It is November 11th, known here in the U.S. as Veteran’s Day, formerly Armistice Day to remember the end of WWI but expanded to honor all veterans who have fought for their country, so …
Do you read war stories? Fictional ones? Histories?
Yes, I read war stories. One of my top five books is actually All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, a WWI semi-autobiographical novel Although, I tend to read more Holocaust fiction/non-fiction than any other war stories–and those are more about the Holocaust than the actual war itself. I didn’t really enjoy We Were Soldiers Once…And Young by Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway, which was a non-fiction account of the Vietnam War. There was just too much military strategy and the like to make it interesting enough for me For this reason, I think I’m more drawn to the fiction or, at least non-military-esque non-fiction.
Now I would just like to include an idea about war, which I found in AQotWF, that I think rings true for many people:
A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our friends. At some table a document is signed by some persons whom none of us knows, and then for years together that very crime on which formerly the world’s condemnation and severest penalty fall, becomes our highest aim. But who can draw such a distinction when he looks at these quiet men with their childlike faces and apostles’ beards. (p105)
And, because I can include it, here is a conversation, also about war, which I really like from AQotWF:
“But what I would like to know,” says Albert, “is whether there would not have been a war if the Kaiser had said No.” “I’m sure there would,” I interject, “he was against it from the first.”
“Well, if not him alone, then perhaps if twenty or thirty people in the world had said No.”
“That’s probable,” I agree, “but they damned well said Yes.”
“It’s queer, when one thinks about it,” goes on Kropp, “we are here to protect our fatherland. And the French are over there to protect their fatherland. Now who’s in the right?” “Perhaps both,” say I without believing it. “Yes, well now,” pursues Albert, and I see that he means to drive me into a corner, “but our professors and parsons and newspapers say that we are the only ones that are right, and let’s hope so;–but the French professors and parsons and newspapers say that the right is on their side, now what about that?”
“That I don’t know,” I say, “but whichever way it is there’s war all the same and every month more countries coming in.”
Tjaden reappears. He is still quite excited and again joins the conversation, wondering just how a war gets started.
“Mostly by one country badly offending another,” answers Albert with a slight air of superiority.
Then Tjaden pretends to be obtuse. “A country? I don’t follow. A mountain in Germany cannot offend a mountain in France. Or a river, or a wood, or a field of wheat.”
“Are you really as stupid as that, or are you just pulling my leg?” growls Kropp, “I don’t mean that at all. One people offends the other–”
“Then I haven’t any business here at all,” replies Tjaden. “I don’t feel myself offended.” (p.110-111)