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My Name Is Jody Williams

My Name Is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl's Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize

Jody Williams
Foreword by Eve Ensler
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Pages: 286
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  • Book Info
    My Name Is Jody Williams
    Book Description:

    As Eve Ensler says in her inspired foreword to this book, “Jody Williams is many things—a simple girl from Vermont, a sister of a disabled brother, a loving wife, an intense character full of fury and mischief, a great strategist, an excellent organizer, a brave and relentless advocate, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. But to me Jody Williams is, first and foremost, an activist.” From her modest beginnings to becoming the tenth woman—and third American woman—to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Jody Williams takes the reader through the ups and downs of her tumultuous and remarkable life. In a voice that is at once candid, straightforward, and intimate, Williams describes her Catholic roots, her first step on a long road to standing up to bullies with the defense of her deaf brother Stephen, her transformation from good girl to college hippie at the University of Vermont, and her protest of the war in Vietnam. She relates how, in 1981, she began her lifelong dedication to global activism as she battled to stop the U.S.-backed war in El Salvador. Throughout the memoir, Williams underlines her belief that an “average woman”—through perseverance, courage and imagination—can make something extraordinary happen. She tells how, when asked if she’d start a campaign to ban and clear anti-personnel mines, she took up the challenge, and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) was born. Her engrossing account of the genesis and evolution of the campaign, culminating in 1997 with the Nobel Peace Prize, vividly demonstrates how one woman’s commitment to freedom, self-determination, and human rights can have a profound impact on people all over the globe.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95533-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Eve Ensler

    Jody Williams is many things—a simple girl from Vermont, a sister of a disabled brother, a loving wife, an intense character full of fury and mischief, a great strategist, an excellent organizer, a brave and relentless advocate, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. But to me Jody Williams is, first and foremost, an activist.

    What is an activist? The dictionary says, “an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, especially a political cause.” My sense—and I think it is most clear in this stirring memoir—is that an activist is someone who cannot help but fight for something....

  4. PROLOGUE: October 10, 1997
    (pp. xiii-xviii)

    The phone did not ring at 3 a.m. on Friday, October 10, 1997. It didn’t ring at 3:15. It didn’t ring at 3:30 either. If we didn’texpectit to ring, we certainlyhopedit would. But it didn’t. Deflated, at least Goose and I could finally let it go and go to sleep. Since we’d finished cleaning the kitchen around midnight, we’d been tossing and turning in bed for hours.

    We dozed off only to be woken up by the harsh ringing of the phone. I looked at the clock. It was 4 a.m. My heart was pounding. It...


    • CHAPTER ONE What Do You Mean I Can’t Be the Pope?
      (pp. 3-14)

      At some point in grade school, I finally realized I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming the first woman pope. Then again, I’d also been slow in noticing I couldn’t even be an altar boy. Perhaps that turned out to be not such a bad thing, but at the time it felt unfair. Why boys only? What was so special about them?

      I so wanted to be clothed in magnificent vestments one day, head bowed to receive the Papal Crown. And of course, I’d be fluent in Latin. At church on Sundays, I’d imagine myself gloriously robed,...

    • CHAPTER TWO A Special Place in Hell
      (pp. 15-35)

      When they took increasing pleasure in harassing Steve, I became certain Billy and Bobby, the boys who lived next door, merited a special place in hell. Certainly their souls must be dark if they could act like that toward my handicapped brother. He hadn’t chosen to be deaf. He couldn’t help it if he couldn’t talk. The brothers morphed from simply irritating next-door neighbors into nasty nemeses we’d escape only with our move away from Poultney.

      Billy and Bobby etched themselves into my memory on a day that started out innocuously enough when Steve and I set out for a...

    • CHAPTER THREE Claude, Casey, and the Corvair Convertible
      (pp. 36-54)

      In the last days of summer in 1967, I fell in love with Claude. It was an August afternoon before the start of our senior year in high school when we first noticed each other. I was sixteen. Everybody was at the bowling alley. I hated bowling, but it was a place to hang out when the day wasn’t nice enough to spend at the lake. So there I was at the Brattleboro Bowl with a bunch of girls, watching the boys watching us back.

      Claude and I had seen each other in school over the years and never given...

    • CHAPTER FOUR V-I-E-T-N-A-M, Marriage, and Mexico
      (pp. 55-76)

      The courses I cobbled together at school served mostly as a backdrop for events that would have lasting impact on my life. Increasingly I focused on the social turmoil in the country. And for me that was expressed by protests about the war in Vietnam. My college years weren’t only a time of my metamorphosis from prim and proper freshman to college hippie. I also changed from a fairly uncritical product of our culture and history books to embryonic activist.

