babyhippoface's Reviews > Why War Is Never a Good Idea

Why War Is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker
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did not like it
bookshelves: all-ages, duds, social-studies
Recommended for: no one

With lines like “You could die While Choking & Holding Your Nose,” this book gets my vote for "Picture Book Most Likely to Give Your Kid Nightmares."

I didn't like this book. At all. It felt like a piece of political propaganda disguised as a children's book. It looks like a picture book, but it reads like a depressing poem written by that the weird guy in my college poetry workshop who wore a skull t-shirt and army jacket and wrote about death and public urination. The guy whose poems made me wonder why he couldn't write one single poem without profanity. (Was his constant use of offensive language supposed to impress us all with how "deep" he was? Mostly, it made me wonder, "Can't you find INTELLIGENT words to express yourself?")

Perhaps it's the timing of this book's release that makes it so offensive to me. Were we not in the midst of a controversial war, perhaps I would not have resented it so much. But we are, and I do. Not so much for what it contains, but for what is omitted: where is the cruel injustice that so often leads to war? Where is the joyful freedom of those liberated by war? Where is the mother hiding her child in a closet for fear her own countrymen would steal him away only to leave his bullet-riddled body in a mass grave with dozens of others just like him?

In a perfect world, this book's message would ring true. But in our world, it doesn't. The ugly truth is that war is sometimes necessary. If I could convince myself that Walker's message is only about the damaging effect of war on nature, perhaps I could stomach it. But I don't believe that's her sole focus. Yes, war harms our landscape. But sometimes it halts the cruelty, torture, and terror of human beings. And that's the trump card for me. Nature rebounds and rebuilds. Stolen lives do not.

That's why I say, don't buy this book. I guess you could buy it for your local pacifist, but definitely not for kids or anybody you're fond of. Unless you're trying to give them bad dreams. Or indoctrinate them... which, now that I think of it, sounds completely like the intended purpose.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 15, 2008 – Shelved
March 15, 2008 – Shelved as: all-ages
March 15, 2008 – Shelved as: duds
March 15, 2008 – Finished Reading
September 20, 2012 – Shelved as: social-studies

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