Why Dissent Matters: Because Some People See Things the Rest of Us Miss

Why Dissent Matters: Because Some People See Things the Rest of Us Miss

by William Kaplan
  • general-other-non-fiction
  • history-politics-current-affairs

An inquiry into dissent and how it might save the world. Frances Kelsey was a quiet Canadian doctor and scientist who stood up to a huge pharmaceutical company wanting to market a new drug - thalidomide - and prevented an American tragedy. The nature writer Rachel Carson identified an emerging environmental disaster and pulled the fire alarm. Public protests, individual dissenters, judges, and juries can change the world - and they do. A wide-ranging and provocative work on controversial subjects, Why Dissent Matters tells a story of dissent and dissenters - people who have been attacked, bullied, ostracized, jailed, and, sometimes when it is all over, celebrated. William Kaplan shows that dissent is noisy, messy, inconvenient, and almost always time-consuming, but that suppressing it is usually a mistake - it’s bad for the dissenter but worse for the rest of us. Drawing attention to the voices behind international protests such as Occupy Wall Street and Boycott, Divest, and Sanction, he contends that we don’t have to do what dissenters want, but we should listen to what they say.

Our problems are not going away. Why Dissent Matters may well lead to a different and more just future.


William Kaplan, author

William Kaplan is a lawyer and author of many books, including A Secret Trial: Brian Mulroney and the Public Trust.<>/em


  • Persuasive…dissent is often conservative and essentially responsible, a way not to destroy institutions but to fix them. - Robert Fulford, The National Post
  • Provocative, controversial…a passionate and powerful argument for the absolute necessity of listening to differing points of view. - The Winnipeg Free Press
  • Kaplan’s simple, single idea is that voices that speak out against the consensus are valuable, desirable, the sine qua non of good decision-making. His book is well written, with plenty of interesting asides and intelligent observations. - Times Literary Supplement

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: McGill-Queen's University Press

email: natalie.blachere@mcgill.ca

website: www.mqup.ca

rights available: World

Additional Information

number of pages: 376

publication date: 06/01/2017

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: finished book