NO MORE HEROES: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality

Audiobook CoverStrategies for fighting white supremacy in the age of Trump. Available for purchase from AK Press, Indie Bound, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and your local bookstore.

Also available on audiobook! Read by Hannah Pepper, T Duncan, Donald Lewis Jr, Ian Hoch, William Bowling, and Jordan Flaherty. Purchase the audiobook here.

Read an excerpt from the book here.

From systemic racism to climate change, there are no easy fixes to the deep- rooted crises of our time. In this marvelous, enormously instructive book, Jordan Flaherty explores how we too often allow the struggle for change to be undermined by would-be saviors—and how today’s grassroots social movements, led by communities on the frontlines of crisis, are charting a far more powerful path forward. – Naomi Klein, Author, This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine

Buy this book if you believe a better world is possible and want to know how to get there. From Jordan Flaherty, the journalist that broke the story of The Jena Six, comes this thrilling people’s history of current movements for revolutionary change. A powerful, engaging, exciting book for anyone concerned about the state of the world. -Cynthia McKinney, 2008 Green Party Presidential Candidate; former Georgia Congresswoman

No More Heroes exposes the savior complex for what it really is: imperialism camouflaged as a rescue operation. A perfect gift for the age of Trump. -Robin D. G. Kelley, Author, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

One of the best books of the year. – Flavorwire

Book CoverJordan Flaherty’s insightful new book, No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality, is both an excavation of the deep roots of the white savior industrial complex and an informative look at how the savior mentality gets expressed today in everything from voluntourism to Teach for America and anti–sex trafficking movements. With whip-smart analysis, Flaherty helps us identify the real damages inflicted by saviorism while providing helpful guidelines so those of us who hold privilege can become stronger allies in the movements for social justice.  – Bitch Magazine

The crux of this wide-ranging book is finding alternatives to activism’s savior mentality, that hero model in which a person of privilege uses their genius or other exceptional qualities to “rescue” the less fortunate. I came to Flaherty’s book with wariness, braced for scolding — but instead found No More Heroes to be full of love and compassion, including towards those who fall into the traps of saviordom.Gambit Weekly

As the holidays roll around, many are wondering how to handle post-election dinner conversations. Flaherty’s latest book may be exactly what they need to read to embolden their resolve to have the difficult conversations necessary at this time in history. – In Weekly

Flaherty’s challenges are radical and revolutionary, advocating transformation, not reform. –  The New Orleans Tribune

As Flaherty adeptly demonstrates, the liberal hero fantasy isn’t just a harmless affectation. The New Inquiry 

Flaherty succeeds in demonstrating the violence of imposing outside values and goals on a self-organized community, and the need to listen to the voices of those affected and ask them what they want, not force change upon them from above…An excellent, pointed introduction to a discussion that urgently needs to be had. – PopMatters

How can we build a better world? And why do so many people with privilege end up making things worse when they try to help? From the Crusades to Black Lives Matter, No More Heroes is a grassroots history of resistance to the savior mentality. This book weaves the stories of teachers, international volunteers, sex workers, FBI informants, indigenous organizers, and prison abolitionists into a narrative of revolutionary change that travels from Alaska to Palestine, from Karl Marx to Muhammad Ali, and from KONY 2012 to the Red Cross.

No More Heroes brings us real life stories of life-or-death conflict: Riad Hamad, a Lebanese middle school teacher in Texas betrayed by FBI informant Brandon Darby. Monica Jones, a Black transgender sex work activist arrested for “walking while trans” in Phoenix, Arizona. Haidar Eid, a professor resisting colonialism and liberalism in his daily life and work in Gaza City. Sophie Lucido Johnson, a recent college graduate who finds her youthful idealism channeled by others to displace unionized African American teachers in New Orleans.

No More Heroes explores the growing response to these dynamics: grassroots and street-based uprisings like the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter, creating accountable movements focused on real, systemic change.

See below for more reviews. For more information or to order online, visit the AK Press website, Amazon, or your favorite retailer. You can also order an e-book here


Floodlines, Jordan’s book about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, lifted the veil off the way white supremacy behaves not only in official government responses, but when there is no functional government providing direction. No More Heroes takes those insights and develops them into full lessons on being an ally and the very meaning of democratic rights. This movement cannot advance if it is dependent upon Tarzan to swoop in and save the natives. If you are earnest in the desire to be a good white ally, if you are a Black male looking to support his sisters in struggle or a cisgendered male trying to find his way in the fight for LGBTQ liberation, you must read this book. You owe it to the people you wish to serve. -Max Rameau, Center for Pan-African Development; Author, Take Back The Land

A thoughtful, searing manifesto against the hydra-headed White Savior Industrial Complex that threatens to blunt the radical politics of struggles for justice in the US and around the world. Blending personal reflections on major social upheavals of the past decade with cultural critique and interviews with an impressive range of activists, longtime movement journalist Jordan Flaherty grounds his analysis of the money, power, and seductive ideology driving the present-day savior impulse in the brutal histories of colonial domination and racism. A wake-up call to decolonize US-based activism and international solidarity work, everyone interested in social change should read this book. -Anjali Kamat, former correspondent with Democracy Now! and Al Jazeera 

