one intends to take their activism to more extreme levels. It was a quick and exc ...more
Jan 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Direct Action is an in depth memoir of Ann Hansen's radicalization and participation in two guerrilla groups - Direct Action and Wimmin's Fire Brigade. I found the minutiae and analysis in all but the last hundred pages (these being somewhat boring) very intriguing. Unfortunately, Hansen omits some very real and unexpected ramifications of the Wimmin's Fire Brigade's "success" in drawing attention to pornography. Not only were their actions a catalyst in the Canadian government declaring porn de ...more
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is the amazing story from Ann's perspective of a group of Canadian guerilla activists. I saw the movie about the "Squamish Five" at the impressionable age of 14/15 and then I met Ann in the Prison for Women in the next year or so. I've always been curious about what it takes/does to a person to engage in such radical activism. She tackles their story with no hold-backs and tells how she went from a decent middle class girl to a woman serving a prison sentence for participating in the bombin ...more
Cristina DiChiera
Sep 14, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Only people interested in the topic
This book needs some SERIOUS editing. I could have been done with it ages ago if she didn't include every minute detail of EVERYTHING as well as attemtping to tell the story from the perspective of multiple characters. But it's a fascinating insider's look into the limits that some will go to for what they believe in. It also provides the opportunity to consider the conundrum of individuals who are all good people who come from different perspectives who all think they are fighting for what is r ...more
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Well.. I respect Ann Hansen & her cohorts & it was good to read this bk BUT I just ain't down w/ bombings - whether they're done by the government or by radicals. Hansen is honest about their foibles & 'fesses up to the unintentional damage done to Litton Systems employees. Nonetheless, if I had to choose between Hansen & the government, it wd be a no-brainer in favor of DIRECT ACTION.
Dr.  Toxic
Feb 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
An interesting biographical tale of a group who participated in direct actions throughout Canada in the 70's. They got caught. It's interesting how the author writes about how she knows she was in the wrong for participating with these actions, but then goes into some detail on how and what they did. Very educational.
Oct 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Although it was longer than it should have been, I enjoyed this book. I remember some of the events that she describes (which I read about in the anarchist press at the time) and it was fun to be brought back to the era. However, I was struck by how naive the author seemed to be and how little she seemed to know about anarchism. That was strange, I thought.
Apr 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Really interesting book on a group of Urban Guerrillas from Vancouver who commited bombings, fires and other related acts. Those who like the Subhumans (Vancouver-Canada) Gerry Hannah (aka Gerry Useless) the bass player for the Subhumans was involved in the group. They were called the Squamish 5 or the Vancouver 5 by some news papers.
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was pretty well written, but needs some serious editing. Sometimes I felt like I was hearing about every meal she ate and every time she went to the bathroom. Not really, but this is seriously full of a lot of pointless detail.
Sep 22, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: radicals
This is a memoir of a middle-class woman who entered a left-wing direct action cell focused on environmental issues in western Canada. Its a fascinating story, not great writing but a very unique personal history.
Feb 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
the most important thing about this book was its realism; romantic portrayals of direct action typically go untamed by some very real physical and ideological conflicts that both end and mutate radicals and radical movements. this book was art: ugly, exciting and intoxicating.
Jun 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, anarchism
I only give it a high review cause AK Press published it! Though the story was fascinating, her writing style bugged me for some reason.
Jonathan Cromwell
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anarchism, bio
Everybody should read this. Absolutely fantastic.
Sep 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
this is what its all about.
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anarchy
Interesting style and story, kinda didn't like the ending, i felt like i wanted to her more about prison and her mindset there.
rated it it was ok
Jan 25, 2008
Skut L
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Kyle Harris
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Chloe Goodman
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Mar 09, 2015
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