Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thoughts on The Face of War

The Face of War. Uplifting title, huh? It's the title of the book I've been reading lately. It's a collection of articles written by war correspondent, Martha Gelhorn (better known as the third wife of Ernest Hemingway). Martha covered various wars for nearly 50 years, starting with the Spanish Civil War in 1937. She visited the front lines of many, many wars, and was frequently the only woman to do so. She wrote about the people - civilians mainly - caught in the crossfire of wars created by a few men. She wrote about the aftermath of these wars and the affect they had on soldiers and people like you and me. It's a stunning portrayal. Candid. Human. I can't get this book out of my head. Here are a few thoughts from the book:

From The Battle of the Bulge, written January 1945. "On the night of New Year's Day, I thought of a wonderful New Year's resolution for the men who run the world: get to know the people who only live in it."

From The War in Java: "... a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon separates America from all of the people who have known war in their own countries. War, for Americans, is a fact but not a reality; it has not happened here in living memory. The history of the failed peace and the threatening future would be different if a few bombs had fallen on a few American cities during World War II. It is strange that too much safety should prove to be so dangerous." Yes, we had 9/11, which was a type of war. Still, the majority of us can't grasp the devastation and desperation that traditional war brings to people just like us. People who just want to make a living, be with their families, love, and smile. And I hope I never have to grasp that concept. I am very thankful to be an American, and very thankful for the men and women who choose to protect us at all cost. 

From They Talked of Peace, written December 1946. "For in the end, peace is not in the hands of delegates but in the hands of all people everywhere. It is an almost overpowering effort to be just, informed, sane and strong when you are worried about a roof over your head, money for food, for the children's shoes, for coal, for a little fun, worried and harassed by the daily unending problem of living. But it is an effort that must be made, for lasting peace is not going to come of itself, nor cheaply, nor due to someone else."

Marthal Gelhorn was a phenomenal writer and, at least to me, an interesting person. I've have the pleasure of reading one of her travel memoirs, her biography, and some of her letters. I find her to be intelligent, reflective, talented, and human. I am really looking forward to exploring her novels this year.

Now that I've gottent his out of my head, I'm moving on ... right upstairs to my cozy bed.  


  1. I am adding this to my list. So thankful for friends that read. No one here in Colorado seems to be interested in that. :)

  2. The Face of War is great, but a little tough to read at times. My background knowledge on the various wars is lacking. Gelhorn's travel memoir, "Travels With Myself and Another" is beautiful. I'm hoping to get to some of her fiction this year. As always, thanks for reading!