Occupy Wall Street burst onto the stage of history in the fall of 2011.
First by the tens, then by the tens of thousands, protestors filled the streets and laid claim to the squares of nearly 1,500 towns and cities, until, one by one, the occupations were forcibly evicted.
In The Occupiers, Michael Gould-Wartofsky-one of the first social scientists on the ground in Zuccotti Park-offers a front-seat view of the action in the streets of New York City and beyond.
Painting a vivid picture of everyday life in the square through the use of material gathered in the course of a year of participant observation, Gould-Wartofksy traces the occupation of Zuccotti Park-and some of its counterparts across the United States and around the world-from inception to eviction.
He takes up the challenges the occupiers faced, the paradoxes of direct democracy, and the dynamics of direct action and police action and explores the ways in which occupied squares became focal points for an emerging opposition to the politics of austerity, restricted democracy, and the power of corporate America. Much of the discourse on the Occupy phenomenon has treated it as if it lived and died in Zuccotti Park, but Gould-Wartofsky follows the evicted occupiers into exile and charts the evolving strategies of the movement as it seeks to resist, regroup, and reoccupy.
Removed from public spaces and news headlines, Occupy has spread out from the financial centers and across an America still struggling to recover in the aftermath of the crisis.
Even if the movement fails to achieve radical reform, Gould-Wartofksy maintains, it may well accelerate the pace of change in the United States in the years to come.