War with the Newts
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War with the Newts

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  3,278 ratings  ·  218 reviews
The visionary Czech writer Karel Čapek (1890-1938), one of the century's great authors, first gained fame during the 1920s & '30s when his short stories, novels, satires, journalism, children's books & plays made him the most important writer in his native country. War with the Newts, one of the great dystopian satires of the century, is about the discovery by a Du...more
Published November 25th 1985 by Unicorn/Unwin Publications (first published 1935)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nancy
A Dutch captain discovers giant talking newts on a remote island and teaches them to use tools, fight off predators, and collect pearls for him. They are eventually exploited by international corporations and the newts challenge man's place at the top of the animal kingdom.

Capek covers a multitude of issues and subjects in this wonderful satire -- capitalism, militarism, racism, and even Hollywood. A great read!
Pavel
One of the most enjoyable books I ever read, and definitely only one distopia I really ever liked.

Main concept of this book was repeated many many times after, for example in Starship Troopers. Goverment finds a public enemy, moves it ahead, unleashes society and mass-media on it, eventually organizes a war against it...Heroes, tragedies, war crimes.. for what? Newts!
(well we could find examples of this not only in literature, won't we).

BUT, as oppossed to We or 1984 this book is INCREDIBLY fun...more
Tyler Jones
1985 was the worst year of my life. The previous summer our family had moved from Calgary to Saskatoon and I had left behind a group of very close friends. I had just graduated high school and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I did know that I would rather go to school than get a job, so for perhaps the first time in my life I really applied myself academically in a last ditch effort to get accepted into University. I pulled off a 99% in a summer school Chemistry class, which must...more
Sokolik
Svět po první světové válce propadl iluzi, že udělal vše pro to, aby se už podobné hrůzy neopakovaly. Avšak ve třicátých letech se stále více ukazovalo, jak byly tyto představy naivní. Svět naplno prožívá hospodářskou krizi, a mnoho lidí hledá podporu v extremistickych hnutích, jak by se daly nazvat všechny ty ...ismy na vzestupu. A právě takové společnosti nastavuje ve svém románu Válka s mloky Karel Čapek zrcadlo. Nabízí světu nový způsob, jak se vymanit z krize, zlepšit blahobyt všech. Avšak...more
Ryan
Apr 09, 2007 Ryan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
Shelves: done-reading
Synopsis: Kapek wrote in the post-WW1 era. In the book, a sea captain finds a bay that harbors giant newts, about the size of a ten year old human, complete with digits and all. The newts are intelligent, and he trains them to capture pearls for him. Eventually, a company forms that sends the Newts to all parts of the world for slave labor. Because of their intelligence (about equal to humans) and the training and supplies given them by man, the Newts spread all over the world (they get up to 70...more
Robert
A brilliant book. This book is one of the high peaks between Swift and Twain and later broad scale social critics in fiction such as Kurt Vonnegut. Published in 1936 it takes it chops up a broad sample of contemporary politics, culture and values. Most of what it has to say about mankind and its collective arrogance holds up today with astounding clarity. This book has not dated at all in any significant way.

The book is about the discovery of an intelligent species of water dwelling beings appa...more
Jan-Maat
Jul 24, 2011 Jan-Maat added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy and science-fiction fans, the oppressed and downtrodden and newts everywhere
Great fun.

The story of mankind's downfall and destruction as caused by human hubris.

The tensions and ambitions of Imperialist Europe find new expression once a species of super-newt is discovered. This is expressed in Oswald Spengler style musings and a reimaging of the super-newts as having the characteristics of the empires that employ them. To the surprise of all the newts eventually turn against the humans, but in a nice touch they hire human lawyers to represent their interests at the peac...more
Juan Hidalgo
Este libro ha resultado una de las mayores decepciones en mis lecturas de los últimos meses. Con un principio genial, prometía una historia de grandes y originales aventuras, más aún cuando, comenzado ya el libro, descubrí que su autor, Karel Čapek, fue quien acuñó el término "robot" en una obra de teatro de 1922.
A pesar de esas expectativas, el relato toma pronto un carácter "enciclopédico", en el que el autor se limita a reseñar supuestos artículos periodísticos, congresos científicos, anuario...more
L Fleisig
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lorenzo Berardi
VÁLKA S MLOKY: A RECIPE

It may not be a conventional Czech or Slovakian speciality, but a válka s mloky is an excellent and tasty alternative to the unbearable lightness of being when a metamorphosis into an engineer of the human souls is too loud a solitude.

