Congrats to Will Potter! His debut book, Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege, has recently been nominated by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best nonfiction books of 2011. I was first introduced Potter’s work through articles he wrote for Satya Magazine on the “chilling effect” of the government crackdown on activists. Potter had been researching how animal and environmental activists became the FBI’s number one domestic terrorist threat. He had also provided testimony against the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Since then, he has been reporting actively on what he calls the “Green Scare” on his blog, and last April, his book compiling years of research was released.
Green is the New Red is a thought-provoking and riveting read that examines several legal cases against activists. He gives particular attention to Operation Backfire, a series of arsons that took place in the late 1990s, as well as the activists arrested for their campaign to Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC7). The book opens with the story of Daniel McGowan, who is also the main subject of recent film If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front.
Green is the New Red embodies one of my favorite forms of writing. It is part memoir, part history, part investigative journalism. Belonging to the school of “new journalism,” where an author acknowledges his role in the story, this book is a thrilling read for both its exhaustive research and the intimate nature of the telling. Potter is reporter, activist and friend. While I find the resulting combined perspective to be one of the book’s greatest strengths, balancing these selves while writing had its challenges:
“No matter how many times I might think I’ve escaped these compartmentalized roles of being either a friend or a journalist, of either being part of the story or telling it, I find that I’m still trying to walk the line between them.” Continue reading