Portraits of Peace

Searching for Hope in a Divided America

Portraits of Peace

Searching for Hope in a Divided America

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Frustrated with an increasingly polarized social landscape, award-winning photographer John Noltner set out on a 40,000-mile road trip across the United States to rediscover the common humanity that connects us. He did so by asking people one simple question: "What does peace mean to you?" Through difficult conversations, gentle humor, and a keen eye for beauty, Noltner's Portraits of Peace captures a rich collage of who we are as a nation.

Beautiful storytelling and captivating photography converge to offer a uniquely human and accessible examination of the social issues that most challenge us today, such as racial equality, immigration reform, LGBTQ+ rights, women's rights, freedom of religion, and tolerance. Through the real-world stories of ordinary citizens who choose, in the midst of difficult circumstances, to pursue healing, reconciliation, and community building, we discover a glimmer of hope that something better is possible.

Portraits of Peace offers a promising road map to a peaceful future as a pluralistic society.

Continue your conversation with the Portraits of Peace Discussion Guide--perfect for church groups, book clubs, and individual study.

For additional portraits and audio from interviews featured in the book, visit the Portraits of Peace Book Illustrations Gallery.


"Getting to know each other's personal stories is one of the best ways to bridge our deep divides and reclaim the power of 'We the People'; this book gives us that chance. Portraits of Peace also gives us a chance to correct the lenses through which we look at others, and get back in touch with our shared humanity."

Parker J. Palmer, author of Healing the Heart of Democracy, Let Your Life Speak, and On the Brink of Everything

"John Noltner artfully weaves his own story and experiences with those of hundreds of people he has encountered or interviewed, and, perhaps most importantly, whose stories he has helped tell. These stories challenge us, expand us, surprise us, and push all of us to become more human."

Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary

"John Noltner knows three things about stories: people have them; people need to be heard; people need to listen. In this latest collection of stories, he comforts and challenges, he shows the fractured stories and the flourishing ones, he shares stories that contract and stories that expand. In this, he is a curator of the thing that might save us: our capacity to tell; our capacity to listen; our capacity to change."

Pádraig Ó Tuama, host of "Poetry Unbound" from On Being, and author of In the Shelter and Borders and Belonging

"Portraits of Peace offers so much hope for our weary hearts. I can't imagine a better book for our fractured time."

Jennifer Louden, author of Why Bother? and The Woman's Comfort Book

"At a time when our world is filled with both kindness and cruelty, Portraits of Peace provides us with a mirror to witness the world as it is, and also a lens to imagine what the world can become."

The Rev. Dr. Brian E. Konkol, Dean of Hendricks Chapel and Professor of Practice, Syracuse University

"John Noltner's art is rich without being extractive; it's morally clear without being preachy. This stems from John himself, who walks through the world with a discerning wide-eyedness and deep compassion."

Barry Yeoman, journalist

"The book skillfully succeeds in constructing a narrative of hope by revealing the lives and faces of those dedicated to breaking the cycle of conflict. John Noltner's work offers a profound awareness of what it means to be human."

Marina Cantacuzino, founder of The Forgiveness Project

"John Noltner's elegant exploration of the many dimensions of peace is balm for the soul, especially in our contentious times. This book inspires all of us to look for the dignity and light in every person we meet."

Rabbi Amy Eilberg, spiritual director, kindness coach, peace and justice educator, and author of From Enemy to Friend: Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace

"Nolter's Portraits of Peace provides a new, life-giving lens. Read its words, rest your eyes on the faces portrayed on its pages, and let it lead your heart on a powerful journey from polarization to peace."

Jacqueline A. Bussie, author of Love Without Limits and Outlaw Christian

"This book is for those who care about people and their stories and those who want to do the work of 'storycatching' themselves."

Howard Zehr, director emeritus of the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice

"Portraits of Peace vividly illustrates the power of personal story, unlocked by a courageous commitment to listen. Each chapter left me asking John Noltner's favorite question: 'Tell me more.' The future of our families, communities, and country depends on pursuing the life-giving path of listening, which begins with inspiration."

Pearce Godwin, founder of the Listen First Project and the #ListenFirst Coalition of 250+ organizations cultivating peace across differences

"John Noltner offers us a gift--a way to listen to others, to honor their humanity, and to stay at the table even when it is difficult. He brings us with him on his journey of discovery and change. This book belongs in every household in our country."

Martha McCoy, executive director of Everyday Democracy and president of the Paul J. Aicher Foundation

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506471211
  • eBook ISBN 9781506471228
  • Dimensions 7.25 x 9.25
  • Pages 201
  • Publication Date September 21, 2021