Common Courage Press
Books for an Informed Democracy
1 Red Barn Road
Monroe, ME 04951
By publishing books for social justice, Common Courage Press helps progressive ideas to find a place in our culture. The press provides a platform to spread these ideas to activists and ordinary citizens alike. It has sold a total of over one million copies since its founding in 1991, and its books have been translated and reprinted in 24 countries.
Skillfully edited, graphically striking, and popularly accessible, Common Courage books explore corporate power, ecology, race, gender, economics, health, welfare, and media politics, and U.S. policy from Central America to the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Its authors include Noam Chomsky (The New Military Humanism), Howard Zinn (The Future of History), Jean Bertrand Aristide (Eyes of the Heart), Jennifer Harbury (Bridge of Courage), Philip Berrigan (Fighting the Lamb's War), Norman Solomon (The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media), Judi Bari (Timber Wars), Sheldon Rampton & John Stauber (Toxic Sludge Is Good For You), Physicians for National Health Care co-founders David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler (Bleeding the Patient), Edward Said (The Pen and the Sword), Mike Males (The War on Youth), Peter Breggin (The War Against Children of Color), Phyllis Chesler (Patriarchy), and Paul Farmer (The Uses of Haiti).
These books and others have made a strong impact through major media coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Review of Books, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Journal of the American Medical Association, among other outlets. More important, the press has given a voice to people and organizations who might otherwise never have been heard, and inspired many who might otherwise have stayed silent.
Project Censored has repeatedly highlighted stories revealed in Common Courage books on their yearly list of the most censored published material. In 1999, they selected Karl Grossman's work exposing the likelihood that shuttle and other launches carrying plutonium-powered satellites could fall back to Earth, as featured in his book, The Wrong Stuff. In 1997, they selected two adaptations from Toxic Sludge Is Good for You! by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton. They also chose Mike Hudson's work in The Nation, drawn from his Merchants of Misery.
Common Courage often publishes books that larger houses deem too controversial. Genetic engineering expose Against the Grain, for instance, was due to be published by a major publisher, until Monsanto wrote a threatening letter, and the original publisher pulled it. Common Courage then published the book, even though authors Marc Lappe and Britt Bailey warned the press about potential liability issues. A local paper asked co-editor Greg Bates if the press had liability insurance. "Yes, we do, as does every American," Bates replied. "It's called the First Amendment."
Against the Grain ended up helping activists working on politics of genetics. And Common Courage works closely with a wide array of activist citizens' groups:
Global Exchange co-founder Kevin Danaher has written three books for the press on the corporatization of the global economy.
Prison Legal News has made great use of The Celling of America.
Physicians for a National Health Plan used Bleeding the Patient to promote the need for universal health care; California consumer rights groups used Making a Killing in their fights against HMOs; and Dying for Growth and Women Poverty and AIDS helped raise awareness for Partners in Health.
The Center for Public Integrity produced and promoted Citizen Muckracking, as did the Center for Media and Democracy with Toxic Sludge Is Good For You and Mad Cow USA.
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting raised money by giving away the four books of Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen as a membership premium, along with Laura Flanders' Real Majority Media Minority.
When Marla Felcher wrote It's No Accident, about corporations' inadequate testing of baby products, Common Courage gave out free copies to the citizen's group Kids in Danger, so they could hand them out to sympathetic Congresspeople.
Paul Farmer's and Jean Bertrand Aristide's royalties go to help Haiti; and Jennifer Harbury's royalties from Bridge of Courage: Life Stories of the Guatemalan Companeros and Companeras, to Guatemalan efforts for justice. Harbury's Guatemalan husband, Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, was captured, tortured, and killed by the Guatemalan military. After publishing the book, the Common Courage editors helped publicize Harbury's struggles to find out what happened to her husband, including hunger strikes that triggered a US Congressional investigation and revealed the CIA's high-level involvement with the Guatemalan military.
Father Javier Giraldo, head of Colombia's Inter-Congregational Commission of Peace and Justice, risked his life to publish Colombia: The Genocidal Democracy. His book has become a core resource for the Colombia Support Network. Shortly after it was published, a woman who'd left Colombia telephoned Common Courage editor Greg Bates to describe how her friends had been rounded up by the Colombian military in a recent operation, and no one expected to hear from them again. She said that press, by publishing Giraldo's book, gave her hope to proceed onward.
As a handful of huge corporations control more and more of the flow of ideas, Common Courage offers an important way for alternative voices to be heard.