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Amy Goodman visits Left Bank to talk about ordinary heroes

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 28, 2009 - Amy Goodman, host of the nationally syndicated radio and television program "Democracy Now!" is coming to the downtown branch of  Left Bank Books April 30. Goodman will be featured at a lunch discussion and will be signing her latest book "Standing Up to the Madness."

A New York Times bestseller published last year, Goodman's book celebrates ordinary people who, faced with unusual circumstances, stood up to defend freedom and democracy despite the certainty of risk to change America for the better. Previously, she has written Static, and Exception to the Rulers.

In "Standing Up to the Madness," Goodman and her brother David tell stories as celebrated as the Watergate-era leaking of the "Pentagon Papers" by Daniel Ellsberg, to unsung heroes like Connecticut librarian George Christian who refused to allow two FBI agents access to his membership records, after they demanded them under the rights-diluting Patroit Act, which was meant to ferret out terrorists.

The book tells 12 stories of freedom, including the Soweto uprisings, the Montgomery bus boycott and the "Jena Six" racial drama involving a Louisiana public high school.

The stories are divided into four sections: "Standing Up to the Madness," featuring particularly egregious government intrusions; "Science Under Siege," including a surprising NASA story; "Students Standing Up," with stories including the Jena Six; and "Soldiers of Conscious" with vignettes involving military personnel who denounced the violence of war and turned to peace activities.

The book is well footnoted and draws in part on Democracy Now!'s own files on many of the stories. The concluding chapter of "Standing Up" gives practical advice for identifying and attacking injustice. While obviously pointed to the rights-bending tactics of the George W. Bush administration that was in power as the book was being developed, "Standing Up to the Madness" serves as a call to be wary of the chief executives that run countries or companies, lest our freedoms be eroded or lost.

"Now more than ever, it is imperative that we defend our liberties," the Goodmans write. "Speak truth to power. Fight for those who can't. Demand peace, and end the bloodshed. And save our struggling planet."

Jim Orso is a freelance writer.

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