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Robert Sherwood: War is essentially a false, hideous mistake

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Robert Sherwood
From review of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

In a hundred or so years there will be no one left in the world who can give a first-hand account of the great war – no one who can say, “I was there; I saw it as it was” – and people will have to get their knowledge of it from books and plays that it inspired. The vast maelstrom which has flowed since the machine guns and the typewriters first started clicking in 1914 will remain, in a greater or less degree, throughout all time, and by them will we and our actions be measured.

It is quite important, therefore, that we get the record straight, and make sure that nothing goes down to posterity which will mislead future generations into believing that this age of ours was anything to brag about. Imagine the history that some H.G. Wells of the Thirtieth Century would write concerning the world war, basing his conclusions on such books as “From Baseball to Boches,” such plays as “Mother’s Liberty Bonds,” or such songs as “Hello, General Pershing, Is My Daddie Safe To-night?” It might be entertaining reading, but hardly instructive.

Rather let us hope this future Wells would depend upon the books of Philip Gibbs and Henri Barbusse, and the poems of Rupert Brooke, Alan Seeger and John MacRae. And if, after reading these, he is still doubtful of the fact war is essentially a false, hideous mistake, then let them see the production of “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” and be convinced.

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