When War Becomes Personal

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If it seems to fall to the historian to make distinctions among wars, each war's larger means and ends, the trajectory for the artist, regardless of culture or time, seems to fall towards an individual's disillusionment, the means and ends of war played out in the personal. For the individual soldier, the sweeping facts of history are accurately written not in the omniscient, third-person plural, but in the singular first. We live in a culture that values the individual. Our works of art about war mirror this welcome bias.... Aristotle's notion that History accretes, but only Poetry unifies is a notion worth subscribing to. Art grants access to a larger world, allows us to live other lives, allows us to examine the quality and meaning of our own lives. Whose very earliest recollections do not include the request, Tell me a Story? The human race needs stories. We need all the experience we can get.

—from "War, Memory, Imagination," a Prologue by Donald Anderson


Statistically speaking, very few of us will ever experience life and death moments in battle, but these fifteen highly individual essays, which include incisive comment on the carnage at Chickamauga and the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan, will prompt us to ponder mortality, morality, and fate.

—ForeWord Magazine


University of Iowa Press