Tying together history, community organizing, scholarly research, mainstream media, and pop culture, No More Heroes deftly explores not only the concept of the white savior, “the leftist version of Manifest Destiny,” but contrasts that with concrete examples of radical visionary community-building, which centers the leadership of the oppressed, especially queer women and trans folks of color. This book can serve as a flashing stop sign to social justice movements so they don’t get hit by the freight train of neoliberialism. It demands we answer the question “which side of justice are you on?” not with words but with self-reflective action. Compelling and accessible, this book may be challenging for folks with privilege – especially cisgendered straight white men – to read as it demands they ask searing questions that may indict them and their behavior, but Flaherty shows clearly that is exactly what privileged people have to do, because oppressed people stare these realities in the face every day — and when we blink, we die. – Walidah Imarisha, Co-editor, Octavia’s Brood; Author, Angels with Dirty Faces, Scars/Stars

Jordan Flaherty is no savior, that’s for sure. But that’s exactly the point, and what makes his voice here so indispensable. He has learned through personal experience and from listening to those who are marginalized just how dangerous it can be for would-be superheroes (even those with the best intentions) to take up the cause of justice, absent a real grounding in the solidarity and accountability necessary to bring true liberation. This is a unique and compelling contribution to movement literature, written with a humility that is as powerful as it is genuine. -Tim Wise, Author, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

Jordan Flaherty is one of America’s most committed journalists writing from below and to the left. His work lifts up voices rarely heard in media as he focuses on the tireless, courageous work of marginalized communities building collective power. At a time when many movements are increasingly aligned with the dangerous neoliberal notion of individual saviors, Jordan reminds us there are no masters in the path to love and liberation. – Harsha Walia, author of Undoing Border Imperialism

Heroes don’t make revolution.  Saviors only save the status quo. The people united will never need redeeming. These are the essential lessons of Jordan Flaherty’s absorbing new book. Part memoir, part history, part political critique, No More Heroes exposes the savior complex for what it really is: imperialism camouflaged as a rescue operation. A perfect gift for the age of Trump. -Robin D. G. Kelley, Author, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

What if there was nothing to prove? In 1977 the Combahee River Collective said “black women are inherently valuable,” a radical statement because in capitalism no one is believed to be inherently valuable.  Even in our movements we are trying to prove that we are individually worthy. No More Heroes gives us all another opportunity to do what it will actually take to create liberation in our lifetimes:  trust them most impacted, come together across forms of oppression, and most importantly throw away the scarcity-based, fragile individuality that privilege teaches us to defend. Let it go, and embrace the humbling, collective work of getting free.  -Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Author, Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity

The recent election underlines the importance, if not urgency, of solidarity organizing and reminds us of the need to avoid the pitfalls of searching for a savior. – Victoria Law, Truthout

Jordan Flaherty’s No More Heroes is a both fascinating documentation of recent movement history that I enjoyed the hell of out reading, and an example of solidarity journalism at its best. From cautionary tales about rapey manarchist “saviors” who turn out to be FBI informants, to a breakdown of why most of the people trying to “save” sex workers actually cause violence and damage, this book is essential literature for movements and people trying to figure out how to do right and not play into the ableist charity and savior models that have been killing us for too long. – Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha, author, Dirty River, Bodymap; co-editor, The Revolution Starts At Home

No More Heroes is a vitally useful intervention in the current political moment. Spot-on analysis, gripping examples, and a clear, urgently necessary argument about how we need to re-think harmful “rescue” frames and the leadership models they foster will make this book immensely useful to contemporary movements. No More Heroes helps us understand how our movements’ debates about leadership, respectability politics and co-optation relate to long-standing investment in ideas of saving that have got to be dismantled if we are going to build the new world we so desperately need and long for. -Dean Spade, Author, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law

No More Heroes is an a much-needed critique of unchecked leadership within causes and social movements. At a time when media latches onto figureheads and sound bites, Jordan Flaherty helps us understand how new movements are able to be democratic, decentralized and effective in changing policy and rewriting discourse. -Francesca Fiorentini, Host and Producer, AJ+

In “No More Heroes,” Jordan Flaherty upends the world. You might think you understand the issues of sex workers, disaster victims and the poor, but through personal stories from the front lines of these fights, “No More Heroes,” demonstrates that our best intended assumptions are often wrong. Read this book before your misguided good intentions do more harm to your pet causes than good. -Lolis Eric Elie, Writer, HBO’s Treme

From left-wing vanguards, Teach-For-America, and charitable foundations, to the power of military interventions, Jordan Flaherty shows how rhetorics of commercial culture and corporate media re-appear as “moral” arguments to justify domination. This is an original interrogation of destructive control masquerading as “help.” A personal and eclectic analysis with interesting background and helpful information. -Sarah Schulman, Author, Conflict is not Abuse

See also a mention of the book in The Outline.