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The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  587 ratings  ·  67 reviews
A world dominated by America and driven by cheap oil, easy credit, and conspicuous consumption is unraveling before our eyes. In this powerful, deeply humanistic book, Grace Lee Boggs, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America, shrewdly assesses the current crisis—political, economical, and environmental—and shows how to create the radical social change we ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by University of California Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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4.36  · 
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 ·  587 ratings  ·  67 reviews


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Malik Newton
A straightforward account of what we must do and what is already being done to bring about the next American Revolution. This book speaks simply and honestly about the need for a revolution in a society dominated by violence, alienated from nature (as much as itself), and dying from a lack of imagination, compassion, and (principled) action. The great, late Grace Lee Boggs dismisses as obsolete understandings of revolution that demand masculinists surges and seizures of state power. Instead, she ...more
Dont
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
For nearly a century, leftists have been fixed on the debate over reform or revolution. The problematic surfaces in the most unexpected places, a recently discussed in an issue of the magazine Jacobin dedicated to the problem of copyleft versus intellectual property. Even Paulo Freire weighed in on the debate at one point in his life, arguing that reform must be seen as a learning opportunity on the road to revolution.

Grace Lee Boggs, together with her late husband, radical political thinker Ja
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Drick
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: community-work
Grace Boggs, is a 96 year old community activist from Detroit who writes with the clarity of a veteran and the vision of someone who expects to live another 50 years. In this book Boggs lays out her vision for participatory democracy in the 21st century with such clarity and practicality that it is hard not to believe she has seen the future with the vision of a prophet.I only learned of Grace Boggs about 3 years ago, but until reading this book, I only considered her an interesting figure. Howe ...more
Happyreader
I appreciate the compassionate approach to activism taken by Grace Lee Boggs. So much more productive to focus on what can be accomplished than to get dragged down by opposition. The missing link for me, however, was the economic component. I understand that Dr. Boggs wants us to get beyond our environmentally damaging, soul sucking focus on getting more stuff. At the same time, the reality we live in requires that we earn money to afford safe housing and provide us with adequate healthy food an ...more
Les
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm looking forward to discussing this book in depth or at least attempting to during the salon that I read it for. I really was in lockstep with her on some major points and no where on the same planet that she resides on other key points. It wasn't exactly theoretical, but it was far from concrete. And some of the contradictions were less than helpful. Utopian, but also real in some ways (I know). This was written before the presidential candidate receiving the most votes "failing" to be elect ...more
Glenn
May 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Her veteran status does not forgive her ultra-left errors. Her book presents a disappointing mismatch of ideas without a clear direction. She falls into agreement with many of the same old arguments used against the left. She has a tendency to shy away from speaking truth to power, instead using a muddled and vague vocabulary. On the whole, the book is worryingly appealing on first appearances, which I fear will mislead many well-meaning comrades who would be better-off reading a sturdier concre ...more
Mara
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing


This book is amazing! Grace Lee Boggs is so incredibly inspiring and redefines what it means to be revolutionary. This is a book I will read over and over and over again and quote for the rest of my life. I recommend it to anyone and everyone, especially if you are at all interested in social justice issues.
C
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is basically a soul burrito. You can't smash the system with a burrito, but you can eat it, and be sustained a bit longer. And that's an important part of "working out a strategy that combines a short-run, immediate attempt to solve people's needs and a medium-run strategy of transforming the system" (p. 197). You can try to do one or the other, but things work out best when you do both at once.

I learned about GLB from a PBS special (filmed by Grace Lee of the Grace Lee project, FWIW).
...more
David
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have been waiting for this book all my life. At last, a revolutionary vision that makes sense! Not a bunch of violent macho extremism or ideological puritanism - just a great deal of creative thinking and common sense, distilled over a long lifetime of radical activism (and wide reading).

