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Down in My Heart

Peace Witness in War Time

Second

William Stafford

Introduction by Kim Stafford

Northwest Reprints

5-1/2 × 8-1/2 inches. B&W photographs. 128 pages.

2006. ISBN 978-0-87071-097-1. Paperback, $15.95.

From 1942 to 1946, William Stafford was interned in camps for conscientious objectors after refusing to be inducted into the U.S. Army. As a pacifist, he worked on conservation projects for Civilian Public Service, an alternative program for young men who refused to participate in World War II. As a writer, he recorded the life he found there: the fellowship within the camps and the antagonism outside them.

Down in My Heart tells the story of how a wartime draft created a community for peace. It recounts life in the camps: the men’s day-to-day activities—fighting forest fires, building trails and roads, restoring eroded lands—and their earnest pursuit of a social ethic rooted in religious and secular pacifist ideals. In his introduction to this new edition of the book, Kim Stafford calls them a “generation of seekers,” men who practiced alternatives to violence, refused to augment the killing, and spent the war years working full time to “envision ways to avoid the next war.”

A fascinating look at the formative years of a major American poet, Down in My Heart also provides a rich glimpse into a little-known aspect of the war. First published in 1947, it remains timely, inviting readers to imagine how this legacy of pacifism might inform their own lives.

Of related interest: Writing the World: Understanding William Stafford
Judith Kitchen

Member of AAUP