Preparation time: 1936-1937
Cooking time: approximately 3 days

You will need:
- An aquarium
- An atlas reporting the pre World War II borders
- Around 100 newts of both genders
- Sea salt
- Lemon
- Mayonnaise
- Biscuits in crumbs
- Granny Smith apples...more
Leslie
A strange mixture of satire, science fiction and cautionary tale -- an obvious statement about the rise of Nazi Germany, but aside from some old-fashioned language, there were many similarities to today's world. The chapter entitled "Earthquake in Louisiana" was particularly eerie, in light of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The book was slow-going in places but I would recommend it.
Julia
I think the official story that this book was published in 1936 is a clever hoax designed to confuse future historians.
Nils
Ein intensives Buch, das seiner Zeit (1936) weit voraus war: Galt es damals in erster Linie als Kritik am und Warnung vor dem Vormarsch der Nazis, kann man es heute aus unendlich vielen Perspektiven lesen.

Aber erst ein paar Worte zur Handlung: Irgendwann in den 1920er Jahren entdeckt der niederländische Kapitän van Toch eine Bucht in Südostasien, die von überraschend intelligenten, etwa menschengroßen Molchen besiedelt wird. Er findet heraus, dass sie von Haien bedroht werden, und beliefert sie...more
Joerg
Eine bisher unentdeckte Molchart, die von den Menschen im Tausch von Perlen gegen Waffen zum Selbstschutz gegen Haie ausgerüstet wird, schwingt sich durch hohe Fertilität zur neuen dominierenden Gattung auf, die Menschen verstehen es nicht und lassen sich die Welt von den Molchen abkaufen, indem sie anfangs Küstenstriche, später ganze Kontinentalteile von den Molchen abgraben und ins Meer versinken lassen.
Für mich ein Gleichnis auf die Globalisierung - wir, der Westen lagern kleinweise alles, ab...more
Angela
Originally written in 1936, two years before Capek's death and three years before the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, War with the Newts is considered by many to be Capek's greatest book. Working in the "fantastic" satiric tradition of Wells, Orwell, and Vonnegut, Capek chronicles the discovery of a colony of highly intelligent giant salamanders off the coast of an Indonesian island. Capek sardonically details all the reactions of the civilized world - from horror to skepticism, from intellectu...more
Gordon Houghton
Sometimes a book comes out of the blue and whacks you over the head with its brilliance. All I knew about Capek before I read this was that he wrote a play about mechanization and introduced the word 'robot' to the English language. So I was expecting something a little serious, and maybe even worthy, from War With The Newts. Instead, it's a bitingly satirical novel of international politics and human greed which maintains a dry wit and occasionally flippant tone without ever sinking into bitter...more
pinknantucket
"War with the Newts" featured rather a lot less war than I expected, being more an account of the events leading up to the said war than a detailed account of the war itself. I enjoyed it a great deal, though my enthusiasm waned during a long chapter "Along the steps of civilisation" which featured lots of footnotes referencing (fictional) news items. I'm not good at footnotes, especially when they span multiple pages; I find it hard to concentrate on the narrative. (Even though all the footnote...more
Gijs Grob
(view spoiler)

