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Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  127 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Robert Coles first met Dorothy Day over thirty-five years ago when, as a medical student, he worked in one of her Catholic Worker soup kitchens. He remained close to this inspiring and controversial woman until her death in 1980. His book, an intellectual and psychological portrait, confronts candidly the central puzzles of her life: the sophisticated Greenwich Village nov ...more
Paperback, 206 pages
Published January 22nd 1989 by Da Capo Press (first published 1987)
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Dorothy Day was a radical Catholic who devoted her life to the homeless and disenfranchised. As a previous reviewer stated, she was "the real deal". She co-founded The Catholic Worker movement and published its newsletter while opening soup kitchens throughout New York. Robert Cole knew her well and brings her humanity (controversy and all) to these pages.
This book, this woman changed my life. At the time I read it, I was myself an agnostic (and former fundamental protestant) and a single mama. I was so powerfully moved by her conversion experience and authentic life of voluntary poverty. I especially related to her opposition to institutions, and her struggles with Church hierarchy. She didn't want to be called a saint, she said that anyone could do what she did. I have since converted to Catholicism, focusing on the actions of Jesus ("Red Lette ...more
Mark Rembert
Jun 10, 2007 Mark Rembert rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: activists, social servents
Dorothy Day is the real deal. One of the most inspiring and under appreciated humans of the 20th century. Founded the Catholic Workers Movement during the Depression (after converting to catholicism in her 20s)and went on to be one of the greatest social activists in American history. Seriously amazing stuff. On her way to sainthood.

The bio itself is phenomenal. Written by a psychiatrist, it very much comes from a psychoanalytical prospective with greater emphasis on analyzing Day then on her h
I found this book to be both an easier read and a more focused introduction to Dorothy's life than her autobiography (The Long Loneliness). There are significant, long quotes from Dorothy and excellent contextual framing from Coles. Reading both of these books gives an excellent feel for Dorothy's life both from her perspective and that of a third party (who was obviously inspired by her).
As a current student at a Lasallian college, I often heard Dorothy Day's name intertwined with service acts. I didn't know very much about her until picking up this book and, for some reason, didn't feel comfortable delving straight into Day's own writing without reading some sort of biography first. Coles does a great job of introducing Day to those unfamiliar with her (like myself), but those who already know her may find it repetitive. This biography truly shines when Coles inserts quotes fro ...more
Peter Davis
A great biography of a tremendous woman. Not your standard biography: instead of a linear as count of her life, it rather is organized thematically around her ideas.
Interesting book about a woman I greatly admire!
Though grossly neglected in conservative evangelical circles, Dorothy Day lived the way of the cross with spit and attitude for much of the twentieth century. Her own writings have never been quite effective for me, but her life is her real story, and this biography by Coles does some of the best, if not the best, work in capturing her amazing life. Dorothy understood what Jesus asked and did it.
Sabra Kurth
I knew very little about Dorothy Day, other than her work with the Catholic Worker Movement. Having read this biography, I am eager to read her writings and more books on her life and work and books that influenced her. Her story speaks to me on many levels and any superficial admiration I had for her has deepened. A true 20th century Doctor of the Church.
May 30, 2009 D rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to D by: TZ's bookshelf
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
radical but down-to-earth, humble but with a steely determination, short-fused but full of compassion.

dorothy day was an instruction manual, folks, on how to walk a moral minefield, finding divine direction DESPITE church and state.

a fascinating, amazing woman who lived good, didn't just think it. armchair philosopher? she'd spit in your eye.
Wouldn't it be remarkable if all Christians were as good at integrating the teachings of Jesus into their everyday lives as Dorothy Day was? If that were the case, there would be no Republicans left to vote down food stamps programs.
I only made it to page 111. Later in my life, I understood her struggle to slowly develop faith through action rather than the other way around.
Carl Cash
I think I will read some of her work. This was more a background and history of this controversial character.
I really enjoyed this introduction to an American saint. I look forward to reading more of her work!
essential and good
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Child psychiatrist, author, Harvard professor.

Robert Coles is a professor of psychiatry and medical humanities at the Harvard Medical School, a research psychiatrist for the Harvard University Health Services, and the James Agee Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard College.
More about Robert Coles...
The Story Of Ruby Bridges The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination The Spiritual Life of Children The Call of Service The Moral Intelligence of Children: How to Raise a Moral Child

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