1. Headline
  1. Headline
TODAY books
updated 10/19/2011 1:39:53 PM ET 2011-10-19T17:39:53

It didn't take long before celebrities like Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon were visiting the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, and as the gatherings have spread, so has the word. Literally.

Writers have a special love for the diverse demonstrations. Just take it from their online statement at OccupyWriters.com. Visitors are welcomed by a big, bold message: "We, the undersigned writers and all who would join us, support Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world."

Among the names: Margaret Atwood, Noam Chomsky, Eve Ensler and Salman Rushdie, writers well known for revolutionary spirit. Here, a look back at powerful works by authors with an agenda, and the uprisings they supported and inspired.

‘Animal Farm’
By George Orwell
George Orwell's 1945 allegory about the creation of the Soviet Union showed how greed and arrogance could undermine a revolution. In the book, a pig named Napoleon organizes animals to drive away the human owner of the farm where they live. But soon Napoleon is a despot with his own secret police force (dogs), who rewrites history to glorify himself and destroy any who oppose him. Banned in the Soviet Union, the book nonetheless undermined leader Joseph Stalin.

Story: Graphic novel offers child’s-eye view of communism

By Kurt Vonnegut
(Dial Press)
Kurt Vonnegut's 1969 novel came out 25 years after the allied firebombing of Dresden, which it depicts, but only a year after the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive. Vonnegut quickly became an exalted figure in the anti-war counterculture. By sharing his own experiences as a soldier in World War II, Vonnegut stoked popular horror over the injustices that come with armed combat.

  1. More in books
    1. Harlan Coben returns with ‘Six Years’
    2. ‘I Would Die 4 U’: How Prince became an icon
    3. ‘Until I Say Good-Bye’: Living for love in the face of ALS
    4. Letters from the life of George H.W. Bush
    5. Mom turns sleeping baby into fairy-tale star

‘To Kill A Mockingbird’
By Harper Lee
In her classic novel, published in 1960, Harper Lee introduced Atticus Finch, a white Alabama lawyer who takes the case of a black defendant accused of rape. Though Lee herself had little personal involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, the novel is credited with turning a lens on racist attitudes in the deep South, and fueling the fight against Jim Crow laws.

Story: Islamic superheroes: Role models or propaganda?

‘Uncle Tom's Cabin’
By Harriet Beecher Stowe
(Simon & Brown)
"So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war," Abraham Lincoln allegedly said to Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862, in the midst of the Civil War. Though Stowe's novel reads as stereotyped and small-minded today, when it was first serialized in the abolitionist newspaper National Era starting in 1851, it created a firestorm of anti-slavery protest.

‘The Vagina Monologues’
By Eve Ensler
Eve Ensler's blunt and funny play didn't exactly start an uprising, but it did start a movement. It became the mission statement of V-Day, a day of global activism to end violence against women that is observed on Feb. 14 every year and features benefit readings of the play. To date, according to the organization, V-Day has raised more than $85 million dollars for local community groups who do anti-violence work.

‘The Normal Heart'
By Larry Kramer
(Samuel French, Inc.)
Larry Kramer's dramatization of the founding of the Gay Men's Health Crisis was also an indictment of government officials who turned a blind eye to the spread of AIDS. First performed off-Broadway in 1985, it drew national attention and became the cornerstone of Kramer's activism, even as it was criticized for being more of a political screed than a drama. This year, a successful Broadway production was mounted, proving that “The Normal Heart” has legs as a performance, and that its message is still relevant.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. @HillaryClinton/twitter

    Hillary Clinton: Granddaughter led me 'to speed up' political plans

    4/10/2015 3:58:42 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T15:58:42
  1. Courtesy Bryan Morseman

    Marathon dad's victories help raise money for son with spina bifida

    4/10/2015 5:54:50 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T17:54:50
  1. YouTube

    8 great celebrity impressions of other celebrities

    4/10/2015 6:44:22 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T18:44:22