These Strange Criminals: An Anthology of Prison Memoirs by Conscientious Objectors from the Great War to the Cold War
Published: December 2004© 2004
524 Pages, 6.01 x 9.01 x 1.30 in
In many modern wars, there have been those who have chosen not to fight. Be it for religious or moral reasons, some men and women have found no justification for breaking their conscientious objection to violence. In many cases, this objection has led to severe punishment at the hands of their own governments, usually lengthy prison terms. Peter Brock brings the voices of imprisoned conscientious objectors to the fore in These Strange Criminals.
This important and thought-provoking anthology consists of thirty prison memoirs by conscientious objectors to military service, drawn from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and centring on their jail experiences either during the first or second world wars or in Cold War America. Voices from history – like those of Stephen Hobhouse, Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, Ian Hamilton, Alfred Hassler, and Donald Wetzel – come alive, detailing the impact of prison life and offering unique perspectives on wartime government policies of conscription and imprisonment. Sometimes intensely moving, and often inspiring, these memoirs show that in some cases, individual conscientious objectors – many well-educated and politically aware – sought to reform the penal system from within either by publicizing its dysfunction or through further resistance to authority. The collection is an essential contribution to our understanding of criminology and the history of pacifism, and represents a valuable addition to prison literature.
'With These Strange Criminals, Peter Brock has put together a fascinating anthology of prison memoirs authored by conscientious objectors to war. Brock is a pre-eminent historian of pacifism as an ideology and as a movement in the modern Western world. The memoirs he has selected here demonstrate his rich and nuanced understanding of the topic.'Frances Early, Department of History, Mount Saint Vincent University
'These memoirs are noteworthy as expressions of the human spirit in times of stress and struggle. Peter Brock is one of the premier scholars in the world of peace history and he has made a significant contribution to the field with this collection. The memoirs reveal the dehumanizing prison conditions in different countries and illuminates the responses of imprisoned conscientious objectors.'James C. Juhnke, Department of History, Bethel College