The Trial of the Catonsville Nine Paperback – 1 Mar 2004
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"A wonderfully moving testament to nine consciences." * -The New York Times * "One who wants to know what an authentically Christian response to the questions of our time is like would be wise to listen to Father Berrigan." * -The New York Review of Books *
About the Author
Daniel Berrigan (1921-2016) was author of fourteen volumes of poetry. His first volume of poetry, Time Without Number (1957) whose publication occurred at the suggestion of poet Marianne Moore, was nominated for the National Book Award and awarded the prestigious Lamant Prize for Poetry by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Robin Andersen is Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program and Professor of Communications and Media Studies at Fordham University. James L. Marsh is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Fordham University.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I discuss Dan's play a lot- which is the book in ? here- also later performances of it-but the following talks about the action itself from a historical point of view...
I have since erased all my crap abt the 9 becuz Sean Peter's book-The Catonsville 9- does it with the detail of some one who was there. But I have kept some of my material abt the play.
How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?- isn't the most important thing to do more actions that can change the state of things? After long pondering- turning over the "origins of the Catonsville 9" over and over like some stone with facets, I belive it was George Mische and Phil Berrigan who played the strongest roles in getting the action at Catonsville together.
Who cares? Well- a historian would rise here and say, "I care". And I have to admit- who sets history in motion, gives it a spark- and why- AND HOW- that's important!!!!!
When he visited me w George Mische in 11/'07, Tom Melville stated that George WAS the key organizer for the C 9. While attending our Baltimore 4 trial, one of the prosecutors jacked up the damage done to the files by the blood so that it would be a felony- (I believe it had to be over 500 dollars). Our lawyer asked- "couldn't the files have been washed off? " And then, "you mean to say you don't have duplicates of these files?" No. "You mean that if I took a match to a file it would be gone forever?"
"One of those cartoon light bulbs went off in my head"- George says. This has the ring of authenticity!
Tom (again, 11/'07) describes a meeting where the C-9 action was discussed and a vote taken and out of some 40 persons, many raised their hands. Tom came in late and asked afterwards: "What were you guys talking about? Holy smokes that's great!" He then agreed to join, He told Margee (Marjorie Melville- his wife) and she got mad! "You've got a helluva nerve! Don't you know what it is to be married? You're supposed to consult with your partner! Margee goes over to DuPont Circle where, she later tells Tom, she cried for several hours.
But she came back to say, "Count me in too!" Tom joined the action providing that they related the action to Guatamala- which the 9 were glad to include as well as Mary Moylan's experiences in Africa. Tom has written eloquently on Guatamala- Through a Glass Darkly (needs to b underlined)
John Hogan's version of the instigation of the C 9 ? Before his death, John told me probably the best version to date- better than George's or ...maybe...just different.
It was that George led him and others up to Baltimore to meet w Phil and Tom at Bill O'Connor's house. The action wasn't specified but it was to be a continuation of our Baltimore 4 blood pouring action. John signed on and there was a meeting in the basement of the house in DC where hands were raised. Whose idea was it? "I always thought it was Phil's, "says John. He also tells me "not to worry about it".
Liz tells me the instigation of it was "the Baltimore 4". Touche. She is trying to be nice.
Over the years I learned more and more of the details of the action- as I attended many reunions, and watched the play and discussed same: Brendann Walsh's role as driver although an impatient Phil took the keys and drove- at least on the way out (Phil rode back in a paddy wagon after the action!); Dean Pappas' role as phone liaison, Willa Walsh and Marilyn O'Connor's role as press relase distributors, why George's pants ripped, how Mary Moylan held the phone button down so that the clerks could not call out, how Dave Darst was look out, the fact that it took a long time for the police to come- they could have all walked away, easily! The 9 were actually tried by the state as well as the feds- although any sentences (if there were any?) were "run" concurrent.
I find it humorous that George Mische is adjusting his pants as the draft board file flames rise in the WBAL TV footage. Marjorie Melville stands behind him, "fixing him up". Typical of the tricks time plays on memories- when I ask how this happened- George says that the draft board clerk, Ms. Murphy, pulled at his pants w such force that they split. Marjorie Melville tells me that George's pants caught on a corner of a table.
Tom Melville takes the most active part in the actual burning, turning the wire basket of files over and scattering them class="single"out so that they burn more thoroughly.
Did the 9 really disrupt Selective Service (any more than we did in the Baltimore 4, except that the 9 had burned files?. If only 4f files were destroyed at Catonsville?- as one, Mr. Narowski's has commented) the only thing accomplished was symbolic! And yet it DID disrupt the SS in that it inspired so may other actions, and you can be sure some were very much more destructive. I remember the lady who was at a meeting (when Lynn Sachs discussed the action and her film at the Catonsville library) who was from Pennsylvania and said the draft board in her town was burnt to the ground? Persons have come up and told participants that their files had indeed been destroyed, saving them from Vietnam. Then too, the 9 helped the Vietnamese people by ending the U.S. participation in a bad war- but , on the negative side, on the shades of grey side, how much did we help them by ushering in the North Vietnamese regime? Indeed once we ended the draft, the military industrial complex plowed right on with a volunteer army. Let's ask some hard questions, shall we?
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