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Christopher Dodd: a worldview shaped by his father and fatherhood.

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Upon his father's return, Christopher became what his family called "his shadow," following him everywhere he went. Throughout the years, he also became a student of his father's thinking.

"I wish I could tell you how many times I heard my father tell the six of us at the dining-room table, had there been an international criminal court in the 1920s, maybe, just maybe the horrors of the Holocaust of the 1930s and '40s might have been avoided," he told an overflow crowd at a Des Moines synagogue earlier this month.

Family conversations usually focused on current events, Dodd says, although the lessons of Nuremberg and World War II were central to the way his father explained them. So, too, was his Catholic faith, according to Dodd's older sister Martha Buonanno.

"My parents were active churchgoers. They really practiced their religion," says Ms. Buonanno. "Social justice issues were very important to them. You can't grow up listening to that stuff without assimilating it."

Indeed, Dodd says his passion for the law, social justice, and working for the common good comes from the way he was raised. They help form what he calls his "DNA" and have also prompted his run for the presidency.

"I thought about how my father would react [to the Guantánamo detention camp and Abu Ghraib and secret prisons,]" he writes in "Letters From Nuremberg." "I felt I had to press the fight further."

A peace corps 'epiphany'

After graduating from a Jesuit prep school outside Washington, Dodd went on to Providence College in Rhode Island, a Catholic school run by Dominican friars. From there, he went on to serve two years in the Peace Corps in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. He helped build a school, a maternity clinic, and a youth organization. He also urged everyone he could to get an education, according to Domingo Tejada. He was a teenager "going nowhere" when Dodd came to his small village and lived with his family.

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