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The Battle in Seattle:
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman memorably described the tens of thousands of activists who surfaced in Seattle to protest the World Trade Organization in November and December of 1999 as "A Noah's ark of flat-earth advocates, protectionist trade unions, and yuppies looking for their 1960s fix." Janet Thomas is an authentic voice of that movement, and she's confident enough in her views to cite Friedman, and then cast him aside: "The dominant media is entirely a voice for corporate interests." The Battle in Seattle is intended to inspire members of the burgeoning movement who took Seattle by surprise and now seem to show up at every city holding international trade talks to register their disapproval.
Thomas was a participant in the protests and has a wonderful story to tell: "WTO week in Seattle was a global tailspin at the end of the century." Much of her account is impressionistic and written in the first person, but she also attempts to provide an overview of the controversy and explain why it matters. "There was shocking violence perpetrated against peaceful protesters, against unwitting city residents simply doing what they do every day, against demonstrators trying to get home and ordinary citizens trying to get to work, against the unruly and the otherwise," she writes. Thomas is opinionated and never shy about her anticorporate stance: "It's a corporate illness that pervades our culture, and we're all part of the equation." Readers of The Nation and Mother Jones surely will enjoy The Battle in Seattle. Thomas's convictions may represent a growing force as the United States and the rest of the world wrestles with globalization. As the author says in the final words of her book, "Stay tuned." --John J. Miller [via]