Mountain Area Information Network

Standing Up to the Madness

By Amy Goodman and David Goodman
Hyperion Books
250 pp.

Reviewed by Sharon Shervington

“Standing Up to the Madness, Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times,” the brilliant new book by Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and her brother David Goodman, is a kaleidoscopic “stream” directly to the hearts and minds of an American populace who fear for our democracy.

The pair focuses on the most important issues of our time and puts them in a historical context that is overwhelmingly missing in today’s lockstep “Big Media” coverage.

The book is an unflinching portrayal of topics as diverse as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; the intersection of Big Energy and Academia; T-shirts and Terrorism; Torture and the American Psychological Association, and what really happened in the Jena Six case in rural Louisiana.

Throughout, the Goodmans prove once again that they are at the top of their game. Seamlessly meshed are reportorial skills honed to a knife-edge, clear prose, and a completely fresh vision. Each of the four primary sections of the book begins with a historical turning point. First is the Montgomery Bus Boycott from which the book segues into the chapter on Hurricane Katrina.

Though the Katrina story was widely covered, at times the foreign reportage exceeded in quality and depth what was available from U.S. outlets. So this is something of a redemption.

Here, the story is told primarily through the eyes of a veteran community organizer, Malik Rahim. His story unfolds side by side with the story of how our government enabled profiteering from the disaster. For example we find: “The funeral company Kenyon, a division of Service Corporation International, a large donor to President Bush, was paid $12,500 per corpse it retrieved.”

In the chapter on students standing up for the right to free speech and against racism, the Goodmans introduce the material with a brief section on the Soweto upraising.

While much of the material is of course very dark, the book leaves us with hope. One gets the sense that as a nation we will get through. Amy Goodman and David Goodman, with great force and sensitivity, remind us that it is our duty to stand up, even if it is one person at a time.


Sharon Shervington is director of development for MAIN and WPVM. She is a former editor at the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.