Conscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family--a

Conscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family--a Test of Will and Faith in World War I It is not surprising that the World War I experiences of Norman Thomas form a major part of Louisa Thomas new book This long lived peace advocate was, after all, the author s great grandfather and a six time Socialist presidential candidate Conscience does pay due attention to her forebear, but it also traces the parallel stories of his three brothers Two of them answered President Woodrow Wilson s call to war by becoming soldiers Norman and his brother Evan both became conscientious objectors This thoughtful group biography reveals how four members of one remarkable family coped with the moral complexities of responsibilities and beliefs An extraordinary microhistory of a conscientious period in American history


About the Author: Louisa Thomas

Louisa Thomas is the author of Conscience Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family a Test of Will and Faith in World War I She is a former writer for Grantland and a former fellow at the New America Foundation Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and other places.



10 thoughts on “Conscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family--a Test of Will and Faith in World War I

  1. says:

    Louisa Thomas writes of her Great Grandfather and periennal Socialist Party candidate for President Norman Thomas, and his three brothers responses to the first World War Norman and his brother Evan objected while Ralph and Arthur both served Norman Thomas wasn t an unfamiliar name to me, but I didn t realize he was an ordained Presbyterian Minister and establishment enough to have been a student and friend of sorts of Woodrow Wilson Pacifists


  2. says:

    This book is about conscientious objection and the anti war movement in America and, tangentially, in the U.K during World War I It s also about the socialist movement in America during that era If you are interested in these topics, as I am, you might find the book worth reading The presentation of President Wilson s leveraging of jingoism, racism, and xenophobia, and his suppression of speech in order to silence opposition to the war, is eye opening


  3. says:

    Louisa Thomas tells the story of the Thomas family focusing primarily on the oldest of four brothers, Norman, her great grandfather I enjoyed the book for several reasons First it was interesting to learn about the four brothers and the choices they made The two younger ones joined the military in World War I, one spent much of the war in prison for his refusal to join the military, and the other, while not liable for the draft, worked hard for the rights of


  4. says:

    I was intrigued by the idea of four brothers, all raised within the same home, who chose such different paths when their country went to war I wanted to know by what process of decision making did they arrive at their own decision to either fight or object Both positions required courage in WWI America And though the book provided copious detail regarding their actions, and some quotes from letters the brothers had written to family members, I still did not come away


  5. says:

    I came across this title while reading another book on pacifists in England during WW I Having been a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War myself I was interested in reading Thomas book as well I think the title is a bit of a misnomer It refers to two pacifists and two soldiers But the two Thomas brothers who were soldiers in the War are not given anywhere near equal treatment The youngest Arthur is barely mentioned at all, in fact.That issue aside the author Louisa Tho


  6. says:

    Interesting in a lot of ways, but very dry I would ve loved to have seenlife on the page and less quoting from letters Perhaps it should ve focused solely on Norman s biography and saved just a chapter for his brothers and WW1 instead of the other way around.


  7. says:

    Good book ironic how closely it compares to the national landscape today Very interesting on how alot of the national movements happened during this period of unrest during WWI and beyond Fascinating history on the origins of the draft in America.


  8. says:

    great account of a couple of heroes i didn t know that much about.


  9. says:

    How does a pious young Presbyterian minister become a six time candidate for the Socialist party Such is the story of Conscience, the story of Norman Thomas and his younger brother Evan, who would go to seminary as conventional Presbyterians and emerge radicals whose faith found truer expression in political idealism than Christian worship The promised tension between brothers is wholly overstated, as Conscience concerns Norman and Evan s struggle to find a way to live as authentic Christians How does a pi


  10. says:

    A rare nonfiction read for me outside of work The premise intrigued me a family in which two brothers are pacifists and two join up to fight in WWI On that score, I found it a bit of a disappointment There s not really much family drama here, though it is heartening to see that the sharply divided family even the two pacifists were sharply divided on many issues managed to maintain their affection and respect for each other Primarily, though, the book is about the most famous of the bro A rare nonfiction read for


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