Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.75 shipping
Men of Peace: World War II Conscientious Objectors Paperback – December 20, 2009
|New from||Used from|
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
For the last couple of weeks I've been absorbed by this book--and I hope many others will have the same experience. Houser and the thirty others who tell their stories in this book are responding to a carefully structured set of questions that they were all asked; their answers were recorded and transcribed, and each man was able to review and amend his interview. The interview questions are available in an appendix, but the editor made the wise choice of presenting only the responses in the main part of the book. Their uninterrupted reflections--low-key, conversational, and often endearingly modest--provide a wonderful glimpse into their personalities.
I've known a few of these men myself, so I particularly enjoyed meeting them again in the pages of this book. I could almost hear Wilmington College emeritus professor T. Canby Jones saying this--"Committed to Jesus not only as Lord, but also as Prince of Peace and peacemaking as his warriors, we eschew anything to do with war and the things that make for war. He commands us to love our enemies to return good for evil and to pray for those who despitefully use us. I see his command to love our enemies as binding on all Christians. No exceptions! Do you?"
Or Stephen Angell, on his first experiences with Alternatives to Violence: "...But I took the workshop and I found out some things about myself I didn't know before. Sometimes I could be violent without it looking like violence, like attitudes and responses to children's misbehavior. Even when I took that first workshop, I recognized that this was something I should be doing!"
What encouraged and confirmed these men in making choices that were unusual in their time? Almost all came to pacifism through Christian influence--sometimes specifically Quaker but often not. I was surprised and intrigued by how many were influenced by Methodist youth movements between the world wars. Most had supportive parents--even when the parents didn't actually agree with their sons' decision to go the conscientious objector route.
During World War II, most of these men served in the Civilian Public Service program, set up by the peace churches (mainly Quaker, Mennonite, Church of the Brethren) and the draft authorities. A few went to prison. After the war, some of the men spent a lifetime laboring for peace and justice in such organizations as the American Friends Service Committee, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the American Committee on Africa. Others went into teaching or business or other professions (even inventors--Chris Ahrens, Roger Way), but continued to hold a nonviolent witness. Along the way, many were caught up in the civil rights movement.
These men are perhaps heroes in their own right (they might deny it!), but they also provide us a living link to some major figures of peace and justice in the first half of the twentieth century. James Farmer, Bayard Rustin, Reinhold Niebuhr, Kirby Page, Martin Luther King, Jr., Frank Laubach, John Dewey--we get a chance to meet them all for a few moments through these marvelous interviews.
When I was still a teenager, just starting to become committed to Christian nonviolence, I looked around at the adults in my life, for whom respectability and obedience to authority seemed to be the controlling values. I felt chronologically isolated, as if the dilemmas my friends and I were facing in the context of the civil rights movement and the war in Viet Nam were new to our generation. Could anyone above 30 even understand us? Later, when I became a Christian and began reading about the church, I began to realize that we had a great cloud of witnesses--generations of prophets and disciples who had faced these same dilemmas before us. Reading this book, once again I had that same feeling of companionship and encouragement.
(This review is adapted from my blog "Can You Believe?" and is based on a PDF-format advance copy supplied by the publisher.)
While each of the stories shares the common thread of CO status, each is unique in the way this decision led to other life choices and the reflections these men offer here on its consequences and lessons. The appendix gives the 12 questions guiding the interviews, providing a consistent structure to the narratives, and I appreciated the variety of backgrounds and experiences this collection provides. For example, T. Canby Jones earned a PhD at Yale Divinity School, became a college professor of Bible and Philosophy and was engaged in "The Lamb's War", using scripture to describe nonviolence as an alternative to war. He taught himself and his students to "put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace." (Ephesians 6:11-17) Calhoun D. Geiger was home schooled, never earned a high school diploma, and spent much of his life in farming and forestry, and in working to end segregation. He summed up his life's lessons as " having been led by the Spirit through almost all these ups and downs."
It is an privilege to have this window into the life of each of these remarkable men and Mary Hopkins has contributed a valuable resource to our collective memory. Men of Peace offers ample evidence to support Kierkegaard's statement that "We create ourselves by our choices."