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In her previous book, Peaceland, SÚverine Autesserre wrote an instant classic, diagnosing the ills of contemporary peacebuilding. The Frontlines of Peace she goes farther and offers solutions. She argues that peace initiatives have to come from the bottom up. Outsiders can have a meaningful impact, but only by stepping back, offering technical support and letting locals lead. But she does not shy away from the barriers that exist to such a simple solution.
Autesserre writes from authority, from many years working for a variety of prominent peace NGOs in Congo, Afghanistan, Kosovo and elsewhere, and from well over a decade of academic study drawing on hundreds of interviews. The Frontlines of Peace is not a typical academic book: it's written to have a general impact, and so it's highly accessible and zeros in on a cast of inspiring characters.
 

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The Frontlines of Peace is a sincere and informative ray of light in the all-too-often bleak genre of peace literature. Autesserre focuses her piercing gaze on her own peace community, termed “Peaceland,” as well as the dominant top-down and often corporate-esque methods of peacebuilding, which she has aptly labeled “Peace, Inc.” She astutely critiques the culture, politics, and methodology espoused by both, sprinkling in witticisms and tender anecdotes. Cushioning these criticisms are stories of what grassroots leaders have done right, and the ways that they have been supported (or not) by the peace community. This book pulls from peacebuilding and keeping theory to investigate the nuance of on the ground peacebuilding, illuminating unintended consequences for better and for worse.
It is my opinion that any reader can enjoy this book, whether she has an intimate knowledge of the peace world or is simply interested in the humanity undergirding it all. I found myself smiling at the successes Autesserre describes and wincing when Peacelanders missed the bottom-up boat time and time again. Importantly, she takes ownership for her own role in all of the above, peering inward to apply her observations to her own actions and preconceptions. The Frontlines of Peace serves as the reader’s ticket into those behind-closed-doors meetings and intimate town halls that are the foundations of peacebuilding. In reading it, I felt as though I had come across my ticket earnestly, and that Autesserre was a scholarly and attentive guide to help me make sense of it all.
 

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In times that feel increasingly divided, SÚverine Autesserre’s The Frontlines of Peace is full of hope. Her work will both motivate and provide you with the tools to build peace in your own community and beyond, built upon insight from years of firsthand experience and careful research.
Autesserre shares breathtaking stories of triumph and heartbreak with love and empathy for every person and place you meet in this book. She is deeply honest with the reader, letting you into her world, so that you are right with her on the ground in conflict zones and in the gatherings of elite peacebuilders.
What makes this story unique is that Autesserre doesn’t focus on the wrong. Instead, she focuses on where peacebuilding has been successful and explains how these processes can be repeated. Her lessons are for everyone, not only those in the peacebuilding industry, but any reader looking to build peace in their own neighborhood. I believe the subtitle is perfectly apt; Autesserre’s ideas really have the power to change the world.
 

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Severine Autesserre is my personal hero. If you read this book, she will become yours too.
I first discovered Severine's writing when I read her first two books as a young teenager. Instantly, I
was hooked. Her stories are so mind-blowing yet from-the-heart. Her characters can sometimes be infuriating yet so very endearing. Her way of writing is both accessible and sophisticated. Can you blame me when I tell you I sent her 'fan mail' after reading her first book at age 15?
It was because of Severine that I ultimately decided to go to Barnard College (where she works as a professor). I have taken classes with her, been her advisee, and served as her research assistant. She is one of the most brilliant, kind, and thoughtful people I have ever met. It's truly an honor to know this author.
But that's not why you should read this book. No, why you should read this book is because it's a brilliant, heart-warming, hopeful portrait of the ways in which we can build peace in an otherwise divided world. It's a candle burning in the dark, a sliver of hope for a more peaceful, more just way to live. It's a refreshing take on conflict that could potentially change the way we look at peace.
This book is a must-read. And that's not just because the author is awesome, which she is. But it's because this book is truly revolutionary.
 

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