Conscience

Conscience

Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family-- A Test of Will and Faith in World War I

Book - 2012
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Conscience reveals how the war challenged the Thomas brothers' convictions and threatened to tear their family apart. The narrative centers on the life of the eldest brother, Norman Thomas, who began the war as a Presbyterian minister and ended it as a pacifist, a defender of civil liberties, and a Socialist (he would later run for president six times). His brothers chose different paths: Evan was a conscientious objector, imprisoned for his stand. Ralph and Arthur Thomas both became soldiers. Beautifully written, Conscience tells the story of a tumultuous time through the experience of one family-and in doing so recovers a way of talking about being true to oneself and to one another.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2012, c2011
ISBN: 9780143120995
Branch Call Number: 940.3162 THO NVD
Characteristics: xiv, 320 p. : ill., ports. ; 22 cm

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Liber_vermis
Aug 19, 2011

This family memoir was a disappointment. The author, Norman Thomas’ great grand-daughter, is clearly unsympathetic to both freedom of conscience, pacifism, and democratic socialism. The book would have benefited from an introduction on the concepts and philosophical foundations of freedom of conscience and conscientious objection (to military service) . At the end of the book the author throws up her hands: “Conscience can be a problematic notion. It’s hard to say just what it is, and it’s easy to see where it can become dangerous.”

The memoir focuses on Norman Thomas as he wrote so much about his own life and beliefs. The other three brothers are portrayed with less depth and detail.

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Liber_vermis
Aug 19, 2011

Liber_vermis thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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Liber_vermis
Aug 19, 2011

As the last Canadian troops withdraw from Afghanistan and Canadian fighter jets continue to bomb Libya, the statement by the father of one of Norman Thomas’ CO friends raises the main unresolved statement: “Pacifism in this great crisis [World War 1] is disloyalty to the county.”

Unfortunately, readers of "Conscience" are unlikely to be helped to resolve this question.

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