The book came out in 2011, and it is heartbreaking to read in 2018. The things she says about W's administration were certainly true, but they also sound like what we are living through now, only W's administr
...more
Jay
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A blast of hope in trying times. Highly recommended reading for anyone despairing over our tremendous social problems, inequalities, endless war, environmental destruction, institutionalized racism, broken education system. Read this if you're wondering how the world can possibly change. Are we screwed? Maybe, but maybe not. "Another world is possible."
Eva
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: オススメ
I haven't read a book that made me think & reflect about society and life in a very long time. Grace Lee Boggs will be missed. RIP.
Victoria
i finished this book in literally one day so i'll do a review later i just never want to read again
April
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Annie Windholz
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Grace Lee Boggs is a radical American social activist, philosopher and feminist who has written many books, and pioneered many initiatives in her home town of Detroit. In the 1940s and 1950s she worked closely with Marxist leaders in the US, but in the 1960s she and her husband Jimmy Boggs created their own political direction which Grace continued until the end of her life in 2015. Grace Lee Boggs, of Chinese-American descent, was actively involved in the Black Power movement with her husband.
I
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Nicole
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I set this book down for almost a year after I was half way in. It's fairly intense, but really lovely.

I purchased it because I knew I would enjoy her perspective on the needed revolution. She uses the evolving political ideas of Gandhi, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King to demonstrate the importance of adapting your politics to the changing times. Her message is that we need to create positive alternatives to the state structure instead of rallying against it. She repeatedly addresses how our so
...more
Joshua
GLB has a PhD in philosophy from Bryn Mawr (140).

p.29 - "[A]re we prepared to develop a whole new form of solidarity economics emphasizing sustainability, mutuality, and local self reliance?"

p.64 - six failed axioms of revolutionarie since the French Revolution.

p.71 - "The revolution to be made in the United States will be the first revolution in history to require the masses to make material sacrifices rather than to acquire more material things. We must give up many of the things which this co
...more
Hilary
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is engaging and fun to read but for some reason it's not very memorable. I am amazed by Grace Lee Boggs and so much of the content of this book is affirming and powerful. But as I read it, it feels like the words run through my fingers. For some reason, it just doesn't stick.

There are great sections about King, Gandhi, Love, Beloved Community, and the power of the people. I also love the way she emphasizes our need to grow souls.

reflecting on the ways of working in the 60s: "Our meetin
...more
Fran Darling
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I first hear of Grace on a PBS Point of View Biography video documented by one of Grace's "students." It was so captivating, I researched her and bought her book. Such a serendipitous occasion. I watched the video again by streaming the website which has since replaced it. It can be purchased however: http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index..... It was the perfect introduction to this amazing woman.
She has the never ending enthusiasm for all that activist means and methods that produce real change
...more
Will
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I could not put down this book, which does not happen to me very often with non-fiction. Lee Boggs was a talented writer and a brilliant social philosopher. This book felt like I sat down with my woke grandmother on her cozy window seat with a cup of tea and she told me all about her life and her plan to make the country and the world a much better place. Something about the deeply honest and personal nature of the Lee Boggs' prose made me feel like I was getting a hug the entire time I was read ...more
Anne Harm
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don't often award top ratings, but I think this one earned it; first thing I needed to do upon finishing, was read it again. I gathered a bit more of the scope and detail the second time through; it provoked quite a bit of discussion for book club, as well. In fact I couldn't recall another book in the 2-3 years I've been an active participant of this club (at the local public library), where there was no criticism of the book, the author, the writing, the length, or any other aspect. We had t ...more
Brendan
One of a couple of the most important books I've ever read, hands down.

