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Most Americans can recite the names of famous generals and historic battles. Some can also name champions of nonviolence like Martin Luther King Jr., or recall the struggles for peace and justice that run like a thread through U.S. history. But little attention is paid to the intellectual tradition of nonviolence. Ira Chernus surveys the evolution of this powerful idea from the Colonial Era up to today, focusing on representative movements (Anabaptists, Quakers, Anarchists, Progressives) and key individuals (Thoreau, Reinhold Niebuhr, Dorothy Day, A.J. Muste, King, Barbara Deming), including non-Americans like Mohandas Gandhi and Thich Nhat Hanh, who have helped form the idea of nonviolence in the United States. American Nonviolence offers an essential guide for both students and activists.
Ira Chernus is professor of religious studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His many books include Nuclear Madness: Religion and the Psychology of the Nuclear Age.