Linus Pauling and the International Peace Movement Narrative  
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A Lonely Crusade: Peacework in the 1980s
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In 1981, while on a trip to China, Ava Helen fell ill; before the year was over, she died of stomach cancer. Gone was Linus's beloved wife of over fifty-eight years, his "constant and courageous companion and coworker." It was a blow from which Pauling, who lived an additional thirteen years, would never fully recover. Increasingly he sought solace in the solitude of his Big Sur ranch and in the web of calculations that informed his scientific research. As he noted in an interview nine years after her death, "since my wife died...I don't have anything to do now, except make discoveries and write papers." But through it all Pauling refused to give up his political activism entirely.

Shortly after Ava Helen died, Linus once again hit the road, delivering a steady stream of speeches on peace and world affairs, endorsing a nuclear-freeze campaign, and decrying the senseless militarism of a new president -- the actor he had once, long ago, discussed politics with at the Brown Derby, Ronald Reagan. Pauling decried Reagan’s "senseless militarism" and the scientific folly of his attempts to erect an anti-missile shield against nuclear attack, a program that the press dubbed "Star Wars." In 1984 he traveled by sea with fellow Nobel Laureate George Wald aboard a "Peace Ship" on a humanitarian mission to Nicaragua. In 1986 he spoke in Hiroshima on the anniversary of the atomic bombing that had so galvanized him forty-one years earlier. In hundreds of public appearances throughout the 1980s he made good on his promise, first issued in 1947, to "include mention of world peace in every lecture and address that I give."

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Video Clip  Video: A Crucial Time. 1984. (0:44) Transcript and More Information

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See Also: "Ava Pauling, 77, wife of scientist." December 8, 1981. 
See Also: "Unilateral actions for world peace." October 19, 1982. 
See Also: "A Journey to Nicaragua." September 1984. 
See Also: "We Have Already Taken A Great Step Toward the Goal of World Peace." November 18, 1986. 
See Also: "Dr. Pauling's Statement re: Star Wars (SDI)." 1980s. 

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Picture
Linus Pauling speaking at a Greenpeace press conference commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Limited Test Ban Treaty. June 10, 1983.


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Notes re: rhetoric of Ronald Reagan. January 26, 1984.

"Most scientists had stopped. I could understand that. I could understand why some thought it was just too much of a sacrifice. They knew they could lose their jobs. They might not be able to continue their scientific work. I felt the same way, but I kept on in order to retain the respect of my wife."

Linus Pauling
June 2, 1985
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