‘War taught us what War is. Most people did not know; we thought it was
splendid courage, which it was, the defense of national honor, and a struggle
for Freedom. That the war was also the most hideous, dirty, and agonizing
experience of mankind, humanity did not know. If, in 1914, the German people
had known, a German public opinion would not have permitted its Government to
set the world on fire.
So, the first step to prevent War is for everybody to acquire an opinion
about War. Instruction can come through reading — hard reading. Here in America
we’d better begin right off to read certain grimly informing books… There
are dozens of them. We might start in with Will Irwin’s “The Next War”,
Barbusse’s "Under Fire”, Philip Gibbs’s “Now It Can Be Told”
and his novel “The Middle of the Road”, Boyd’s ”Through the
Wheat“, Cobb’s ”The Paths of Glory“ and, of course, everything
Herbert Adams Gibbons has to say.
War books make us cringe. They are horrid.
War is horrid. It is sublime spiritual endurance, but it is also dirt, and
stink, and madness, and agony — and graves. We are "tired of war
books”? Well, our soldiers were “tired” of being killed — but
they kept on being killed. Surely we can do as much for their precious memory
as to read how they lived and died? Such reading will light in our hearts a
flaming determination that there shall be no more unnecessary killing! Out of
every ten persons who read these books, probably six will say: “Stop the
Stupidity: Stop futile dying! Stop War!”.
Public Opinion, is the only thing that can
ever really stop War. Public opinion can move mountains.’
After WW1, Margaret Deland,