Winter Reading Suggestions
compiled by Marilyn Smith

In the stacks at your public library, you will discover titles that explore peace through memoir, biography, politics, history, ecology, and spirituality. You'll find books and DVDs to read or view alone, to share with your children, or to discuss with your friends. Visit your library to be informed, to be entertained, to be inspired--check it out!

Below is a sampling of recent releases available from the Onondaga County Public Library. You can request these titles and others from your local library by phone, in person, or on the web (

The Anti-War Quote Book
Editor: Eric Groves, Sr. Quirk Books, 2008. 176 pp.
This book contains the collected wisdom of men and women from diverse cultures and eras, who have spoken out against war. It is divided into the following categories: War, History, Empires, Power, Money, Leadership, Propaganda, Enemies, Violence, Nukes, Soldiers, Revenge, Hatred, Children, Women, Brotherhood, Peace, Love, and Activism. The format is bold, with colorful pages and a variety of fonts, interspersed with graphics of peace rallies and protest posters.

Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians
Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian.
Nation Books, 2008. 160 pp.
Pulitzer-Prize winner Hedges and journalist Al-Arian present the results of a special investigation into the impact of the war on Iraqi civilians. Over seven months in 2006 and 2007, they interviewed 50 combat veterans. In the introduction, the authors eloquently describe the dissonance between the public perception of the war and the reality: "The politicians still speak in the abstract terms of glory, honor, and heroism, in the necessity of improving the world, in lofty phrases of political and spiritual renewal….These veterans give us a true narrative of the war-one that exposes the vast enterprise of industrial slaughter unleashed in Iraq. They expose the lie." For more information, visit

My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me
Mahvish Rukhsana Khan. Public Affairs, 2008. 320 pp.
The author, a US lawyer born to immigrant Afghan parents, served as an interpreter for Afghan detainees in Guantanamo. The narrative includes the stories Khan heard from the prisoners, as well as her personal experiences inside the prison. An excerpt from the last chapter reads: "The scores of prisoners I met are largely invisible to the world outside the camp. They're nameless, faceless entities, cataloged and referred to by serial number as a way of dehumanizing them….It's easy to mistreat something called No. 1154….It's harder to dole out such abuse when No. 1154 retains its identity.…" Khan introduces us to many of these men, and she gives voice to the stories that the prisoners themselves have never been able to tell. For more information, go to

We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now.
Editors: Murray Polner and Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Basic Books, 2008. 368 pp.
This collection of writings and speeches by those who have opposed our government's addiction to war reveals the breadth and diversity of the US antiwar tradition. The selections are organized chronologically, proceeding from the War of 1812 to Iraq and the war on terror. Among the contributors are those you might expect, a few that will surprise you, and some that you may have never heard of; they include John Quincy Adams, Julia Ward Howe, Stephen Crane, William Jennings Bryan, Randolph Bourne, Helen Keller, George McGovern, Philip and Daniel Berrigan, Country Joe & the Fish, Andrew Bacevich, Pat Buchanan, Howard Zinn, and many more. A list of antiwar films and an extensive bibliography are also included.

The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology
Thich Nhat Hanh. Parallax Press, 2008. 110 pp.
Buddhist monk, poet, scholar, and human rights advocate, Thich Nhat Hahn writes thoughtfully about the spirituality of environmentalism. He talks about the interconnectedness and impermanence of all things, and the importance of walking mindfully on the Earth. In a chapter on nature and nonviolence he writes, "To bring about peace within the human family, we must work for harmonious coexistence….To practice mindfulness and look deeply into the nature of things is to discover their true nature, the nature of interbeing….With this understanding, we can easily sustain the work of loving and caring for the Earth and each other for a long time." The final section contains practices for mindful living, including an Earth peace treaty commitment sheet. Visit to learn more.

Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa.
Jeanette Winter. Harcourt, 2008. 32 pp.
This beautifully illustrated picture book biography tells the story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. Founder of the Green Belt Movement, Maathai started by planting nine seedlings in her back yard in Kenya in 1977 in reaction to the deforestation in her country; today, more than 30 million trees have been planted across Africa. The mission of the Green Belt Movement is to empower communities worldwide to protect the environment and to promote good governance and cultures of peace." To read more, visit
- Marilyn Smith is a Librarian at the Onondaga County Public Library - Petit Branch.

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.
Jane Mayer. Doubleday, 2008. Hardcover, 392 pp.
A former Wall Street Journal front page editor, investigative journalist Jane Mayer is now the Washington-based staff writer for The New Yorker. Her timely, readable and carefully documented book exposes Cheney/Bush's so-called "War on Terror" with its assault on human dignity and on the Constitution. Not to mention its defiance of the Geneva Conventions and other International Law.

With clarity and nitty-gritty, unflinching detail Mayer takes us behind the scenes to delineate the strategies, chronicle the decisions, and reveal the stonewalling and obfuscations behind torture, extraordinary rendition, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Mayer sketches the players and shows how these neo-cons manipulated and amplified the fear that 9/11 generated to grab national and global hegemony - an agenda restlessly awaiting a 9/11 to provide the pretext.

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
Naomi Klein. Picador, 2007. Paperback, 701 pp.
Klein's hefty, yet compelling, "Shock Doctrine" tells how the "boys" from Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman's Chicago School of Economics have worked with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the CIA, and the US military to erode the sovereignty of numerous nations over the past several decades.

Klein examines the direct links between the logic of torture and the logic of speedily undermining and ransacking nations (the US, Chile, Poland, Russia, South Africa, the Asian tigers, and especially Iraq). The Chicago school goal is to convert the planet to a pure and seamless free market in order to open every country up to being bilked by the multinationals of our corporatist state.

Although "Shock Doctrine" was written before the latest, most intense stage of the current economic crisis, it helps explain how we got there.
-Ed Kinane

Warrior Writers: Re-Making Sense.
Edited by Lovella Calica. Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). Paperwork, 208 pp.
Lovella Calica describes Warrior Writers as a project that allows veterans to "unbury their secrets and connect with each other on a personal and artistic level" through writing workshops. They see their writings as a means to enlighten people in the US by writing the real "boots on the ground" stories from men and women who have survived to tell them.

In January 2007, Warrior Writer workshops began and soon after short, powerful pieces of prose and poetry were published in a 30-page chapbook entitled Warrior Writers: Move, Shoot and Communicate. More recently, a much larger and more ambitious volume from IVAW has been released containing writing, photographs and artwork. It features works of 41 vets from across the US, plus one from Australia. Warrior Writers: Re-Making Sense is available locally at PosterWorks, 505 Hawley Ave. (at the ArtRage Gallery) and Syracuse Cultural Workers, 400 Lodi Street.
-Rose Viviano