February 12, 2012

The conscience of a budding American socialist

Conscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family--a Test of Will and Faith in World War IConscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family--a Test of Will and Faith in World War I by Louisa Thomas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


An interesting story about the upbringing of perennial Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas and his three brothers, written by Norman's great-granddaughter. The four all went to Princeton when Woodrow Wilson was president, but split over Wilson's push for WWI. Norman saw that Wilson's own actions would lead toward crushing of dissent and likely not make the world that safe for democracy. Evan, a true idealist, became a conscientious objector, even going on a hunger strike. Arthur immediately signed up and became an officer, getting wounded. And Ryan, who muddled the most at Princeton, muddled in his angle on the war before enlisting.

It was good but not quite great, in that the book didn't seem to have enough "frisson."



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