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The War Prayer (1905)

de Mark Twain

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Written by Mark Twain during the Philippine-American War in the first decade of the twentieth century, The War Prayer tells of a patriotic church service held to send the town's young men off to war. During the service, a stranger enters and addresses the gathering. He tells the patriotic crowd that their prayers for victory are double-edged-by praying for victory they are also praying for the destruction of the enemy... for the destruction of human life. Originally rejected for publication in 1905 as "not quite suited to a woman's magazine," this antiwar parable remained unpublished until 1923, when Twain's literary executor collected it in the volume Europe and Elsewhere. Handsomely illustrated by the artist and war correspondent Philip Groth, The War Prayer remains a relevant classic by an American icon.… (mais)
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In this very short work, Twain creates a scathing indictment of war, the hawks who rally the masses to their cause, and the people who thoughtlessly let their bloodlust and patriotism intertwine into an engine of destruction. The art is raw and serves the prayer well.

It continues to amaze me, the wonders one can find sitting on a library shelf if you just take a moment to look.

p.s., Reading this book reminded me of a favorite Peanuts strip, reprinted here:
https://www.gocomics.com/peanuts/2016/10/23 ( )
  villemezbrown | Sep 15, 2018 |
Mr. Twain, you need to be training people on the proper use of irony. You also need to be teaching people what true populism looks like - The Donald and The Bern could learn a thing or two. Maybe it would make them less shouty. Anyway, read this. It is still as relevant today as when written. ( )
  Narshkite | Mar 20, 2016 |
Exceedingly short -- and powerful. I think I shall try to read it each and every year. You don't need a hard copy; it is readily available online and will take you only a few minutes to read. ( )
  Sandydog1 | Aug 10, 2013 |
O Lord our God,
help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells

A brief, bitter protest against unjust war. Mark Twain wrote it when his country was engaged in suppressing the Philippines — an ugly episode you won’t find in school textbooks.

It was not published during his lifetime.

The book has had an instructive history. The author’s estate renewed the copyright during the Korean War. The grisly line drawings by John Groth date from 1968, the height of the Vietnam War. This particular edition came out in 1984 as the country flirted with war in Central America.
1 vote Muscogulus | Mar 1, 2013 |
A short, simple, powerful indictment of war and religion, published after Twain’s death at his request. He knew the horror of war, and that even in victory one side would be inflicting unspeakable cruelty on innocents (“…help us wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land…). Unspeakable? Better to speak it, says Twain. Better to recognize it, and avoid it altogether. Amen.

Just this quote, on anti-war sentiment in a time of war:
“It was indeed a glad and gracious time,
and the half-dozen rash spirits
that ventured to disapprove of the war
and cast a doubt upon its righteousness
straightway got such a stern
and angry warning
that for their personal safety’s sake
they quickly shrank out of sight
and offended no more in that way.” ( )
  gbill | Apr 15, 2012 |
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Mark Twainautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Groth, JohnIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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To Dan Beard, who dropped in to see him, Clemens read the "War Prayer," stating that he had read it to his daughter Jean, and others, who had told him he must not print it, for it would be regarded as sacrilege.

"Still, you are going to publish it, are you not?"

Clemens pacing up and down the room in his dressing-gown and slippers, shook his head.

"No," he said, "I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world.

"It can be published after I am dead."
--Mark Twain, A Biography by Albert Bigelow Paine
Harper & Borthers, 1912
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Written by Mark Twain during the Philippine-American War in the first decade of the twentieth century, The War Prayer tells of a patriotic church service held to send the town's young men off to war. During the service, a stranger enters and addresses the gathering. He tells the patriotic crowd that their prayers for victory are double-edged-by praying for victory they are also praying for the destruction of the enemy... for the destruction of human life. Originally rejected for publication in 1905 as "not quite suited to a woman's magazine," this antiwar parable remained unpublished until 1923, when Twain's literary executor collected it in the volume Europe and Elsewhere. Handsomely illustrated by the artist and war correspondent Philip Groth, The War Prayer remains a relevant classic by an American icon.

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