About Peggy Hanna

Peggy Hanna, a Chicago native, became active politically after moving to Ohio in 1965. She was the co-chair of Springfield People for Peace and elected a McGovern delegate to the 1972 Democrat National Convention.

To read more about Peggy Hanna, click here.

Sociology Teaching Guide

This is a memoir about one woman’s changing perspective on war.  Loads of sociological insights on our culture and our institutions.  Very timely in light of the current war in Iraq.

Discussion questions:

General to get started:

  1. What do they think of the book?
  2. What sociological insights do they see in it?  Examples?


  1. How do we define and portray “patriotism” in our society?  Be as specific as possible and be sure to describe, specifically, “patriotism” during a war.
    1. How does this definition/belief compare to our cultural values and beliefs (about violence)?
    2. What can we learn from Hanna’s experience about our (1) culture, (2) society, and (3) patriotism?
  2. In the book, which social institutions influenced dominant perceptions of the war and what it meant to be “patriotic”? How did they influence perceptions?
  3. What were the dominant social forces influencing Ms. Hanna’s identity and life as a Hawk? (be thinking about social structure: statuses, groups, organizations, and institutions)
    1. Why was she able to live much of her life without questioning these beliefs?
    2. What social forces ignited her questioning of these beliefs and ultimately influenced her transition from Hawk to Dove?
  4. What are the social and cultural challenges “peace activists”(i.e., “doves”) face in their fight against war?
    1. In light of your answers to these questions, how was the war in Vietnam (and dominant beliefs about it) similar to and different from our experience today in Iraq?
  5. What events lead up to the Vietnam War?
    1. What was the government’s justification for engaging in Vietnam?
    2. How is this situation similar to and different from the current situation in Iraq?
  6. What was the social (political and economic) context surrounding the Vietnam War? (US and Global in the 1950’s and 1960’s)?
    1. Why so many active social movements at the time? (peace, civil rights, women’s)
    2. How is this similar to and different from today’s social (political and economic) context?
  7. Hanna describes her process of going from “ache to anger to activism.”  What fueled her transition from one stage to the next?  What is the tipping point when individuals (you personally) move from anger to activism?
  8. Hanna describes her process of beginning to question the government and some of her fundamental beliefs about the US (and other).  How does “questioning” begin?  What causes it? Why do some do it and others do not?
    1. There are five criteria for success of a social movement (coherent ideology, rising expectations, resource mobilization, bureaucratization, open political opportunity structure).  What characteristics did the peace movement, particularly Springfield People for Peace, display?  What did they lack?  How successful were they?  Why?