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The War Prayerby Mark Twain
In a church, young men are being gathered together prior to being shepherded off to their red, white, and blue deaths. To die for God and country! Those assembled laud this as no better fate, especially when accompanied by the slaughter of their faraway (and certainly less than human and likely heathen) enemies. But then a stranger walks in and suggests to them that praying for murder may not be such a good thing after all. Sadly, that prayer is far too common, as Twain makes clear with gravity and brevity. Somehow, it is still shocking, and still true. If Twain were alive today and published this in a newspaper, The War Prayer would easily mark him as a freedom-hating terrorist.
Synopses & Reviews
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 also praying for the destruction of the enemy... for the destruction of human life.
Originally rejected for publication in 1905 as "not quite suited to a woman's magazine," this antiwar parable remained unpublished until 1923, when Twain's literary executor collected it in the volume Europe and Elsewhere. Handsomely illustrated by the artist and war correspondent Philip Groth, The War Prayer remains a relevant classic by an American icon.
About the Author
Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Often called America's greatest satirist, he is best known for his novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper,and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.Born in 1835, Twain died in 1910.
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