Books: Non-Fiction

Firebrands: Portraits from the Americas

Book — Non-fiction. By Shaun Slifer and Bec Young. 2010. 192 pages.
Images and short bios of 78 activists from throughout U.S. history and the Americas. For middle school to adult.

Time Periods: All US History
Themes: Art & Music, Organizing

firebrandsThese beautifully illustrated mini-poster pages showcase radicals, dissidents, folk singers, and rabble-rousers, from Emma Goldman to Tupac, Pablo Neruda to Fred Hampton, from Muhammed Ali to Zumbi dos Palmares, from Alberta to Buenos Aires.

As editors Shaun Slifer and Bec Young say in the introduction, the book “is especially made for anyone who has sat, trembling with frustration and disappointment in history class, or reading a text book heavily edited of anything interesting or useful. It’s for all our ancestors, especially for the ones left out of or misrepresented in said textbook, because they were too brown, too female, too poor, too queer, too uneducated, too disabled, or because they felt or thought too much.” This is a real people’s history, a book packed with dynamite, desire, and, above all, courage. [Publisher’s description.]

The introduction by Taylor Sparrow quotes C.L.R. James: “We were not able to choose the mess we were born into — this collapse of a whole society — but we are able to choose our way out.” The 78 people featured in this book,  as Sparrow explains “found a way,whether big or small, to stand up against things that were oppressing them. Living a more full life is a choice, and and up can make it — at any time.” This book provides the inspiration and ideas about how to find a way out and create a world where everyone can pursue that more full life.

The book is dedicated to Howard Zinn. Curated by the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative.

ISBN: 9781934620687 | Microcosm Publishing


Sample Pages

Yuri Kochiyama (May 19, 1921 – Present). Portrait by Alec Icky Dunn.

Pablo Neruda (July 12, 1904 – September 23, 1973). Portrait by Erik Ruin.

James Tiptree Jr. (August 24, 1915 – May 19, 1987). Portrait by Roger Peet.

John Brown (May 9, 1800 – December 2, 1859). Portrait by Alec Icky Dunn.