Sacred Are the Brave is a collection of nine short stories centred around the theme of non-violent resistance, particularly the world-wide events of 1989, a watershed year in the use of non-violence as an instrument of change.
The book starts off strong with “Hunger Strike”. The spare narrative style sets off the intensity of the situation. It also provided a good introduction to the concept of non-violent resistance with an individual example that gives the reader more insight into the emotional basis for this type of action.
My favourite stories were “Imelda’s Shoes” and “Solidarność”. “Imelda’s Shoes” is the story of a socially awkward American reporter who makes a huge impact reporting on the use of non-violent action against the Marcos regime in the Philippines. The protagonist was very relatable, and it was one of the more cohesive stories. I think “Solidarność” appealed to me mainly because it reminded me of the difficulties that faced steel workers in my hometown of Buffalo, NY at that time, many of whom were also Polish. I wondered if they felt a sense of solidarity with their fellow Poles fighting the Soviet regime.
Another notable story is “Journal Entries – Czechoslovakia – 1989”. Written, as one would expect, as a series of diary entries, this format is an excellent way to give us an overview of the events happening around the world in 1989, from the point of view of a character deeply affected by them.
While I understood the significance of the year 1989 to the topic of the book, I felt it was unnecessary to divide the book up in sections according to whether the stories took place pre- or post-1989. On the other hand, it would have been immensely useful if each story was headed by a small note with the date and conflict that served as the setting of the story. Having a reference point would have made it easier to get more out of the book.
This would be an excellent book for a class or discussion group on non-violence or political literature. The average reader may have to do a little research to fully grasp the circumstances of the stories, but in my view the strength of this book is that it makes you want to find out more.
Title: Sacred Are the Brave
Author: James D. Sanderson
Genre: Short Stories
Publication: March 1st, 2012; James D. Sanderson
Price: $2.99 (Kindle)
Author’s Website: http://jamesdsanderson.blogspot.com/