OVERRIDE

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Hardcover $26.99
A Radical Faith
The Assassination of Sister Maura

Summary

On a hot and dusty December day in 1980, the bodies of four American women—three of them Catholic nuns—were pulled from a hastily dug grave in a field outside San Salvador. They had been murdered two nights before by the US–trained El Salvadoran military. News of the killing shocked the American public and set off a decade of debate over Cold War policy in Latin America. The women themselves became symbols and martyrs, shorn of context and background.

In A Radical Faith, journalist Eileen Markey breathes life back into one of these women, Sister Maura Clarke. Who was this woman in the dirt? What led her to this vicious death so far from home? Maura was raised in a tight-knit Irish immigrant community in Queens, New York, during World War II. She became a missionary as a means to a life outside her small, orderly world and by the 1970s was organizing and marching for liberation alongside the poor of Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Maura’s story offers a window into the evolution of postwar Catholicism: from an inward-looking, protective institution in the 1950s to a community of people grappling with what it meant to live with purpose in a shockingly violent world. At its heart, A Radical Faith is an intimate portrait of one woman’s spiritual and political transformation and her courageous devotion to justice.

about Eileen Markey

  • Eileen Markey is an investigative journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, Wall Street Journal, National Catholic Reporter, America, Commonweal, and Killing the Buddha. She has worked as a producer for WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show and is a contributing editor for Housing and Homelessness at City Limits. Markey is a graduate of Fordham University’s urban studies program and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.

reviews

"I’ve always believed that responsibility, honesty, and faith are the three pillars of a strong character. Sister Maura Clarke, who recognized the humanity in everyone she met—from schoolchildren in the Bronx to farmers in Nicaragua—lived a life that served as a testament to that strength. Eileen Markey’s beautifully told narrative reminds us of Maura’s courage in the face of brutal dictators and shocking suffering. It’s an important story that has been forgotten for too long, and Markey’s book returns Maura to her deserved place in history.”
—Martin Sheen

“A beautifully rendered account of a true radical hero. Markey’s important book is a loving testament to their life and work.”
—Greg Grandin, author of The Empire of Necessity

“A vivid (if maddening) reminder of how the United States sold its moral credibility.”
—Charles P. Pierce, Esquire

“Who was this woman in the dirt? In life, she was selfless. In death, she is boundless. Eileen Markey’s patient, compassionate biography places Sister Maura Clarke in the firmament of Latin American icons.”
—Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, Amherst, and author of Latino USA

"A riveting portrait of a hidden saint. A stunning story that should be known by all who love the Gospel. And all who love humanity."
—James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage

“A spiritual and political thriller that is meanwhile a tender chronicle of one woman’s journey into history. This extraordinary book is a must-read for aspiring saints and rebels of all persuasions.”
—Nathan Schneider, author of God in Proof and Thank You, Anarchy

“The epic story of an ordinary woman swept into the maelstrom of Central American terror.”
—June Carolyn Erlick, author of Disappeared: A Journalist Silenced

"I am grateful for Eileen Markey’s beautiful and moving biography of Maura Clarke, the Maryknoll nun from Queens murdered by the Salvadoran army for embracing the full meaning of God’s love for the poor. The book shows how radical it was for Maura to live the implications of her faith as a missionary in humble Nicaraguan and Salvadoran communities. The story of her life, and of her murder together with fellow missionaries Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan, sheds light on the true nature of the Central American conflicts of the 1970s and 80s."
—Héctor Lindo-Fuentes, Professor of History, Fordham University

“In death, Maryknoll Sister Maura Clarke became known as a symbol of the brutality of El Salvador’s pitiless conflict in the 1980s. In this rare and beautiful book, Eileen Markey brings Maura to life. From her childhood in a tightly knit Irish Catholic neighborhood to her departure for Nicaragua in 1959 and subsequent murder in El Salvador, Maura’s life became interwoven with the tumultuous history of Cold War Central America. Drawing on personal correspondence and extensive interviews, Markey skillfully evokes the transformation of the Catholic Church during those turbulent decades, crafting a searing testament to the meaning of faith amidst the hard choices imposed by desperate circumstances.”
—Cynthia Arnson, Director, Latin American Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

A Radical Faith brings excitement, tension, and compassion to an overlooked story…Rich details and solid storytelling convey one nun's story of her dedication to God and her fellow humans."
—Kirkus Reviews

other editions

  • Hardcover | ISBN 9781568585734
    Pub date: 2016-11-08 | Price: $26.99/34.99 Canada
    Publisher: Nation Books
    6.500 x 9.700 | 336 Pages
    History / Latin America / Central America
    Biography & Autobiography / Religious
    Religion / Christian Life / Social Issues

  • eBook | ISBN 9781568585741
    Pub date: 2016-11-08 | Price: $17.99/17.99 Canada
    Publisher: Nation Books
    6.125 x 9.250 | 336 Pages
    History / Latin America / Central America
    Biography & Autobiography / Religious
    Religion / Christian Life / Social Issues