Met zakelijke en scherpe pen geschreven roman in quasi-geschiedkundige stijl, voorzien van afbeeldingen, artikelen, lezingen en pamfletten, waarin ca. de hele mensheid de revue passeert en er van langskrijgt: wetenschappers (Capek heeft biologie gestudeerd, en dat is pre...more
Deanne
Interesting story which starts with the discovery of a type of salamander which innocently comes to the notice of an old ship's captain. The captain sees their value but also seeks to protect them, but the road to he'll is paved with good intentions.
There are parallels to history with the reactions of various nations.
Annika
If you ever want to learn something about how the human mind/society works - read this book.
This book left a deep impression on me - on the one hand because of Mr. Capeks visionary sight (mind the date when he wrote the book when you might read it) and on the other hand by his very profound (and unfoturnately true) charaterization of "civilazition".
There are very detailed reviews on Amazon so I won't repeat what lots of people have written already once. Like Francis Bacon said: "Some books are...more
Ineke
Dit boek bevat zo veel stof om over te praten, dat we niet genoeg tijd hadden in de bibliotheek: twee en een half uur was niet genoeg om alle thema's van dit boek te bespreken. Democratie of totalitarisme; slaven; oorlog of vrede; kapitalisme; wetenschap en nog veel meer. En dat alleen met een verhaal over salamanders. Het werd ook een caleidoscopische roman genoemd. Dit boek kun je vele malen lezen en telkens weer uit een ander gezichtspunt bekijken. Zeer humoristisch en alles wordt door deze h...more
Roberto
¿Qué decir? Pues que se me ha hecho algo pesado por la forma, pero no por el fondo. La historia en sí es buena y tiene (como suelo decir) gancho. También agradezco que el autor no siga el juego de la narrativa al uso: la obra no tiene un personaje clave, la primera parte son anécdotas, la parte central gira en torno a un debate social, político, científico, etc., y la última (ya por fin) es la que parte el bacalao. Como digo, no consigue ilusionarme del todo, pero hay material. Mención especial...more
Gregg Wingo
This is simply a wonderful work of satire that still resounds in our own times. Capek is better known as the co-inventor of the word robot from his science fiction play "R.U.R". Unlike Kafka who wrote in German, Capek wrote in Czech (from which the word robot is derived) and, until Vaclav Havel, he was the most famous playwright of the Czech people and Eastern Europe.

Printed in 1936, "The War with the Newts" is a bitter look at mankind and our treatment of the environment and our fellow human b...more
Stupidusatmaildotcom
Funniest book, evah (yes, including The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - for Adams couldn't resist himself and so the joke finally ran dry).

Though quite possibly the saddest too.

If you could read only one book of fiction in your whole life, this is it.
Wealhtheow
Oct 01, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: think_galactic
Shelves: historical, sci-fi
Between the two World Wars, Čapek wrote a biting satire about modern government and society. Told in a series of vignettes, Čapek takes on racism, colonialism, nationalism, capitalism…Unfortunately, there’s no real plot, every one of the characters are loathsome, and the scenario is so disgusting and dumb as to be ridiculous rather than horrifying.
Larry Piper
Having run out of Sumo DVDs, and whilst awaiting the beginning of baseball season, we've been watching Wooster and Jeeves videos. One of Wooster's buddies is fanatical about newts. When I discovered that Harold Bloom considered this book to be part of the western literature canon (I discovered this thanks, I suppose, to more prodding/nagging by Becca), of course I had to read it.

The concept was rather good, and the beginning promising. I must admit, however, I got tired of the book toward the e...more
David Ranney
Colonel D.W. Bright fully acknowledges the services rendered by the late Captain van Toch. He points out, however, that the captain, whose loss we all regret, did show too much concern for the comfort of the aforementioned newts. (Agreement) It was not necessary, for instance, to provide the news with knives and other equipment of such high quality as the late van Toch did. There was no need, for instance, to give them so much food. There is scope for substantial reductions in the costs associa
...more
George
The person who gave us 'robots'. Well, he coined the word anyway. A heartbreaking dark/fantasy about the inevitability of war, domination, evil. A prophetic vision of the full horror of the 20th century.
Jarvo
A chance recommendation led me to this extremely good read. When someone discovers a race of large, intelligent and above all 'train-able' salamanders, mankind thinks its found a gold mine. The newts willingness to do all kind of dirty work opens up lots of opportunities for new commercial ventures, often of a marine variety. But the worm - or rather newt turns. The novel can be read in the context of the 1930's and there are references to the rise of Hitler and contemporary politics generally....more
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“It suddenly occurred to me that every move on the chessboard is old and has been played by somebody at some time. Maybe our own history has been played out by somebody at some time, and we just move our pieces about in the same moves to strike in the same way as people have always done.” 6 likes
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