We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now

We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now

5.0 2
by Murray Polner, Thomas E., Jr. Woods

View All Available Formats & Editions

The first-ever anthology of American antiwar writing: from 1812 to the present, covering the entire political spectrum and the complete history of U.S. wars.See more details below


The first-ever anthology of American antiwar writing: from 1812 to the present, covering the entire political spectrum and the complete history of U.S. wars.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

This history of America in anti-war writing, "coedited by a man of the left (Polner) and a man of the right (Woods)," is an insightful, relevant and varied collection that mines a strong tradition of American protest and principle. Covering the War of 1812 through "Iraq and the War on Terror," the editors provide a brief background essay for each before ceding the page to essays, interviews, letters, poems and photos from the past 200 years. Contributors include Daniel Webster, Stephen Crane, Eugene V. Debs, Helen Keller and Howard Zinn, as well as presidents and other government officials, mothers, social justice activists, poets and songwriters. Parallels among wars and the present moment are easy to find, and the many warnings hang heavy, given the ambiguous aftermath of America's conflicts. Eisenhower's 1961 warning against the abuses of "the military-industrial complex" is a standby centerpiece worthy of another look, but much of the material is just as interesting, informative and impassioned. Foregoing any dry lessons, this history-in-protest is a valuable read for study and conversation in advance of the 2008 presidential election, and should be of interest to a wide audience not limited to history buffs, antiwar activists, and those seeking perspective on today's war.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal

History repeats itself, and Polner and Woods (The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History ) remind us that both Leftist dissent against jingoism and Rightist opposition to governments swollen by war run throughout American history. The authors present writings by thinkers and activists, from the War of 1812 to the Iraq War. Daniel Webster thunders against the draft of 1814; Abraham Lincoln denounces President Polk's lies about the war in Mexico as "the half-insane mumbling of a fever dream." Even less controversial wars had opponents; included pieces range from the religious and pacifist writings against the Civil War to a statement from World War II draft-resister David Dellinger. The pieces are arranged chronologically and include moral and legal statements, accounts by activists and veterans, and the traditional letters written by mothers. The book would have been even more powerful had it featured writings by minorities and about the wars on American Indians. A five-page list of antiwar films is also included. Recommended for larger public libraries and all college libraries.-Duncan Stewart, Univ. of Iowa Lib., Iowa City

From the Publisher

Texas Observer
“Turns out strange bedfellows are common in the history of American anti-war sentiment, as evidenced in the new anthology We Who Dared to Say No To War…. Together [Polner and Woods have] assembled almost two centuries’ worth of writing condemning American military actions from the War of 1812 to more recent misadventures in the Middle East, while celebrating the fact that the noble cause of peace in this country has often attracted wildly opposing un-likes… Democracy and war, these pieces collectively suggest, may be the strangest, and worst, bedfellows of all.”

“We stopped counting the number of wonderful advocates of peace in this book. It’s like finally finding a kindred group of like minds with whom you can feel at home…. This is an anthology well worth the read. It might also help you feel that peace is a battle worth waging, so to speak.”

“Read it and weep … and cheer. Weep because we’ve been lied into wars in very similar ways for two centuries and have had to discover the deception anew each time. Cheer because some people have been there to denounce the lies on the spot every time, and their ranks have steadily grown.”

Library Journal
“History repeats itself, and Polner and Woods remind us that both Leftist dissent against jingoism and Rightist opposition to governments swollen by war run throughout American history.”

“Representing both sides of the ideological divide, editors Polner and Woods have collected a vast and varied array of speeches, essays, letters, poetry, even popular song lyrics, from our country’s greatest leaders and civilians to illustrate the indelible and instinctive response war-mongering and war evoke…. With current antiwar rhetoric…running at a fevered pitch, such historical documentation demonstrates, sadly, that it is also running true to course.”

Scott McConnell, editor of The American Conservative
“You don’t have to oppose all American wars to appreciate Tom Woods and Murray Polner’s masterful anthology. These essays vividly demonstrate why ‘dissent is patriotic’ is no mere peacenik slogan.”

Bob Keeler, Newsday Editorial Board
“Standing up to the rhetoric of war is never easy. We Who Dared to Say No to War provides today’s private-citizen peacemakers and public officials with the valuable assurance that others have spoken prophetically against wars for most of our nation’s history. Polner and Woods deserve our deep gratitude for assembling these brave speeches from wars past.”

Rick Shenkman, Author of Just How Stupid Are We?
“While it is the warmakers who usually garner public attention, Polner and Woods remind us that the peacemakers often have had more to say. For it is they who speak to our conscience. In times like these, it is reassuring to know that our history is filled with people who questioned war and asked: why?”

WIN Magazine
"Polner and Woods have pored through diaries, speeches, and newspapers and dug into old archives to bring together 70 impassioned, learned, and probing rejections of war as a means of solving problems, ending violence, and bringing peace and democracy."

"We Who Dared To Say No To War reminds us that our anti-war streak is a lot wider, deeper and more all-American than today's flag-waving proponents of the Iraq war think."

History News Network
“Editors Murray Polner and Thomas E. Woods, Jr. remind us that those opposed to President George W. Bush’s adventure in Iraq are part of an antiwar tradition in American history well established before it was rediscovered by the Vietnam generation.”

The American Catholic
“This is a book that deserves to be widely used in American History classes from high school to university. It should help students – and the rest of us – reflect on the history of our country with a better grasp of those times when it betrayed its highest values by choosing violence. From Daniel Webster’s protest against the draft for the war of 1812 to Camillo Bica’s open letter to fellow veterans of the war in Iraq, it raises the right questions about how the U.S. should try to solve its deepest problems.”

Read More

Product Details

Basic Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
3 MB

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >