The Institute has released a new edition of The Essays of A.J. Muste, first published in 1967. The twenty-eight essays in this nearly 600-page volume are presented as written during the many decades of A.J. Muste’s activism. “Sketches for an Autobiography” eloquently describes his life as a radical pacifist, political organizer, minister and pragmatic philosopher. There are entertaining and historically important accounts of his work with other civil rights, antiwar, and labor leaders and of his international travels to promote peace. The essays paint a clear picture of how Mr. Muste and the pacifist left became the “glue” that held so many, often disparate, factions together during many era’s of progressive organizing in the United States. His political analyses make an excellent foundation for both studying and building effective movements for peace and social justice.
On the current edition:
“Muste did not write to be studied in the abstract. The Essays call to the conscience of each reader to engage in ‘responsible living . . . being engaged in the struggle against injustice and tyranny’ as he expressed in his ‘Sketches for an Autobiography.’ When Muste died, the notice read: ‘in lieu of flowers, friends are requested to get out and work-for peace, human rights, for a better world.’ This reissue of his Essays is a fitting way to renew that request.” - Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson, from her Preface
On the first edition:
“A.J. Muste stands out in our time, and I believe that he will stand out in history, as a great leader of a pacifism which is anything but passive. He is a man who believes that real victories for peace and social justice must, and can, be won by nonviolent means. This book . . . vividly illustrates the change and growth in thought of a man whose steadfastness of purpose and dedication to his fellow men were constant.” - Norman Thomas
“Historians of the future who want to know what it meant to live with integrity in the twentieth-century era of wars and revolutions will very likely begin with the life of A.J. Muste. He has confronted the violence which threatens to destroy us with the whole of his life. I am one of the many who has learned from him the virtues of grace under pressure, and how to bring to bear wit and compassion simultaneously.” - Staughton Lynd