This year, fortunately, the preeminent oral historian of the Catholic Worker movement, Rosalie Riegle (above, center), has released two new collections of testimonies of people who have engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience, Doing Time for Peace: Resistance, Family, and Community (Vanderbilt University Press, 2013) and Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace (Wipf and Stock, 2013). From 2004 through 2007, Dr. Riegle interviewed 173 war resisters from the Second World War up to the Iraq War who have risked arrest and sometimes long prison terms to speak in the loudest way possible against US militarism because, in her words, she "wanted to learn more about peaceworkers who are called to civil disobedience." The books explore the motivation of these activists, the experience of jail, the impact on their family life, and some of the communities of resistance that have sprung up around the country, such as Jonah House, the Baltimore community founded by the late Phil Berrigan and his wife Liz McAlister.
Both books are heavily illustrated. Says Riegle, "I think the pictures show these people are like all of us. They are unusual only in their courage and their commitments. They are not unusual in other ways."
Dr. Riegle, who has retired from teaching English and Women's Studies at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, is an activist in her own right. She has participated in countless peace protests, including getting arrested like the protagonists in these books, and she founded two Catholic Worker communities in Saginaw. She is also the author of Dorothy Day: Portraits by Those Who Knew Her (Orbis, 2006) and Voices From Catholic Worker (temple University Press, 1993).
For folks in the Baltimore-Washington area, Rosalie will be presenting her books this weekend:
Saturday, February 9 -- 4-6 p.m.
Potter's House Books
1658 Columbia Road NW
Sunday February 10 -- 10 a.m.-12N (in connection with liturgy)
1301 Moreland Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21216
More information about these books:
- New book on civil disobedience reads like a peace movement retreat, by John Dear, SJ, National Catholic Reporter, 1/29/2013
- Doing time? Read Riegle’s book, by Frieda Berrigan, Waging Nonviolence, 1/25/2013
- Author to talk about her books on war resisters, by Paul J. Nyden, Charleston Gazette, 1/27/2013