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All Is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day Paperback – May 15, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jim Forest, who lives in the Netherlands, is secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship. A lifelong peacemaker, he is the author of many books include Praying with Icons, Living with Wisdom: A Life of Thomas Merton, and Ladder of the Beatitudes.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books; Revised, illustrated edition (May 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570759219
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570759215
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This third revision of Jim Forest's biography of one of the most perpetually significant figures of the 20th century, Dorothy Day, neatly encapsulates her witness and legacy. Miss Day, the co-founder (along with Peter Maurin) of the Catholic Worker movement and of The Catholic Worker newspaper, remains one of the giants of 20th Century Catholicism, with enduring relevance for today.

James H. Forest, a former managing editor of The Catholic Worker, was a long-time associate of Day. He writes with a flourish from an insider's perspective. Orbis Books greatly enhanced his biography with a stunning visual archive, along with sidebar copy fitted to the text by Orbis' publisher and editor-in-chief and former Catholic Worker managing editor Robert Ellsberg, also editor of the critical editions of Day's journals and correspondence, both published by Marquette University Press.

Several dozen books and monographs have treated Day's life and impact, but nothing comes close to Forest's exhaustive volume in terms of coverage of key aspects of her life; the trove of photographs (many previously unpublished) that enhance the text; and, the many amusing and alternately moving anecdotes included from such veteran Catholic Workers as Ellsberg (whom the elderly Day sometimes mistakenly referred to as "young Ellsworth"), Deacon Tom and Monica Cornell and Jim Forest himself. Forest dedicates the work to Tom Cornell and Robert Ellsberg, kindred spirits and long-time friends.

An ancient Christian once remarked of the writings of St. Athanasius: "If you cannot get a copy of one of his books, write it on your clothing!
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"Love is the Measure", Jim Forest's first book on Dorothy Day was always my favorite biography of Dorothy. A couple of years ago, I was excited when I heard that Forest was doing a re-write of his original book. I was expecting some revisions and a few additional photos but I never expected a total revision and update warranting a new title, "All is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day".

It seems the perspective of additional years of reflection, the opening of the cause for her canonization, and the release of Dorothy's diaries and letters all impacted a fresh look at her life and Jim Forest so aptly gave us a new view of her remarkable life. It is written with the same personal attention to the details of each important phase of her live as was his first book. Each phase of her life is told like a separate story, written so personally as if he was with her at each step. It is the perfect way to tell the story of her life. Dorothy was fond of telling stories to others, and in my several meetings with her during the summer of 1976, she was more personally interested in my view points, opinions and life experiences than she was in talking about herself.

After the first 3 chapters, focused on her early years with her family, the next 8 chapters take us through the struggles of her young adult years beginning with going away to college. It was almost painful reading through these chapters as she struggled to find herself, which she finally did after the Spirit led fateful encounter with Peter Maurin on December 9th, 1932.

The following 7 chapters focus on the early years of the Worker. The core values are covered in separate chapters. At times it seems that competing priorities needed to be sorted out as the Catholic Worker sought to define itself.
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Format: Paperback
Some years ago I read Robert Coles'Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion. Just a few years ago I read Paul Elie's The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage, which interwove the lives of Dorothy, Walker Percy, Thomas Merton and Flannery O'Connor. I also read The Dorothy Day Book edited by M. Quigley and M. Garvey. I found all those books quite enlightening and nourishing. All Is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day, however, leaves me searching for words of praise. I had read Jim Forest's biography of Thomas Merton (Living with Wisdom: A Life of Thomas Merton), so I knew when staring All Is Grace that I was in for a riveting adventure. By the time I finished this book I felt that I had come to know Dorothy extremely well. Jim Forest and those who helped him in putting this book together have created something that is definitive and masterly. As he mentions near the end of the book, Dorothy Day is still a person who shakes up the lives of those who get to know her. While I am humbled and put to shame by her life and faith, I rejoice in the knowledge that she existed and lived her life so close to the ideals of the gospels.
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Format: Paperback
All is Grace, a biography of Dorothy Day, was a revelation to me. I had heard the name when the news broke about her possible canonization, and it rang a bell, but I couldn't place it. Then I read this book about her. It still didn't answer the bell - I still don't know where I first heard the name, but I was so glad to have had the opportunity to read this book.

Not only is Dorothy Day one of the most important people of the 20th century, she's a model of Christian behaviour. I know she's Catholic, but her beliefs and her actions speak to everyone who calls themselves a Christian and believes in loving your neighbour as yourself, whether that neighbour lives next door, occupies the next desk, accosts you on the street for a dollar or lives in some forgotten country in a continent you'll never visit.

Through Jim Forest's transparent prose, I felt I was able to see a saint who is a real human being, a fallible, fallen person whose love for Christ and whose desire to follow Jesus's teachings led her to point the way to what we know is right. Others have called her "prophetic" because in an era where peace activism was almost unheard of and punished, she stuck with it; because her treatment of the down & out, homeless and poor anticipated the social activism of the latter part of the last century, but I don't think she was. She was simply doing what we are all called to do. The fact that it took almost 60 years for the rest of us to catch up to her speaks not to her gift of prophecy, but to our lack of attention and love.
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