Why do some promising ideas take root, and others never bear fruit? In this dazzling big ideas book, award-winning author Gal Beckerman shows how history is made.
We tend to think of revolutions as loud- frustrations and demands shouted in the streets. But the ideas fuelling them have traditionally been conceived in much quieter spaces, in the small, secluded corners where a vanguard can whisper among themselves, imagine alternate realities, and deliberate over how to get there. This extraordinary book is a search for those spaces, over centuries and across continents, and a warning that they might soon go extinct.
The Quiet Before is a grand panorama, stretching from the seventeenth century correspondence that jumpstarted the scientific revolution to the mass movement of the Chartists, the liberation movement on the Gold Coast and the underground network of samizdat publications in Soviet Russia - even the encrypted apps used by epidemiologists fighting the pandemic in the shadow of an inept administration. Beckerman shows that defining social movements-from decolonization to feminism-thrive when they are given the time and space to gestate.
Now, Facebook and Twitter are replacing these productive, private spaces with monolithic platforms that are very public and endlessly networked. Why did the Arab Spring fall apart and Occupy Wall Street never gain traction? Has Black Lives Matter lived up to its full potential? Beckerman reveals what this new social media ecosystem lacks-everything from patience to focus-and offers a recipe for growing radical ideas again.
Lyrical and profound, The Quiet Before looks to the past to help us imagine a different future.