The Frontlines of Peace
An Insider's Guide to Changing the World
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 1 March 2021
Publication date: 1 March 2021
At turns surprising, funny, and gut-wrenching, this is the hopeful story of the ordinary yet extraordinary people who have figured out how to build lasting peace in their communities.
The word “peacebuilding” evokes a story we’ve all heard over and over: Violence breaks out, foreign nations are scandalized, peacekeepers and million-dollar donors come rushing in, warring parties sign a peace agreement and, sadly, within months the situation is back to where it started—sometimes worse. But what strategies have worked to build lasting peace in conflict zones, particularly for ordinary citizens on the ground? And why should other ordinary citizens, thousands of miles away, care?
In The Frontlines of Peace, Séverine Autesserre, award-winning researcher and peacebuilder, examines the well-intentioned but inherently flawed peace industry. With examples drawn from across the globe, she reveals that peace can grow in the most unlikely circumstances. Contrary to what most politicians preach, building peace doesn’t require billions in aid or massive international interventions. Real, lasting peace requires giving power to local citizens.
The Frontlines of Peace tells the stories of the ordinary yet extraordinary individuals and organizations that are confronting violence in their communities effectively. One thing is clear: Successful examples of peacebuilding around the world, in countries at war or at peace, have involved innovative grassroots initiatives led by local people, at times supported by foreigners, often employing methods shunned by the international elite. By narrating success stories of this kind, Autesserre shows the radical changes we must take in our approach if we hope to build lasting peace around us—whether we live in Congo, the United States, or elsewhere.
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“Candidly observes some of the … most absurd mistakes and considers how better to prevent bloodshed in Congo and elsewhere… It would be an improvement on the current malaise, as this timely critique of Peaceland’s denizens and sponsors shows.”
“Autesserre’s portrayal of the aid industry is vivid and damning. . . That Peacelanders may conceive of her ideas as heretical might be the most surprising part of this book. . . It is also what makes her knowledge so essential.”
The New York Times
The book’s evocative and often moving stories all illustrate [Autesserre’s] core insight: that “peace communities” are built at the local level, neighborhood by neighborhood.
“A remarkable book.”
Elisabeth Jean Wood, Crosby Professor of the Human Environment, Yale University
John Paul Lederach, Professor Emeritus of International Peacebuilding, University of Notre Dame
“New insights into one of humanity’s most noble endeavors.”
Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now
“A captivating and inspiring story that invites readers to act.”
Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
“A world in flames should heed her message.”
Gideon Rose, Editor, Foreign Affairs
- Written in a friendly and accessible voice by a leading authority on peacebuilding with over 20 years of experience working in and conducting research on international aid throughout the world
- Focuses on success stories in an ultimately positive and hopeful narrative that encourages readers of all backgrounds to create peace in their own communities
- Draws on in-depth field research in 12 different conflict zones, comparisons with social initiatives in North America and Europe, and interviews with peacebuilders, warlords, victims, survivors, politicians, and local civilians
- Challenges popular beliefs and scholarly ideas about war, peace, and conflict resolution that the diplomatic elite and the general public alike take as fact