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McGill-Queen's University Press Backlist Bestsellers

Why Dissent Matters
Because Some People See Things the Rest of Us Miss
By (author): William Kaplan
William Kaplan


McGill-Queen's University Press



Product Form:



Jun 01, 2017
$34.95 CAD


229 x 152 x 33.02 mm | 680 gr

Page Count:

376 pages


39 photos, 6 maps
McGill-Queen's University Press
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General
  • Short Description
An inquiry into dissent and how it might save the world.
An inquiry into dissent and how it might save the world.

Frances Kelsey was a quiet Canadian doctor and scientist who stood up to a huge pharmaceutical company wanting to market a new drug - thalidomide - and prevented an American tragedy. The nature writer Rachel Carson identified an emerging environmental disaster and pulled the fire alarm. Public protests, individual dissenters, judges, and juries can change the world - and they do. A wide-ranging and provocative work on controversial subjects, Why Dissent Matters tells a story of dissent and dissenters - people who have been attacked, bullied, ostracized, jailed, and, sometimes when it is all over, celebrated. William Kaplan shows that dissent is noisy, messy, inconvenient, and almost always time-consuming, but that suppressing it is usually a mistake - it’s bad for the dissenter but worse for the rest of us. Drawing attention to the voices behind international protests such as Occupy Wall Street and Boycott, Divest, and Sanction, he contends that we don’t have to do what dissenters want, but we should listen to what they say. Our problems are not going away. There will always be abuses of power to confront, wrongs to right, and new opportunities for dissenting voices to say, "Stop, listen to me." Why Dissent Matters may well lead to a different and more just future.

William Kaplan is a lawyer and author of many books, including A Secret Trial: Brian Mulroney and the Public Trust.

"A brave and powerful book." Constance Backhouse, University of Ottawa

“Passionate and forceful.” Margaret MacMillan, University of Oxford

“Applying a historical analysis to various kinds of dissent through the past century, and focusing on figures as diverse as Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) and Occupy Wall Street's Micah White, Kaplan illustrates the validity of protest as a means of social change.” The Quill & Quire

"Kaplan's simple, single idea is that voices that speak out against the consensus are valuable, desirable, the sine qua non of good decision-making. His book is well written, with plenty of interesting asides and intelligent observations." Times Literary

“Kaplan’s latest and most powerful book, Why Dissent Matters, is especially timely.” ipoiltics

“Kaplan has it exactly right: the reason to listen to dissenters is that humans are fallible.” Andrew Potter, The Literary Review of Canada

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