For more than five decades, Marv Davidov has been a fixture on the streets of Minneapolis, on college campuses and in newsrooms and boardrooms around the Twin Cities, a persistent spokesman against war and injustice.
His longest running battle was the Honeywell Project, pitting Davidov and hundreds of citizens against Honeywell Inc., which was then headquartered in Minneapolis and was the state's largest military contractor.
Honeywell's "cluster bomb" became the symbol of the protest, and for years Davidov carried an unarmed version with him wherever he went. The story of a judge who insisted he relinquish the bomb in his courtroom is among the anecdotes in this book about Davidov's life.
The author, poet Carol Masters, joined the protest movement herself in the 1980s and has spent 25 years listening to Davidov's stories. More recently she began taping his recollections and providing historical detail.
In 1949, at 18, Davidov moved from Detroit to St. Paul to work in his uncles' Midway department store and begin classes at Macalester College. His parents and brother joined him a year later and, except for a brief stint in the Army and several years in the mid-'60s in Berkeley, Calif., he has always called the Twin Cities home.
The book contains frank admissions: Davidov describes his bouts with depression. There are hints at his many romantic liaisons. There are complaints about the lack of media coverage for his causes.
And there are countless names of those who inspired him (from Dan and Phil Berrigan, John Lewis and Grace Paley, to Meridel LeSueur, Vernon and Clyde Bellecourt, and Howard Zinn), and details about the many causes Davidov has joined. He was a Freedom Rider in the South in the early '60s, a participant in the Walk to Cuba for Peace effort, a part of the Minnesota farmers' power line struggle. He joined Native American causes, labor union struggles, Vietnam War protests, and protests against the war in Iraq. But the Honeywell Project was his centerpiece.
In 1990, Honeywell announced a spin-off of its military and marine systems business into a new company, Alliant Tech Systems Inc. Davidov's take: that more than 20 years of protests were worth it. "After 2,200 arrests and nearly 100 trials, Honeywell reduced its dependence on weapons systems. We were -- thousands of us -- a major factor in the decision."
Now nearing his 80th year, Davidov has survived prostate cancer, has diabetes, kidney failure and undergoes dialysis three times a week. But that hasn't stopped him from telling his stories to the medical staff who care for him and to his students at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, where he co-teaches a class called Active Nonviolence in Justice and Peace.
The book ends with "A Note of Thanks from Marv" -- six pages, in small type -- for the people who supported him with money, medical care and legal aid and helped him foster peace and justice in the world.
The last paragraph is Davidov's list of more than a dozen things still needed to reform the United States. Clearly, his work is not complete.
Marilyn Hoegemeyer is a former assigning editor for the Star Tribune.