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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire : Anti-Imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War (Syracuse Studies on Peace and Conflict Resolution)

Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire : Anti-Imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War (Syracuse Studies on Peace and Conflict Resolution)

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Mark Twain

The first major collection of Mark Twain's antiwar writings, including six previously unpublished essays. Although not a pacifist, Twain was the most prominent opponent of the Philippine-American War and served as vice president of the Anti-Imperial … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Mark Twain
Publisher: Syracuse University Press
1 review about Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire : Anti-Imperialist...

Most of us never saw this Twain

  • Nov 13, 2001
Rating:
+5
This book transformed my opinion of Mark Twain -- from the classic, if somewhat shopworn, American humorist we're all forced to read in junior high, into a passionate defender of American ideals. Today, as words like 'war,' 'treason,' and 'patriotism' are once again in the headlines, flags are flying, and nationalist feeling runs high, these essays by Twain, and commentary by Jim Zwick, are as important and timely as they were nearly a hundred years ago.

Back then, at the birth of the American Empire, Samuel Clemens ('Mark Twain') risked his reputation, his career, and his fortune taking an uncompromising public stand against the war in the Philippines. No pacifist, Twain nevertheless refused to allow jingoists, imperialists, and flag-wavers to define America's proper role in the world. 'I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land,' he wrote.

Twain's anti-war essays had never been collected in one place before this book, and many of the writings here were never published at all. Twain takes the reader's breath away with his bold and uncompromising resistance to empire. 'The War Prayer' (1905) should be required reading in Congress and on talk radio, while 'Roosevelt, the American Gentleman' (1906) should be engraved on TR's tombstone.

And then there's 'patriotism.' In 'Monarchical and Republican Patriotism' (1908), Twain defines the former as the government telling the people what is and is not 'respectable' patriotism. 'In the other, neither the government nor the entire nation is privileged to dictate to any individual what the form of his patriotism shall be.'

He continues: 'We have adopted [monarchical patriotism] with all its servility, with an unimportant change in wording: "Our country, right or wrong!" We have thrown away the most valuable asset we had: the individual's right to oppose both flag and country when he (just *he*, by himself) believed them to be in the wrong. We have thrown it away; and with it, all that was really respectable about that grotesque and laughable word, Patriotism.'

Powerful, bracing stuff -- especially today. Very highly recommended.

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