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The Harrisburg 7 and the New Catholic Left

40th Anniversary Edition

William O'Rourke

Publication Year: 2012

“During the first three months of 1972 a trial took place in the middle district of Pennsylvania: THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA versus Eqbal Ahmad, Philip Berrigan, Elizabeth McAlister, Neil McLaughlin, Anthony Scoblick, Mary Cain Scoblick, Joseph Wenderoth. The defendants stood accused of conspiring to raid federal offices, to bomb government property, and to kidnap presidential advisor Henry Kissinger. Six of those seven individuals are, or were, Roman Catholic clergy—priests and nuns. Members of the new ‘Catholic Left.’”—from the introduction

When The Harrisburg 7 and the New Catholic Left was originally published in 1972, it remained on The New York Times Book Review “New and Recommended” list for six weeks and was selected as one of the Notable Books of the Year. Now, forty years later, William O’Rourke’s book eloquently speaks to a new generation of readers interested in American history and the religious anti-war protest movements of the Vietnam era.
O’Rourke brings to life the seven anti-war activists, who were vigorously prosecuted for alleged criminal plots, filling in the drama of the case, the trial, the events, the demonstrations, the panels, and the people. O’Rourke includes a new afterword that presents a sketch of the evolution of protest groups from the 1960s and 1970s, including the history of the New Catholic Left for the past four decades, claiming that “[a]fter the Harrisburg trial, the New Catholic Left became the New Catholic Right.”

“O’Rourke’s book on the Harrisburg trial was a classic when it first appeared and remains a classic of trial reporting, an account even forty years later that is still pertinent to our contemporary situation. His new afterword is a gem of condensed history. It is a boon to journalists, historians, and political analysts, as well as the general reader, to have this book back in print.” —David Black, author of The King of Fifth Avenue and The Extinction Event

Reviews for the first edition:

“. . . a paean to the seven religious revolutionaries, a rueful but loving acknowledgment of their ‘brave and foolish letters,’ and a solemn threnody for the Catholic left, ‘broken by the mortar and pestle of this trial.'" —New Republic

“[The book is] in my opinion, a discovery, not so much about the facts of the trial but about what the antiwar priests and nuns of today mean to Catholic youth.”—Herbert Mitgang, The Progressive
"This is not only the best volume on any of the recent political trials. . . but a clinical x-ray of our society’s condition." — Garry Wills, The New York Times Book Review

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-x

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Preface to the Fortieth Anniversary Edition

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pp. xi-xii

What follows is the original edition of my 1972 book, The Harrisburg 7 and the New Catholic Left. The text hasn’t been changed, but I have added at the end a list of annotated errata, which corrects typos and lets me elaborate on a few small mistakes in the account. They explain the nature of the error. And I have added a closing afterword, which attempts to bring some things, but not all, up to date, such as the evolution of the...

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pp. xiii-xiv

In the logic of our time, it is better to have a bad experience that turns out well, than to have just a plain good one.
During the first three months of 1 972 a trial took place in the middle district of Pennsylvania : THE UNITED STATES of AMERICA versus Eqbal Ahmad, Philip Berrigan, Elizabeth McAlister, Neil McLaughlin, Anthony Scoblick, Mary Cain...

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pp. xv-xx

The Cathedral of Mary Our Queen is surrounded by well-groomed duchies of northern Baltimore suburbia. It is a dormant creature, roused only for events, such as the funerals of special men.
The interior, over a hundred yards long, is a solemn cavity, vast enough to shelter a dirigible. There are many small altars along the sidewalls, each dedicated to a particular saint. Twenty-four...

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Chapter 1: Pretrial Motions

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pp. 1-25

I have never gotten into a rent-a-car without a knob falling off in my hand. The Avis girl looked like a grounded airline stewardess. The airport had been made idle by fog and the people in the terminal wait patiently for it to rise like servants their master's awakening. The car was a "Demon . " If a door ever opened on America's soul it might smell like the interior of a new automobile....

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Chapter 2: Jury Selection

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pp. 26-75

"You're number thirteen," I am told, coming up to the short queue. It is six thirty in the morning and a cobalt blue band rings the horizon.
"Someone has been here since four. "
"Get his name ; it should be recorded for posterity. "
"You're number fourteen," the St. Louis...

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Chapter 3: Before Boyd

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pp. 76-139

Spotlights are the farthest social extension of the interrogator's bare bulb and two of them are trained on the platform that awaits Joan Baez. Behind it is an exit that leads to the dressing rooms under the stands, but those arc not outfitted with birdcage lights and many mirrors, for the acts this hall sees are usually booked not by agents, but by livestockers and tractor dealers; this is ...

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Chapter 4: Boyd

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pp. 140-215

Until the winter of 1970 Boyd F. Douglas, Jr., had never owned a car. He h ad commandeered a few. A red station-wagon had once caught his fancy . Leaving a bank in haste, the boundaries of private property dissolved and he leapt into one, then another, trying to start them . He wanted to disappear. Cars are magic . Boyd did not have the proper spell. A voodoo ring of FBI and...

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Chapter 5: After Boyd

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pp. 216-250

Boyd returned the following morning for redirect. It was very brief. Lynch inquired of Boyd if he had a corrupt economic motive for doing what he did. Boyd replied, "I did not." He gave the same answer when asked if he did i t all with an extortionist's intent. Then Lynch asked if had been employed during the time he lived i n Phoenix. Boyd s aid that he had been gainfully employed...

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Chapter 6: Verdict

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pp. 251-263

Islanded, they rest on a raised back of earth, while the river flows in two strands around them. They might as well cling to a dead rock cleaving space since they h ail a corpse's rising. The sky at dawn is preternaturally pink. Gathered at the water's edge, they appear to b e a sect which practices baptism by submergence. Glum exiles , they sing hymns, the grateful and perplexed survivors...

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pp. 264-264

At the end of the street the Federal Building is on, the good citizens of Harrisburg have erected a small monument in the narrow park that runs along the bank of the Susquehanna. It is a white...

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pp. 265-293

Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), late in his life, leafing through an early work he had written (A Tale of the Tub), exclaimed, “What a wit I had then!” When I look back at my Harrisburg book forty years later I realize not that I was once so full of wit but how I was certainly the right author

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 294-297

Annotated Errata

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pp. 298-299


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pp. 300-320

E-ISBN-13: 9780268088637
E-ISBN-10: 0268088632
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268037338
Print-ISBN-10: 0268037337

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: No e-rights for images
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 809317459
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Harrisburg 7 and the New Catholic Left