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Make It a Green Peace! The Rise of a Countercultural Environmentalism

By: Frank Zelko(Author)
385 pages, 25 b/w photos
Make It a Green Peace!
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  • Make It a Green Peace! ISBN: 9780190610777 Paperback Apr 2017 In stock
  • Make It a Green Peace! ISBN: 9780199947089 Hardback May 2013 Usually dispatched within 5 days
Selected version: £18.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Make it a Green Peace! explores the complex intellectual and cultural roots of Greenpeace, tracing the development of the organization from its emergence amidst the various protest movements of the 1950s and 1960s to the end of its volative, dramatic, and at times quirky first decade in 1980. After that time, Zelko argues, Greenpeace changed little from its original template. By then it had grown into an international environmental powerhouse centered in Europe, with a complex hierarchical structure and branch offices in numerous countries. Today it is the world's most recognized environmental group and its logo is almost as familiar as Coca Cola's or McDonald's in western countries.

Still largely associated with direct action, Greenpeace continues to hold onto its radical and hip image, even though it has become part of the environmental establishment. Its present-day activities range from lobbying governments and inter-governmental agencies, such as the International Whaling Commission, to sponsoring the production of new technologies, like environmentally friendly refrigerators and automobiles. Despite its prominence and influence, the institutional that Greenpeace has become is not necessarily what its founders had in mind. Throughout its early history there were moments when it might have ended or it might have become more of a grassroots social movement; instead, from internecine struggles, it has retained its direct action style and adamant holism that first set it apart in the 1970s and imbued its participants with unique elan.

Zelko sets Greenpeace within the broader context of its emergence, from founders influence by occult sciences, theosopy, biospheric holism, Asian religious and spiritual traditions, and mind-expanding drugs, especially LSD. These phenomena created a group with a deep disenchantment with modernity's destructive trappings. As a social movement, founders were particularly influenced by Gandhi-inspired peace and anti-nuclear protests. Narrating the key campaigns and arguments among the group's early members, Zelko shows how Greenpace developed into a tightly controlled international NGO, rather than a loose-knit social movement such as Occupy Wall Street. Drawing upon meeting minutes, internal correspondence, and numerous interviews with former Greenpeacers, as well as philosophical writings, manifestos, and personal accounts by thinkers within the group, Zelko has written the much-anticipated definitive history of the origins of Greenpeace.



1. Speak Truth to Power
2. The Enemies of Anarchy
3. The Canadian Crucible
4. Don't Make a Wave
5. Muroroa, Mon Amour
6. Showdown with the Force de Frappe
7. Armless Buddhas vs Carnivorous Nazis
8. The Reenchanted Whale
9. Stop Ahab
10. On Thin Ice
11. Blood and Death and Sex
12. The Paradox of Power: The Birth of Greenpeace International


Customer Reviews


Frank Zelko is Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont.

By: Frank Zelko(Author)
385 pages, 25 b/w photos
Media reviews

"Zelko's deeply researched and well-written book represents an important and invigorating contribution to the historiography of modern environmentalism. Make It a Green Peace! [...] should encourage more historians to adopt a transnational approach to the subject. The book's impressive research, thoughtful analysis, and accessible prose will entertain and enlighten any reader interested in the history of environmentalism."
– Finis Dunaway, Environmental History

"Make It a Green Peace! is a valuable addition to the history of twentieth-century environmentalism and the development of a particularly robust form of world civic politics. [...] Greenpeace has been surprisingly underanalyzed by environmental historians; Frank Zelko fills this void. [...] Zelko paints a vibrant portrait of the characters, episodes, and social contexts that defined Greenpeace to 1980. The book will change the way we teach and understand the interplay between the counterculture, the peace movement, global environmentalism, and environmental direct action. [...] [T]his book is the rare scholarly text that is informative, a pleasure to read, and even occasionally funny."
Journal of American History

"Readers [...] will find Make It a Green Peace! [...] an intimately researched and refreshingly enjoyable read [...] What stands out most is the magnificent writing. This book has enough excitement to be considered for a television docudrama series [...] Most chapters have passages that could be mistaken for dramatic fiction, and Zelko has recorded all of the tension, frustration, and comedy that ensue with each turn of events. Many of the core members had radical (and often opposing) views, and Zelko flawlessly captures these dynamics."
– Brock Ternes, Environmental Politics

"Wonderfully written and deeply researched, at its core Make It a Green Peace! is an institutional history tracing the creation, evolution, and finally establishment of the renowned environmental organization Greenpeace [...] Zelko tells this story by focusing on the complex relationships among an array of individuals who played a part in Greenpeace's evolution from a grassroots group born out of the anti-nuclear movement of the 1950s into a professionalized environmental organization with thousands of members and a global reach."
– Michael Childers, American Historical Review

"Early Greenpeace pioneers have written their own entertaining memoirs, but this densely sourced narrative is the definitive independent account, especially of the early years – and is highly readable."
New Scientist

"Make it a Green Peace! is the best kind of history. Frank Zelko has managed to write an analysis of the founding and early years of Greenpeace that is both intelligent and very entertaining. Anyone who wants to understand modern environmentalism should read this book."
– Kurk Dorsey, author of Whales and Nations: Environmental Diplomacy on the High Seas

"This must be the definitive history of Greenpeace. Meticulously researched and immensely readable, it gives us the whole story, from grassroots hippies in Vancouver to global activism. Zelko's book is full of fresh insights about environmental issues, politics and ideas, and the individuals behind the rise of this remarkable international organization."
– Christof Mauch, European Society for Environmental History

"The story of Greenpeace is both astonishing and important – and Frank Zelko tells the story brilliantly. Make It a Green Peace! is a witty and wise account of one of the defining environmental groups of our time."
– Adam Rome, author of The Genius of Earth Day

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