The Catonsville Nine: A Story of Faith and Resistance in the Vietnam Era

Shawn Francis Peters. Oxford Univ, $34.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-19-982785-5
On May 17, 1968, in one of the more symbolic protests against the Vietnam War, nine Catholic men and women entered the Catonsville, Md., draft board office, removed several hundred Selective Service records, and burned them with homemade napalm. Combining a novel’s readability with in-depth historical research, Peters (When Prayer Fails) recounts the genesis of the Catonsville Nine and the protest. Activist brothers and Catholic priests Phil and Daniel Berrigan are the best known of the group but were by no means the leaders. The others were artist and army veteran Tom Lewis; social justice activist George Mische; husband-and-wife missionaries Tom and Marjorie Melville (who wanted to use the protest to underscore the plight of Guatemala’s poor); nurse Mary Moylan; Christian Brother David Darst; and John Hogan, another missionary who’d served in Guatemala. While a guilty verdict was never in question, the group, defended by famed radical lawyer William Kunstler, argued that while they did break the law, their intentions should be considered. In today’s sociopolitical climate, with religion playing a larger public role, it’s both refreshing and sobering to remember Father Dan Berrigan’s words: “killing is disorder, life and gentleness and community and unselfishness is the only order we recognize.” (July)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
Ebook - 411 pages - 978-0-19-982786-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-5226-6637-0
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