An Interview With Rory Fanning Of Haymarket Books

rory fanning

Rory Fanning, following two deployments to Afghanistan with the 2nd Army Ranger Battalion, became one of the first U.S. Army Rangers to resist the Iraq war and the Global War on Terror. In 2008–2009 he walked across the United States for the Pat Tillman Foundation. Rory is the author of Worth Fighting For: An Army Ranger’s Journey Out of the Military and Across America and co-author of Long Shot: The Triumphs and Struggles of an NBA Freedom Fighter. He has bylines at  The Guardian, The Nation, and TomDispatch. He was awarded a grant from the Chicago Teachers Union to speak to CPS students about America’s endless wars and to fill in some of the blanks military recruiters often ignore about America’s endless wars. As a sponsored lifetime member of Veterans for Peace, Rory has traveled multiple times to Japan on speaking tours to express solidarity with those seeking to abolish nuclear weapons and close U.S. military bases around the world. Rory currently lives in Chicago and works for Haymarket Books.

Rory, how long have you worked at Haymarket Books and why did you join/why do you stay?

Nine years in October. I joined Haymarket because I get to spend my workweek fighting for a better world. I stay at Haymarket because of my colleagues and our authors. Everyone I interact through my job has a deep passion for justice and creating a world free of exploitation and oppression. It’s an incredibly rewarding job.

 What about your own background led you to progressivism?

I was one of the first US Army Rangers to become a war-resister after 9/11.  I saw first hand how the US does not fight for freedom and democracy around the world (something I naively thought was the case when I signed up), but rather fights for the benefit of the 1% at the expense of nearly everyone else around the world. Especially Black and Brown people. My military experience made me want to spend my time trying to right the wrongs of the US military and atone for my own time in the US military. I also worked in a bank before the financial crisis. I saw how the banking system preyed on poor and working class people. So I have done a lot of activism around housing rights particularly in the wake of the foreclosure and eviction crisis.

  What role does Haymarket as an institution play in progressive politics?

Haymarket publishes books that help poor and working class people reclaim their voice in the world. Our books combat capitalism and the institutions and political parties that protect it. We encourage people to think beyond the confines and horrors of the current two-party system.  I think our books show a way out of the Democratic party’s trap of lesser-evilism, encourage people to expect more than the status quo, and fight for a world that puts human dignity and liberation first. We encourage our audience to read our books and then go out and organize and struggle for a more just world.

What do you believe progressives out to do in these pandemic times?

First, take care of themselves and their families. Then stand in solidarity with the most marginalized members of society. I’m thinking prisoners, indigenous people, Black and Brown people who are structurally most vulnerable to the disease. There have been some brilliant car demonstrations outside Cook County jail here in Chicago. I’m incredibly inspired by front-line healthcare workers who are demanding better and safe working conditions, the Freeze the Rent protests as well as the supply chain demonstrations at places like Amazon.   This pandemic feels like a bit of a crossroads. Of course things can get worse as the ruling class tries to exploit this crisis, like it does every crisis. But I also think this moment is inspiring people to fight and organize for the changes that the planet so desperately needs right now. This pandemic has made it explicit to just about everyone who truly cares about justice why it’s important to fight racism, enact universal healthcare, make housing a human right, end trillion dollar military budgets, abolish prisons, enact a Green New Deal, and give workers democratic control of their workplace.

What are your requests for potential readers/members of the Haymarket community? How best to join the conversation?

Read our books and share them. Host discussion groups. Bring our books to protests. As far as joining the conversation goes, we are having fantastic livestream events. You can go to our Youtube channel to see people like Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Naomi Klein, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Astra Taylor, Jesse Hagopian, and many other discussing ways to organize right now. If people want to help ensure Haymarket continues to publish our books and produce this critical content they can join our Book Club or donate on our website

 What are some of the recent titles you are most excited about?

Books that immediately come to mind are:

A People’s Guide to Capitalism

An Introduction to Marxist Economics

by Hadas Their


Choice Words

Writers on Abortion

Edited by Annie Finch


Soon-to be released:


Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay

The Case for Economic Disobedience and Debt Abolition

by Debt Collective

Foreword by Astra Taylor


Dying for an iPhone

Apple, Foxconn, and The Lives of China’s Workers

by Jenny Chan, Ngai Pun, and Mark Selden



Freedom. Fascism. Fiction.

by Arundhati Roy


The Tragedy of American Science

From Truman to Trump

by Clifford D. Conner

All these books are incredibly urgent right now and will make major contributions to how we see ourselves through the crisis that is capitalism.

Apologies for this but we have to ask- do you prefer people buy your materials directly from your website or from sources like

We encourage people to support their local independent bookstore and purchase directly from our website Amazon represents everything we stand against.

Rory, any parting thoughts in this pivotal year 2020 for our readers?

Try to take care of yourself, read, organize.

Romi Mahajan in an Author, Marketer, Investor, and Activist




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Romi Mahajan

Romi Mahajan is an Author, Marketer, Investor, and Activist

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