Rockin’ the Boat

50 Iconic Revolutionaries – From Joan of Arc to Malcolm X

by Jeff Fleischer


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We love to root for the underdog, and when it comes to underdogs, few are more impressive than the world’s great revolutionaries.

After all, it’s pretty hard to find a more powerful opponent than the world’s biggest empires and emperors. And that’s part of why we’re drawn to the stories of revolutionaries. Many of these men and women were born into virtual dystopias, and they fought throughout their lives, against all odds, to forge a path to a better future. And whether they succeeded, failed, or succeeded only to become a new kind of enemy, there’s something inherently fascinating about that effort to change the world.

Rockin’ the Boat tells the stories of fifty such iconoclasts  including the gladiator Spartacus, the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca, the inspired religious fighter Joan of Arc, the abolitionist John Brown, women’s rights icon Margaret Sanger, and Maori chief Hono Heke  from an incredibly diverse set of places and times. Each entry includes a mix of history, biography, and analysis, and is supplemented with photos, sidebars, and an incredible amount of trivia as well.

As a result, Rockin’ the Boat provides a unique and powerful view of history  a view from the bottom up, through the eyes of people who dared to imagine a different world from the one in which they lived.

“A gallery of historical troublemakers starting with Hannibal and ending with Martin Luther King, Jr. …Snarky picture captions (“Emma Goldman is not interested in your nonsense”) and sidebar references to pop culture further lighten the overall tone. Still, the author does not soft-pedal the brutality to which some of his subjects turned, however idealistic they may have started out, or the violent ends to which many of them came. …Salutary portraits in radicalism.” Kirkus Reviews

“A lively narrative, an accessible length (while the profiles are dense, they are kept to roughly four pages each), and deadpan humor—particularly in captions (George Washington is ‘tight in tights’ and Sitting Bull ‘sits bullishly’)—allow for irreverent, edifying reading.” Publishers Weekly

“The strong point of this book is Fleischer’s understanding of his audience; his grasp of history is impressive as well. Teens are tired of textbooks that shelter them from the realities of the world, so he provides controversy and faces brutality, disenfranchisement, and disillusionment head on, giving the facts behind what teens already suspect: history and social change are complicated.”Foreword Reviews

“Readers expecting all the revolutionaries to be virtuous do-gooders will be in for a surprise. Whether they read cover to cover or dip in, they will find many treats to further explore.” Booklist

Product Details

  • Ages 14+
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Zest Books; Original edition (March, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-936976-74-4

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Categories: HISTORY

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