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Preview — The War Prayer by Mark Twain
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The War Prayer
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...more
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This "poem", in particular, is still so appropriate over a century after it was written. Both the divisive idea of "us vs. them" and the puzzling notion that religious people would pray for their enemies' deaths are stripped naked and Twain uses his unparalleled satirical skills to do it.
Twain is examining whether God, who is a loving God, would approve of prayers to destroy the opponents in a war. As a preacher is praying "that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid, comfort and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bea ...more
The War Prayer was classic Twain. Slightly sardonic, tongue-in-cheek, while also being insightful, clever and profound. Twain tells of a town whose men are preparing to march to battle. The S ...more
The reason for Twain's hesitation in publishing this work is obvious after reading it. At the time it was written war was considered to be serving a countries pride.
Even after the end of the kings and their empires we still lived (and live?) in a world where war was considered an evil necessity. Countr ...more
I believe I purchased Twain's The War Prayer from an WRL literature offering either in high school (this edition first came out in '68) or during the ...more
Mark Twain looks at the dark side of war, and through a lens that is sure to ruffle some feathers--religion. As a church congregation prays for swift victory in war, and protection for their troops, an angel-mystery man-representative-speaker for God swoops in, and points out the other side of the church's prayer: their call for the death of another nation. Implicit in any victory is the def ...more
During a time of war, as soldiers march to battle, a minister prays for the safety of the troops and victory in their task. After finishing, a man who claims to be from the Throne prays aloud the silent prayer behind the words of the minister. He also tells the congregation that if, after hearing the silent prayer they still want victory in war...
That we may never forget that silent pra ...more
Twain's tone in this is angry, sad, and finally bleak. His view of the situation and most people's thi ...more
The best version of the book is the issue with pencil drawings by John Groth; they add an additional powerful message and impact along with the narrative.
This is the ...more
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:
Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also work ...more