The hard work of peace

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The roots of the current conflict between Georgia and Russia over the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia run deep, as the Monitor reports today. The turn of events serves as a sobering reminder at how hard it can be to establish peaceful relations between nations and how easy it seems to wipe away years of work and trust.

To help shift focus in a more constructive direction, the 10 finalists for the 2008 Dayton Literary Peace Prize have been released this week. The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is the "only international literary peace prize award in the United States" that aims to recognize "adult fiction and nonfiction authors whose works promote the cause of peace."

If you aren't familiar with these titles yet, they might be worth adding to the pile on your nightstand. They are:

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"The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz
"Coal Black Horse" by Robert Olmstead
"Lost City Radio" by Daniel Alacorn
"The Ocean in the Closet" by Yuko Taniguchi
"Song for Night" by Chris Abani
"Acts of Faith" by Eboo Patel
"Are We Rome?" by Cullen Murphy
"Break Through" by Michel Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus
"Brother, I am Dying" by Edwidge Danticat
"Fragile Edge" by Julia Whitty

This collection of titles touches on a number of topics, ranging from the immigrant experience to the lasting social effects of war to environmental concerns. All in some way focus on moving civilization forward, despite the setbacks.

That's another reminder we can use today: Good also has its deep roots. Never underestimate the power of a carefully constructed book to serve as an agent of change.

What books have you read that you feel promote the cause of peace?

Marjorie Kehe is on vacation this week.

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