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Reader’s Review, October 2012

By John D. Baker

You And What Army? How to Neutralize Conflict and Negotiate Justice:
For the Totally Outgunned, Inwardly Timid, Burned Out or Socially Defunct

By Lisa Bracken
868pp. Silt, Colorado: New Flight Books, 2011
Paperback (USA) $60.00

Lisa Bracken has written repeatedly for this magazine, most recently a three-part series entitled “Hydraulic Fracturing: A Controversy and A Case for Evolved Negotiations.” The subject of this review is her recent book titled You And What Army?

Ms. Bracken has been involved in a decade-long conflict between residents of the small community of Silt, Colorado and members of the Colorado oil and gas industry over the use of hydraulic fracturing as a part of their drilling operations in her area. Hydraulic fracturing involves the pumping of water and chemicals at high pressure into well bores to release gas through opening new fissures in the surrounding rock.

This book is the product of Ms. Bracken’s long struggle against the practice of fracturing and her expanding role an activist leader of the broad anti-fracturing movement. You And What Army? is, in a very real sense, her manual on how to conduct effectively such a campaign against an industry with superior wealth, positioning and resources.

In this book, the anti-fracturing movement is the focus of attention with its effort to change the exploratory methods of the natural gas industry and thereby alter one of the fundamental dynamics of its enterprise. On a broader scale, of course, this book is a potential template for the operation and management of a wide variety of social, environmental or economic movements.

Central to the work is Ms. Bracken’s fundamental approach which she calls “Evolved Negotiation.” Essentially, “Evolved Negotiation” rests on the old principle that a war is made-up and won through a series of individual battles. Because of the over-powering strength of the forces of the status quo, movements opposed to such entrenched positions can win only by being able to effectively harness multiple social forces, changing societal perceptions and mobilizing separate entities through overarching mission statements and coordinated coalitions.

The techniques for an evolved negotiation campaign form the core of this book. You will find extensive discussions of “the coordination and management” of each of the following key aspects of the approach: situational analysis, strategic planning and implementation, educational outreach, affiliation and the development of partnerships, building and maintaining momentum, and exercising leveraged advantage (p. 52).

Ms. Bracken has divided the book into fifteen major chapters and provided dozens of subtitles to enhance the accessibility of her topics. In addition to the major topics, readers will find field tested techniques, a legion of illustrative examples, and no absence of mission messages. Additionally, there are a wide-variety of worksheets and review materials throughout the book that users will find both thought-provoking and helpful.

If anything about this book is especially daunting, of course, it is its sheer size. It truly requires that the reader, as the military recruiting slogan goes, “Be Army Strong” simply to carry it about. For that reason and because of its eclectic nature, most persons are unlikely to read it from cover to cover. For all readers, however, it is a compendium of movement methods and strategies, designed to be sampled and used as a playbook and a game-changer for a major movement.

Whether you are a movement leader, a negotiation scholar, a defender of an organization, or an instructor in negotiation, this is a book you need to explore and understand in this dynamic world.

Highly Recommended.

John D. Baker, Ph.D.

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The Negotiator Magazine (October, 2012) Copyright © 2012 The Negotiator Magazine