Home > Uncategorized > Humphrey Cobb: War never settled anything except who was the strongest

Humphrey Cobb: War never settled anything except who was the strongest


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Humphrey Cobb: Selections on war


Humphrey Cobb
From Paths of Glory (1935)

Assolant looked into the binoculars and failed to control the start which Dax had hoped to surprise from him by the sight he had prepared. The telescopic lenses seemed to spring the mass of bodies right into his face. The bodies were so tangled that most of them could not be distinguished one from the other. Hideous, distorted and putrescent, they lay tumbled upon each other or hung in the wire in obscene attitudes, a shocking mound of human flesh, swollen and discolored…


“What about the unborn children?”

“What about them? I wish I was an unborn child this minute…”

“That’s because we’re going to attack tomorrow.”

“D’you think you’re doing anyone a favor by creating them out of nothing for the very doubtful joy of living a life of misery and pain in the world of men, the most savage of the predatory animals?”

“It’s nature’s law. I’ve got nothing to do with it.”

“Take this war,” Langlois continued. “Do you think our parents would have had us if they had foreseen the things they were sentencing us to?”

“Probably. There have always been wars and there always will be. They’re part of life, like disease, storms, death…”

“It takes a fool to make war, if you judge by those who are making this one. The attack they’re pushing us into now, it’s just plain murder. Look at what the Boches did to the Tirailleurs. Anyway, war never settled anything except who was the strongest.”

“Well, that’s something.”

“It’s not enough.”

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