Read it, and allow yourself to be challenged by the question of what we mean we talk about "revolution." At 100 years old this year (2015), Grace draws on a powerhouse of both lived experience as a movement activist (including close work w/Malcolm X, organizing rallies in Detroit for Dr. King, etc.) and study as someone who was able to get her PhD as a Chinese American woman in 1940 (at points producing some of the first Eng
...more
Daniella
This is a book on Grace Lee's thoughts and of the books that she has read. It's advice for the kind of work political activists should strive for as they move forward while remaining connected to our history but recognizing that new visions and new strategies are needed. It also gives a good sense of the line of thought of the 60s leftists and the leftist movement which is obsolete, in a sense, today. Such ideas, some not her own, raise good questions such as "movements are born of critical conn ...more
Molly Patterson


This is a really important book. It doesn't fit comfortably with academic conventions, but it is a good opportunity to recognize that not everything really-super-important and worth reading follows the current approved conventions of academic discourse (unconventional strategic use of capitalization - gasp! - for instance). What this book suggests, perhaps most profoundly, is that we need to imagine alternatives outside the current standard cures for poverty and urban decay. Assumptions about p
...more
Anna Louisa
Dec 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
In the interest of "knowing our enemies" I thought this would be a relevant book. Enemies is a fitting description, as this person feels she speaks for a large portion of Americans who hate America. She brings up the beauty and success of Detroit, back when it was that capitalist auto capital of the world. Detroit is now so much better, because all those out of work, living on the fringe poverty stricken people now have the opportunity to create a real world for themselves, doing what they reall ...more
Scott Schneider
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Grace Lee Boggs is an amazing human, still contributing to the struggle at 97. Her latest book includes essays on the next A,erican Revolution, Martin and Malcolm, Changing Education as well as a dialogue from the World Social Forum in Detroit in 2010. It is very thoughtful and thought provoking. She makes a strong case that revolution is needed but it isn't a one time thing. It is a process that begins on a small scale through projects like urban gardening to transform social relations from hie ...more
Elizabeth Huff
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I started this book right before I took the GRE and it just filled me with inspiration to do well so I could go to grad school and really change the world. As I continued to read it throughout the week I continued to feel inspired about the power we have as individuals to really make change. Grace has been around for most of the centuries greatest movements and been close with their respective leaders so she has insight into how movements are born and fueled and what movements she sees coming ne ...more
Dawn Matarese
Jan 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the first three chapters, and have to say that this book impacted my thinking and gave me stepping-off points for other books to read, as well. Although I appreciated the message in the later chapters on education and leadership, the writing style put me off a little. It's hard to explain why, but it seemed kind of giddy or too much focused on how amazing the ideas presented must be to the reader. They are good ideas, I just struggled with how they were presented. Definitely wor ...more
Zach
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
I quit this about one-third of the way through. She makes great points about the future of America, capitalism, and the necessity of change, but the entire thing is delivered in the manner of an inspirational commencement address. Yes we need to organize, yes the government has shorted the poor... but how? Do you have examples of things that have or are working? Or is it a call to arms to hold a protest sign and raise awareness.

The book is big on high-minded concepts that sound good on paper but
...more
Meck
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
In revisiting Dr. King's vision of a Beloved Community, Grace Lee Boggs offers such a gift to 21st century movements for social transformation. What else can we do? If we do not achieve such change through non-violence and love - even of those who oppress (which includes ourselves) - then there is no hope for a peaceful world. Coming from a woman who lived through every social revolution of the 20th century - with her eyes wide open - this book is a gift to all of us who seek to create a world t ...more
Reading
Apr 08, 2014 rated it liked it
if your looking for a place to start reading about how to build a new world then consider staying with this book to inspire you.

Pleasant read from a truly unique and inspiring individual but for me, the analysis and plans that the book elucidates felt a bit simplistic. While I appreciate and agree with the content I was hoping for a more detailed account. The stories she shares and the various activists that she cites are a start but that's all.
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“Love isn't about what we did yesterday; it's about what we do today and tomorrow and the day after” 29 likes
“When you read Marx (or Jesus) this way, you come to see that real wealth is not material wealth and real poverty is not just the lack of food, shelter, and clothing. Real poverty is the belief that the purpose of life is acquiring wealth and owning things. Real wealth is not the possession of property but the recognition that our deepest need, as human beings, is to keep developing our natural and acquired powers to relate to other human beings.” 25 likes
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