Five Books About Peace

"We speak of peace and we make war," Nobel Laureate Oscar Arias Sanchez once said. As made clear by history and by our current conflicts, waging peace calls for continuous renewal, individually and collectively. Here are five books written in support of peace from radically different points of view. They range from gentle to tough, but the thrust of each is to inspire fresh thinking, hope and action. Please add to this list other titles in the peace canon that have moved and inspired you. In 2009, dona nobis pacem:

  1. Reza: War + Peace: A Photographer's Journey. This moving new National Geographic book by award-winning photographer Reza is a culmination of 30 years of bearing witness and shedding light on "war and tragedy, injustice and heartbreak" in Iran, Europe, Asia and Africa. One day, he hopes, "humanity will remember these conflicts as a form of behavior practiced by its primitive ancestors. Then, peace will have triumphed." The images are unforgettable.

  2. Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, David L. Weaver-Zercher. The world was stunned when Charles Carl Roberts IV entered an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., on October 2, 2006, and killed five schoolgirls and wounded five others before taking his own life. The world was shocked again when the Amish response was forgiveness: Family members of the victims reached out to comfort the shooter's wife and family. The authors illuminate the roots of this controversial response to violence.

  3. Peace: 50 Years of Protest, by Barry Miles. This biography of the peace symbol on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its creation begins with the mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki from atomic bombs dropped by the U.S. in 1945 that caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. Designed by British conscientious objector Gerald Holtom as the logo for a 1958 protest march from London to a secret nuclear weapons factory, the symbol was quickly adopted internationally as an anti-bomb and anti-war symbol through the Cold War, the Vietnam War to the war in Iraq. Its iconic power endures as a fashion as well as political statement.

  4. Choose Hope: Your Role in Waging Peace in the Nuclear Age, by David Krieger and Daisaku Ikeda. This dialogue between Krieger, a founder of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and Ikeda, a prolific Buddhist writer and peace activist, posits that hope for peace is a conscious choice and that ordinary people can and must guide their leaders to create it. Ikeda hopes this dialogue - covering the roles of philosophy, science, literature, and non-governmental organizations in promoting a safe and peaceful world - will "inspire young people to undertake further dialogue for the sake of peace."

  5. PeaceJam: A Billion Simple Acts of Peace, by Ivan Suvanjieff and Dawn Gifford Engle. The lives and work of 11 Nobel Laureates (The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Jody Williams, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Betty Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Jose Ramos-Horta) are spotlighted along with meaningful initiatives by young people who were inspired to take action in their communities to further their causes. The positive energy is contagious.

--Mary Ishimoto Morris

By Ron Charles |  January 1, 2009; 7:00 AM ET Mary Morris
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