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Peace Resource Center Publishes 'To Russia with Love'

Book to Debut at Westheimer Peace Symposium

October 19, 2010

(ABOVE) The book cover designed by WC senior Amanda Toney. (BELOW) Photos of the 'Phoenix of Hiroshima' taken by Jeff Hood of the Stockton (Calif.) Record.

(ABOVE) The book cover designed by WC senior Amanda Toney. (BELOW) Photos of the 'Phoenix of Hiroshima' taken by Jeff Hood of the Stockton (Calif.) Record.

A teenager’s recollection of her family’s perilous journey sailing into restricted waters to protest the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons testing is depicted in a new book written by the daughter of the founder of the Peace Resource Center at Wilmington College.

Jessica Reynolds-Renshaw tells the story of the historic Phoenix of Hiroshima, a 50-foot sailboat that her parents, Earle and Barbara Reynolds, intentionally navigated into the USSR’s nuclear test zone in the Pacific Ocean 49 years ago this month.

Her book is titled To Russia with Love: An American Family Challenges Nuclear Testing.

The Peace Resource Center published Reynolds-Renshaw’s memoir with hope it will be read by high school and middle school students. The newly published book will be available Oct. 20 at the 20th annual Westheimer Peace Symposium.

The official release date is Oct. 21, which will be 49 years to the day from when the Reynolds family met the Soviets to deliver their message for peace. The book, which features editing and layout design by WC senior Amanda Toney, will be sold at the Peace Resource Center.

Jim Boland, director of the Peace Resource Center, noted they have had Reynolds-Renshaw’s manuscript for many years, as her book was published in Japanese years ago, but they felt her story would reach a broader American audience by finally publishing the book in English.

“It’s an incredible story — Jessica's journal provides day-to-day detail about their passion for ridding the world of nuclear weapons,” he said. “It also gives insight into a remarkable family and their life at sea.”
Jessica Reynolds was 17 years old when, in 1961, her family proved “that ordinary people of good will can make a difference.”

Their dangerous venture garnered international press and increased public scrutiny of the Superpowers’ arms race involving nuclear weaponry and inflammatory rhetoric.

Dr. Helen Caldicott, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and author of the book If You Love This Planet, lauds the book for its compelling story and praises the Reynolds family for its courage.

“Just as I’ve shared with the world my own beliefs about the need for international disarmament, Jessica shares an account sure to inspire you to action,” Caldicott said. “The Reynolds family publicly and bravely challenged one of humankind’s gravest mistakes — the advancement into the nuclear age.”

In the early 1950s, the Atomic Energy Commission sent anthropologist Earle Reynolds to study the effects of radiation on the children of Hiroshima. United States armed forces dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, hastening the end of World War II and ushering in the nuclear age.

Earle and Barbara were profoundly affected by what they witnessed and made a commitment to increase the world’s awareness of the horrible cost of atomic warfare. Barbara was known as “the flower of Hiroshima” for her support of those afflicted with radiation poisoning.

The Reynolds family became world famous pacifists and peace activists. Barbara founded the Peace Resource Center in 1975 and donated much of what now constitutes the largest depository (outside of Japan) of materials related to the atomic bombings.

While in Japan, the family commissioned construction of the Phoenix of Hiroshima and embarked upon a four-year pleasure cruise around the world. In Hawaii, they met Quaker pacifists that were turned back while sailing toward an American nuclear test zone.

The Reynolds family joined the protest by sailing into the forbidden waters in July 1958. The U.S. Coast Guard arrested Earle and the radiation expert’s trial made international news.

They continued with similar nautical protests, including the 1961 incident with the Russians. Also, they delivered medical supplies to North Vietnam in 1967.

While Reynolds-Renshaw’s story depicts activities that occurred some 50 years ago, intrigue surrounding the Phoenix continues.

The 50-foot, double-end ketch changed ownership over the ensuing decades and, in 2007, appeared for $1 in an ad on Craigslist. A California man planned to restore the sailboat, but the vessel that, earlier this year, was reported missing and thought to have sunk in a California river.

Missing for months, the Phoenix of Hiroshima was discovered late this summer at the bottom of the Mokelumne River near Stockton.

Jessica and other family members are collecting funds in a “Raise the Phoenix” recovery effort with a desire to restore it and possibly donate the historic sailboat to the Peace Resource Center.

Boland said it’s a “long-shot” the historic sailboat would end up at Wilmington College, but concedes that the possibility exists given the Phoenix’s already incredible journey over the past six decades.