Review Blog

Aug 15 2016

Breaking the boundaries: Australian activists tell their stories edited by Yvonne Allen and Joy Noble

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Wakefield Press, 2016. ISBN 9781743054185
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Editors and activists Yvonne Allen and Joy Noble have collected the personal stories of forty-five Australians who have campaigned for change. Breaking the boundaries provides a fascinating insight into their lives. The causes they have espoused include conservation, climate change, Indigenous disadvantage, support for refugees, overseas aid, fundraising for medical research, the decriminalisation of sex work, disability awareness, voluntary euthanasia, the acceptance of transgender people, food security and pacifism. The age and backgrounds of the activists are as diverse as their campaigns. Some embraced activism as school students while others decided to make a difference after retirement. Their reasons for choosing such a challenging path are revealing and their practical advice about how to campaign effectively is drawn from experience. Remarkably, despite the difficulties, not one expressed regret and several found humour in their experiences. Above all, the stories reveal humanity and determination.
While some of the information in Breaking the boundaries is available on the Internet, online sources are unlikely to have the impact of first-person narratives. Each feature-length story provides readers with an insight into the unique voice, point of view and experience of its narrator, and ends with a brief biographical note written by the editors. Many readers will enjoy reading the book from cover to cover in order to immerse themselves in the variety of ways in which individual Australians have pursued their causes. However, others might have preferred the inclusion of an index to facilitate selective reading and study.
The editors hope that their book will prompt others to take action. Those who are willing to take up causes will not lack inspiration after reading Breaking the boundaries.
Elizabeth Bor

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