We Have Just Begun to Not Fight

Overview

World War II stands, for most Americans, as the "good" war; it was a necessary war fought for a just cause. Yet more than 40,000 American men refused to fight the war. Citing principled opposition, they declared themselves conscientious objectors. Rejecting combat duty, the men served as noncombatants in the military, performed alternative civilian service, and in some cases took an absolutist position and went to prison. "We Have Just Begun To Not Fight" is devoted to the nearly 12,000 men who entered Civilian ...
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Overview

World War II stands, for most Americans, as the "good" war; it was a necessary war fought for a just cause. Yet more than 40,000 American men refused to fight the war. Citing principled opposition, they declared themselves conscientious objectors. Rejecting combat duty, the men served as noncombatants in the military, performed alternative civilian service, and in some cases took an absolutist position and went to prison. "We Have Just Begun To Not Fight" is devoted to the nearly 12,000 men who entered Civilian Public Service (CPS) with the intent to perform "work of national importance" as an alternative to combat duty. CPS men worked as aides in mental hospitals, volunteered as smoke jumpers in forest fires, and participated in grueling medical and scientific experiments. They were a remarkably diverse group - blue-collar workers, college professors, Amish farmers, and Pulitzer Prize winners - motivated by a wide range of philosophical and political beliefs. Religious fundamentalists, anarchists, absolutists, socialists, and Father Coughlinites came together in the 151 CPS camps scattered throughout the country. The communities they created in the camps, as well as their encounters with the local, often hostile communities surrounding them, are a largely unexamined aspect of wartime America. Authors Heather T. Frazer and John O'Sullivan record the oral histories of 15 CPS men and 2 CPS wives whose recollections and reflections impart a rich understanding of this exercise of conscience in wartime.
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Editorial Reviews

Ray Olson
Americans often call World War II "the good war," but even it had its share of conscientious objectors. Some 12,000 men spent all or part of the war in Civilian Public Service, a program set up by members of the historic peace churches (Mennonites, Brethren, and Quakers) and participated in by pacifists from other churches, of no specific religious persuasion, and, in the case of a few, no persuasion except not to fight in that particular war. Frazer and O'Sullivan present spellbinding, personable interviews with 17 CPS veterans (two in tandem with their wives) and the World War I CO who chaired the board that administered the service. CPS men did a lot of hard, dirty, risky work, from digging ditches and fighting forest fires to working in mental hospitals and acting as guinea pigs for medical research on starvation and infectious diseases. The interviewees stand as profiles in courage, principal, and ideals, perhaps especially so the two who left the CPS and went to prison in order to express their pacifism most meaningfully. Awe inspiring.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805791341
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Series: Twayne's Oral History Series , #18
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.51 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 The Organization and Functioning of CPS 1
2 Historic Peace Church Members Encounter CPS 41
3 CPS Men from Outside the Historic Peace Tradition 79
4 From CPS to Prison 111
5 The Search for Work of National Importance 145
6 Reflections on the CPS Experience 197
7 Conclusion 245
Notes and References 249
Bibliography 253
Index 257
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