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War No More
     

War No More

5.0 2
by Cynthia Wachtell
 

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Until now, scholars have portrayed America's antiwar literature as an outgrowth of World War I, manifested in the works of writers such as Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. But in War No More, Cynthia Wachtell corrects the record by tracing the steady and inexorable rise of antiwar writing in American literature from the Civil War to the eve of World War I.

Overview

Until now, scholars have portrayed America's antiwar literature as an outgrowth of World War I, manifested in the works of writers such as Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. But in War No More, Cynthia Wachtell corrects the record by tracing the steady and inexorable rise of antiwar writing in American literature from the Civil War to the eve of World War I.

Beginning with an examination of three very different renderings of the chaotic Battle of Chickamauga -- a diary entry by a northern infantry officer, a poem romanticizing war authored by a young southerner a few months later, and a gruesome story penned by the veteran Ambrose Bierce -- Wachtell traces the gradual shift in the late nineteenth century away from highly idealized depictions of the Civil War. Even as the war was under way, she shows, certain writers -- including Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, John William De Forest, and Nathaniel Hawthorne -- quietly questioned the meaning and morality of the conflict.

As Wachtell demonstrates, antiwar writing made steady gains in public acceptance and popularity in the final years of the nineteenth century and the opening years of the twentieth, especially during the Spanish-American War and the war in the Philippines. While much of the era's war writing continued the long tradition of glorifying battle, works by Bierce, Stephen Crane, Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, William James, and others increasingly presented war as immoral and the modernization and mechanization of combat as something to be deeply feared. Wachtell also explores, through the works of Theodore Roosevelt and others, the resistance that the antiwar impulse met.

Drawing upon a wide range of published and unpublished sources, including letters, diaries, essays, poems, short stories, novels, memoirs, speeches, magazine and newspaper articles, and religious tracts, Wachtell makes strikingly clear that pacifism had never been more popular than in the years preceding World War I. War No More concludes by charting the development of antiwar literature from World War I to the present, thus offering the first comprehensive overview of one hundred and fifty years of American antiwar writing.

LSU Press

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Wachtell (American literature, Yeshiva Univ.) examines the rise of American antiwar literature between the Civil War, when Southern writing was in the grip of Sir Walter Scott's example, and World War I. To demonstrate the diversity of responses to war, she includes an early chapter on three reactions to the bloody Civil War battle of Chickamauga: the grisly, unpublished journal of Union Capt. Allen Fahnestock; a romantic story by Texas teenager Mollie E. Moore, and, finally, the ultra-bloody story by Union veteran Ambrose Bierce. She goes on to explore other writers on later conflicts, including the Spanish-American War, which prompted Mark Twain to write his savagely antiwar "A War Prayer." Wachtell musters a stunning wealth of evidence from writers both known and relatively unknown, from Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman to Joseph Kirkland and Frank Stockton. Her most impressively persuasive chapter discusses how the technological advances that made possible the shift from smooth-bore musket to machine gun, in less than half a century, closed down the long-running debate on war as a romantic endeavor and brought a virtual end to romantic war poetry. VERDICT Wachtell's work is an important contribution to American studies, combining a crucial literary and historical perspective. Highly recommended for all interested readers.—Charles C. Nash, Nevada, MO

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807135624
Publisher:
Louisiana State University Press
Publication date:
05/24/2010
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Cynthia Wachtell is a research associate professor of American Studies and Director of the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program at Yeshiva University in New York City.

LSU Press

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War No More 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
UES-Civil-War-fan More than 1 year ago
This is a great book! I never knew that Whitman was so conflicted about the Civil War. I also really enjoyed the chapters in the second half of the book, which explained the way in which the mechanization of warfare in the late 19th century changed the ways authors were writing about war. I recommend this book to to both scholars and non-scholars alike. It is a riveting book. Wachtell's writing is wonderful and very clear.