Justice ignited: the dynamics of backfire

Brian Martin


Brian Martin, Justice Ignited: The Dynamics of Backfire (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007)

Available direct from Rowman & Littlefield


Prepublication versions of the text are available here.

Entire book (3.2MB)


1. Introduction

2. Sharpeville

3. Dili

4. Dharasana

5. The beating of Rodney King

6. Target: whistleblowers

7. The dismissal of Ted Steele

8. Environmental disasters (co-author: Hannah Lendon)

9. The invasion of Iraq

10. Abu Ghraib (co-author: Truda Gray)

11. Countershock: challenging push-button torture (co-author: Steve Wright)

12. Terrorism as predictable backfire

13. Theory and backfire

14. Conclusion

Appendix. Methods of inhibiting and amplifying outrage from injustice

From the back cover

Attacks can backfire on attackers - sometimes spectacularly. In March 1991, an observer videotaped several Los Angeles police beating Rodney King with their batons. Shown on television, the beating caused enormous damage to the reputation of the police and led to the chief's resignation. This incident and others, such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 1965 surveillance of Ralph Nader, prove that all sorts of attacks can backfire, from torture and massacres to job dismissals and reprisals against whistleblowers. Through numerous detailed case studies, Justice Ignited presents the first comprehensive treatment of the dynamics of backfire. Understanding backfire - both promoting and inhibiting it - is vitally important for activists and anyone else who wants to be effective in the face of injustice.

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