      Vietnam became emblematic for a complex storm made up of the civil rights movement, feminism, and full-scale U.S. military intervention...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Pamphlet
      (pp. 79-100)

      It was a gray, damp-cold February day in 1981, the kind that typifies winter in Washington, D.C. I was walking fast down Connecticut Avenue, my cowboy boots hitting the pavement decisively. I’ve had a strong gait almost since I could walk. From time to time I’d tried to teach myself to glide, ladylike, across the floor, but it never took. That afternoon I was headed for the nearest Metro stop to catch a train home to Arlington. Getting far away from work as quickly as possible was at the forefront of my mind.

      Since the previous September, I’d been teaching...

    • CHAPTER SIX Boots on the Ground: Sandinista Interlude
      (pp. 101-123)

      My first time in Managua, near the end of 1984, I kept looking for the city. I could never find it. It was the capital of the country, yet it never felt like a real city. There was no downtown. What had been the city center of old Managua was destroyed in a devastating earthquake in 1972. After that, it existed only in old photographs and the memories of people who knew it before it crumbled. There was a restaurant in Managua whose walls were adorned with old photos, and Lisa Veneklasen and I always took our delegations of Americans...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Dinner with the Death Squad
      (pp. 124-142)

      San Salvador was a city of menace. This despite the fact that the Salvadoran military’s counterinsurgency campaign in 1988 continued to ravage campesino villages in the countryside far from the capital. If you hung out in San Salvador too long, you learned to sit with your back against the wall. You also began to walk facing the oncoming traffic. If somebody were to jump out of a car and try to snatch you, it would be better to see him first. When we looked for a hotel for Medical Aid staff to stay in, we looked for security.

      The hotel...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT I Thought I Wanted a Straight Job—Instead I Got Landmines
      (pp. 143-170)

      It was 1991. I didn’t want to think about war in Central America, scorched earth campaigns against peasant villages, tortured and murdered civilians, or the military and death squads who murdered them. My work had left me drained, even as the political situation in Central America grew more complex.

      In February of the previous year, and to the shock of many, the Sandinistas had lost the general elections in Nicaragua, and Violeta Chamorro, head of the opposition newspaperLa Prensa Libre, became president of the country. It wasn’t close. The Sandinista president, Daniel Ortega, received 40 percent of the vote...

    • CHAPTER NINE Landmines and Love
      (pp. 171-199)

      Imagine a bunch of men in suits and military uniforms in meeting rooms and coffee bars at the U.N. overlooking the splendid lake in Geneva framed by the Alps. In glorious isolation, they conveniently divorce themselves from the fact that landmines kill or maim a woman, a child, or a man somewhere in the world every twenty minutes. They content themselves with tinkering with words in the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Protocol II, the landmine protocol, without seriously thinking about or making a dent in the problem itself.

      The diplomats and military strove to focus narrowly on military...

    • CHAPTER TEN The Ottawa Process and the 1997 Landmine Ban World Tour
      (pp. 200-226)

      Bob Lawson of the bad outfits and brown suede shoes was our primary link with the Canadian government. His experience in the worlds of both government and NGOs made him a natural partner. We communicated feverishly while preparing for the October meeting. Bob and Goose worked particularly closely together, then and for the next few years.

      Some of us did come to poke fun at them, calling them the “dynamic duo.” But the reality was that they were. Something about the way their brains worked individually and together got their creative sides going, and they produced some amazing and truly...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Whirlwind: October 10 to December 10, 1997
      (pp. 227-245)

      Is there such a thing as too much euphoria? In five short years we’d gone from launching the International Campaign to Ban Landmines to the creation of the Mine Ban Treaty. That already was so much more than, and phenomenally faster than, any of us had expected when we launched the ICBL. We were riding waves of joy and disbelief over that accomplishment. Now, only three weeks later, on October 10, 1997, we were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It was unreal. Surreal.

      Even with all the speculation and hype about the ICBL as front-runner, almost nobody really believed a...

  7. Epilogue
    (pp. 246-258)

    Peace. It’s a tough word. For some it calls up images of weak-kneed utopians or tree-hugging liberals or any number of demeaning words meant to delegitimize the hard work involved in convincing people that aggression, violence, and war are choices and not the inevitable fate of humans. They are also words that can cut off real discussion about what peace is and isn’t, and what it would take to build sustainable peace.

    Real peace is not simply the absence of armed conflict, but it took me a long time to fully understand that. When I protested against the war in...

    (pp. 259-260)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 261-264)