Public Affairs
Hardcover $26.99
Necessary Trouble
Americans in Revolt


Necessary Trouble is the definitive book on the movements that are poised to permanently remake American politics. We are witnessing a moment of unprecedented political turmoil and social activism. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the growth of the Tea Party, a twenty-first-century black freedom struggle with BlackLivesMatter, Occupy Wall Street, and the grassroots networks supporting presidential candidates in defiance of the traditional party elites.

Sarah Jaffe leads readers into the heart of these movements, explaining what has made ordinary Americans become activists. As Jaffe argues, the financial crisis in 2008 was the spark, the moment that crystallized that something was wrong. For years, Jaffe crisscrossed the country, asking people what they were angry about, and what they were doing to take power back. She attended a people’s assembly in a church gymnasium in Ferguson, Missouri; walked a picket line at an Atlanta Burger King; rode a bus from New York to Ohio with student organizers; and went door-to-door in Queens days after Hurricane Sandy.

From the successful fight for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle and New York to the halting of Shell’s Arctic drilling program, Americans are discovering the effectiveness of making good, necessary trouble. Regardless of political alignment, they are boldly challenging who wields power in this country.

about Sarah Jaffe

  • Sarah Jaffe is a Nation Institute fellow and an independent journalist covering labor, economic justice, social movements, politics, gender, and pop culture. Her work has appeared in The Nation, Salon, the Week, American Prospect, Washington Post, Atlantic, and many other publications. She is the co-host, with Michelle Chen, of Dissent magazine's Belabored podcast, as well as an editorial board member at Dissent and a columnist at New Labor Forum. Jaffe was formerly a staff writer at In These Times and the labor editor at AlterNet. She was a contributing editor on The 99%: How the Occupy Wall Street Movement is Changing America, from AlterNet books, as well as a contributor to the anthologies At the Tea Party and Tales of Two Cities, both from OR Books. She was also the web director at GRITtv with Laura Flanders.



New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

Necessary Trouble depicts the country as a pot set above the flames of economic discontent, ready to boil over. … [The book] shines in its assessment of why those fault lines exist in the first place. Capitalism, Jaffe argues, promotes instability and class divisions…and her book finds the thread of economic injustice in every tapestry it weaves.” —Vann R. Newkirk II, New York Time Book Review

“Compelling… Jaffe’s book is not only an argument against the atomization of America, it is in itself a force against it.” —Molly Sauter, Los Angeles Times

“The fullest account yet of the social movements that are attempting to transform American politics.” —Tim Barker, London Review of Books

“Jaffe’s effort to put radicalism at the center, not the fringes, of American democracy renders Necessary Trouble a necessary read.” —Carlos Lozada, Washington Post

Necessary Trouble offers the first up-close profile of those who decided to stop waiting for others to fulfill their dreams of a better country—the real revolutionaries of our age. … Only those able to navigate this reinvigorated 21st-century culture of protest can truly understand modern politics. That makes Necessary Trouble required reading.” —David Dayen, The New Republic

“There have been attempts to describe this emerging movement for social justice in book form before. Necessary Trouble is the best so far. … Jaffe is a leading light … delightful and inspiring.” —In These Times

“Scathing…Jaffe guides us through the new lexicon of protest—a world of ‘privilege’, ‘horizontalism’, and microagresions’.” —New Statesman

“A political masterpiece... If you see yourself as a revolutionary, your bookshelf is nothing without this book.” —Dan Arel, Patheos

“A sobering look at the struggles and demands of working Americans, many of whom feel they have been left behind by both Democratic and Republican policies at all levels of government. It provides an extraordinary overview of the newly-revived American labor movement, the push for a more just economy by the everyday people who are navigating the neoliberal status quo, and the forces that brought them into the streets in the first place.” —Kyle Friend, Jobs With Justice

“A highly inspiring book… Read it and join the fray.” —Heather Seggel, The Progressive Populist

“A vital chronicle of current political activism spearheaded by ordinary Americans…A compelling and eloquent read—and activists across the left should give it a read.” —Anna Hamilton, Global Comment

“Striking a tone that simultaneously infuriates and inspires, Jaffe gives a macro-level overview of recent protest movements…with a spare, intelligent style.” —Publishers Weekly

“An in-depth…richly detailed…essential guide to forces shaping our nation and the 2016 presidential election.” –Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Necessary Trouble is American history at its freshest and most compelling. Sarah Jaffe traces the many ways—from left to right—that Americans have risen up in response to the country’s ongoing takeover by the obscenely rich. Sometimes we have to make trouble, a

other editions

  • Hardcover | ISBN 9781568585369
    Pub date: 2016-08-23 | Price: $26.99/35.49 Canada
    Publisher: Nation Books
    6.300 x 9.600 | 352 Pages
    Political Science / Political Process / Political Advocacy
    Social Science / Social Classes
    History / United States / 21st Century

  • eBook | ISBN 9781568585376
    Pub date: 2016-08-23 | Price: $17.99/17.99 Canada
    Publisher: Nation Books
    6.125 x 9.250 | 352 Pages
    Political Science / Political Process / Political Advocacy
    Social Science / Social Classes
    History / United States / 21st Century