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Teaching Peace
Students Exchange Letters with Their Teacher

Author(s): Colman McCarthy

To see if nonviolence could be taught, in 1982 Colman McCarthy became a volunteer teacher at one of the poorest high schools in Washington, DC. In the thirty-two years since then, he has taught peace studies courses for more than ten thousand college and high school students. Large numbers of those students have faithfully kept in touch with McCarthy, often with handwritten letters, and he has answered them with the same seriousness he brought to his columns and books. The exchanges rise to a rare kind of literature that blends personal warmth, intellectual honesty, and shared idealism.

The discussions range from peace and war to a host of other issues of social justice, such as the death penalty, human rights, poverty, the living wage, animal rights, and vegetarianism. The wide-ranging letters suggest how teacher and students co-create a world of more love and less hate.

Biography of Author(s)

Colman McCarthy, a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post for nearly thirty years, is the cofounder and director of The Center for Teaching Peace. He is the author of seven previous books and editor of three. His articles have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Nation, The Progressive, The New Republic, The Atlantic, and National Catholic Reporter.


  • "When I visit Washington, one of my delights is spending time with Colman McCarthy and his students. This book brings to life the work of a caring teacher who loves his students with the same passion he brings to the classroom in his courses on pacifism and nonviolence. A singular and credible work sure to inspire and endure."
    --Joan Baez
  • "Formerly a Washington Post columnist and editorial writer, Colman McCarthy is the leading teacher and promoter of peace studies in America, which is why few Americans have heard of him. But ten thousand high school and college students and prison inmates know him and will never forget the impact of his memorable exchanges over the historic morality and function of nonviolence to head off wars and other forms of violence. This book pulsates with thoughtful letters from his students and McCarthy's fascinating responses. Rush this book to your children's schools and raise a generation of Americans who are motivated to wage peace to resolve conflicts. This is a book like no other and, like words of wisdom and importance, it is graced with humor and wit and phrases you'll want to use with other human beings."
    --Ralph Nader
  • "Colman is a no-prisoners peacemaker: no compromise with violence and no compromise with war. Read the book, but better still, live the life of peace to which he beckons us all."
    --Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman and CEO of the Special Olympics