JOHN LOUGHERY AND Blythe Randolph have written a compelling and complete biography of a complex woman who may be the next American saint—and written it with a vibrant, personal voice. They place Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day’s life in historical context, something the small circle of the Catholic Left I inhabit sometimes doesn’t see, which makes this book different than others about her. It inserts her life squarely into the times in which she lived and shows how her fidelity to the gospel as a journalist, activist, and Christian anarchist put her at odds with both church and state. It also shows how she persisted, becoming more and more herself as she aged.
Loughery and Randolph describe Day’s childhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., Oakland, Calif., and finally Chicago; her recognition of an affinity with socialism and pacifism while at the University of Illinois; the men and women she worked and drank with during her young days in Greenwich Village; and her first arrest—as a suffragist.