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New book alert: I Don't Believe in Murder: Standing up for peace in World War I Canterbury

August 1, 2023

DSC’s long-time friend, Historian Margaret Lovell-Smith, has written a new book I Don't Believe in Murder: Standing up for peace in World War I Canterbury. Published by the University of Canterbury Press the book covers the peace movement before and during World War 1 and the strong response from Canterbury’s labour, socialist, and women’s movement as well as the stories of conscientious objectors who endured imprisonment and the loss of civil rights.

Last week Margaret did a talk about the book at Tūranga in Ōtautahi Christchurch – it was fascinating to learn more about this alternative history of the Canterbury region and how active organisations and individuals were in their commitment to peace.

For the book Margaret examined archives, newspapers,and family collections, bringing to life a crucial narrative for understanding the moral dilemmas posed by a country’s participation in armed conflict.

One quote from the book that mentioned in Margaret’s talk and has stuck in my mind as it so succinctly sums up the reality of war was Ada Wells proclaiming: 'War is organised murder' which she said at a Canterbury Women’s Institute organised anti-militarist meeting of women in Ashburton in October 1913.

If you are interested in purchasing the book you can do so here. You may also be able to request your local library to purchase the book too.

We also coordinate a website along with Margaret which complements the book well: ‘Voices Against War’. The site presents stories of women, men and their families throughout Canterbury who opposed conscription and militarism, supported the conscientious objectors, and campaigned for a new world order before during and after World War I.

The book and website are excellent historical resources from which we draw lessons and apply to the current global environment.


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