Not One More Mother's Child
by Cindy Sheehan (Kihei, Maui, HI: Koa Books, 2005)
This book review starts the same way I end it: Read this book. It is worth your time.
I received my review copy of Cindy Sheehan’s book on December 2, 2005 — the same day the American people learned that 10 Marines had been blown up by a bomb near Fallujah. One more soldier fell elsewhere on that day, for a total of 11 dead and others seriously wounded. More than 2,130 mothers so far have lost their children in Bush’s Iraq invasion and occupation war. Ms. Sheehan’s book title, Not One More Mother’s Child, could hardly be more appropriate to the times.
It is telling that George W. Bush had made a speech that same day about the U.S. economy — without once mentioning that he already knew those Marines had died the day before. Cindy Sheehan regards George W. Bush as a cowardly criminal with no heart. I agree, and he revealed it again through his words — or the lack of them — on the very day I received the book.
Disclosure: I had met Cindy Sheehan personally in May 2005, before she decided to go to Crawford and ask George W. Bush, “What ‘Noble Cause?’” She had come to talk with us at my local Democratic Club. And that is what she did: talk with us. I was so impressed by her words that I followed her out to her car and apologized that my participation in the pre-invasion protests had not saved her son. Later I participated in a “Meet With Cindy” vigil during August 2005. I also read and posted comments on her diaries at Daily Kos, one of the many blogs discussing Camp Casey.
Cindy has a simple, declarative writing style that shows in every paragraph the focus of her life after Casey Sheehan’s death. So directed is she that I almost feel sorry for George W. Bush for having opened a Pandora’s Box in his heedless rush to war.
This book is a combination of letters written and received, photographs from individuals and professionals, blog posts, quotations from people Sheehan respects, testimony from the Conyers hearings in the basement of the U.S. House of Representatives, media stories and Cindy Sheehan’s own testimony.
There is about much of the book a conversational quality, as if you were listening in to Cindy talking with her family, friends, national leaders and her son Casey on a spiritual telephone circuit, talking about the events in 2005 America under the Bush regime.
Cindy’s words are those of a very uncommon, common American. As you read the book, you come to “know” her better than many others you regard as people you know. You can feel her love for her sweet baby. Her description of grief at the forcible amputation of her son from her is palpable.
As you read, you come to realize that Cindy Sheehan is a person of active faith; you watch as she strives to harness her anger, despair and grief to put into service to humanity. She comes to focus on affirming life by ending the Iraq War and bringing other mothers’ children back home.
Our lives are an unfolding of events and reactions to those events, and you can feel Cindy’s grieving process through every new page. Yet the book is not depressing. On the contrary, it is hopeful, as she feels people’s love and empathy flow to her grief.
As Bush makes various statements to the media and these are broadcast to the nation, you can watch the buildup to Cindy’s idea of going to Crawford. You see support developing, people gathering, and the media attention building.
Her vigil begins. Camp Casey is named, is moved and grows. Reading on, you see her realization that she has become the focal point of a larger movement to end the war. Camp Casey even continues to grow when she goes to visit her mother, who suffered a stroke while Cindy was in Crawford.
Then Hurricane Katrina strikes New Orleans as August comes to a close, and the Camp Casey movement grows again to help fellow Americans in need. As with all interesting personal narratives, you are left wanting to know more when Cindy takes Camp Casey to Washington, DC, for the September war protests.
You also learn from the book that Cindy has openly stated criticisms of several “big-name” Democratic politicians who enabled George Bush in starting his war. She criticizes their stances when she meets with them in Washington (as well as when they hide from her).
For those who feel this book might be old news, on December 4th the White House sent Steven Hadley to the Sunday TV “political talking head” shows. Why mention this? Two reasons: One, Steven Hadley was one of two Bush aides who had been sent to try to talk Cindy into stopping her vigil outside the Bush “ranch” in Crawford. And two, Steven Hadley was one of the “yellowcake uranium liars” who slipped the infamous “16 words” into Bush’s State of the Union message as a prelude to the Iraq invasion. Those 16 words triggered the chain of events resulting in the CIA non-official cover operative Valerie Plame’s being outed and the Fitzgerald investigation that followed.
Reading Cindy’s very brief opinions about having one of the National Security Council liars come to “b.s.” her, having met these people and looking them in the eyes, is straight and refreshing. You will know and perhaps share her opinion of all the professional manipulators of our corporate-controlled media. You will feel the storm of media attention, character assassination and name-calling that surrounded this mother who admits she once thought, “How much damage could Bush do in four years?”
While you may or may not agree with everything Cindy Sheehan has to say, you will find it interesting, challenging and an insight into the mind of a person who takes it upon herself to change perceptions in our overly media-fed America.
Read this book. It is worth your time.
ePluribus Contributors: Aaron Barlow, Sue in KY, JeninRI and Standingup