After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance
by Anne Sibley O’Brien and Perry Edmond O’Brien
An extraordinarily powerful and moving book, After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance brings together a gallery of non-violent peace activists, whose actions, it is no exaggeration to say, changed the course of history. Those changes may not have been immediately apparent but the seeds they sowed through “nonviolent resistance” sent out roots into future generations, whose freedom stemmed – and still stems – from that spark of resistance that these stories chronicle.
Fittingly, the book’s introduction is given over to Gandhi himself, who “was not the first leader to use nonviolent methods to challenge injustice, but he developed new strategies involving tens of thousands of people in mass actions and demonstrated the power of nonviolence on a scale never seen before.” This is key to the book’s message – young readers will respond to these inspirational stories because each individual form of resistance created a groundswell among the people, which then became the true instrument for change: whether it was Rosa Park’s actions in Alabama giving rise to the Civil Rights Movement; Charles Perkins’ fight for Aboriginal rights in Australia; the Madres de Plaza de Mayo marching for their disappeared children in Argentina; Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams bringing mothers together to march for peace in Northern Ireland; Aung San Suu Kyi’s constant resistance to the military regime in Burma; student activists in China in a “war between love and hatred, not between force and force” that reached its climax in Tiananmen Square in 1989; or Václav Havel’s leading role in Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution. Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnam), Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Martin Luther King, Jr. (USA), César Chávez (USA), Muhammad Ali (USA), Desmond Tutu (South Africa) and Wangari Maathai (Kenya) are all also represented – as well as, in the final profile, the thousands of people who came together across the globe in 2003 to protest against the war in Iraq.
The books’ layout is very attractive, using a variety of fonts to good effect. Interestingly, there are no photographs but each section is introduced with a double-page illustration and carries a portrait, both depicted in black and white. Quotations are highlighted throughout the book in red bands across the page; a world map at the beginning pin-points all the locations highlighted; and there is an annotated bibliography at the end.
With After Gandhi, mother-and-son team Anne Sibley O’Brien and Perry Edmond O’Brien show the key role nonviolent movements for social justice have played in our history. The array of exceptional individuals it features – all catalysts for peaceful citizen action – is sure to inspire a new generation of young readers to take their philosophy forward in their own lives.