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A Century of Peace Making: An Annotated Bibliography: Literary Works

In times of war: An anthology of war and peace in children's literature

Fox, C., Leysen, A., & Koenders, I. (2000). In times of war: An anthology of war and peace in children's literature. London: Pavilion.

“Dear Anne / What you write is true / Adults just haven‟t got a clue / They drop bombs / steal a country / Pollute the air / the sea and the beach / Drive too fast / and drink too much / They split up / or pretend / But I have this wonderful vision / One day we‟ll do things differently!” Theo Olthuis

In Times of War collects novels, graphic novels, stories, picture books, and poems in English and in translations of Belgian/Dutch and Portuguese texts. Time and geography range from World War I, World War II, the Gulf War to Georgia, Warsaw, Croatia, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Kazakhstan, Mozambique, Iraq, and Northern Ireland. The central subject matter is war and peace in children‟s literature. These writings portray play, dreams and reality, remembering and forgetting, escape, survival and rescue, Shoah, hiding, and the ambiguous topic of friend or foe. The writings appeal to young people of different ages and reading experiences as well as to general readers. These writings serve as a powerful reminder of the horrors of war, the lessons of history, and reveal the longing for peace.

Poets against the war

Hamill, S., & Anderson, S. (Eds.). (2003). Poets against the war. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books.

“Snow so fluffy and soft / I like to run and jump into it / It leads to peace and love / Snow stops war / and fights / that lead to killing / So snow come today.” Alexandra Indira Sanyal

Poets Against the War is selected from poems submitted to Sam Hamill‟s the Poets Against the War website ( as a response to his call to friends and fellow poets in response to the U.S. launch of the war in Iraq. His idea was to “reconstitute a Poets Against the War movement like the one organized to speak out against the war in Vietnam” and to “speak up for the conscience of our country.” 13,000 poems were submitted by nearly 11,000 poets across the nation. This anthology honors the role of poetry in national crisis, affirms the role of the poet in their act of questioning, and honors the voices of veteran activist poets such as Adrienne Rich, W. S. Mervin, Robert Bly, Hayden Carruth as well as contemporary and some unknown American poets from all walks of life.

Voices in wartime anthology: A collection of narratives and poems

Himes, A., & Bultman, J. with others (Eds.). (2005). Voices in wartime anthology: A collection of narratives and poems. Seattle, WA: Whit Press Inc.

“In the end, we will move beyond war only when we learn how to heal that trauma, and then how to imagine alternatives to war.”

Voices in Wartime Anthology is based on Himes‟s film, Voices in Wartime, which was made as a response to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. The narratives and poems are from poets, soldiers, war correspondents, psychologists, teachers, and historians who have experienced war firsthand. The anthology reflects the perspectives of these writers on war, its myth and euphoria, death worship and human nature. Through the power of story-telling and poems, human emotions are given expressions: fear, sorrow, suffering, trauma, and the need for healing and for the transmutation of pain into understanding, of hatred into compassion. The individual voices affirm Andrew Himes‟s belief in poetry as a tool for healing, as “the tool of alchemy best able to contain the contradiction of the experience of war – the terrible beauty, the pity, the heightened struggle between life and death.”

The fifth book of peace

Kingston, M. H. (2003). The fifth book of peace. New York: Vintage Books.

“I understand if I could make one person – myself – peaceful, and somehow all of existence will change.”

The Fifth Book of Peace combines “true story,” non-fiction, and a re-created fiction into one powerful volume. Kingston weaves together stories of the author running through the Oakland-Berkeley hills fire, the history of China‟s three lost Books of Peace and her quests for them, a re-creation of her burned book – a fourth book of peace -- and a fiction set in Hawaii during the War in Vietnam, and a nonfiction chronicling the lives of the author and her husband in temporary homes waiting for their new house to be built, and there her call to war veterans to help write a literature of peace. Inquisitive, investigative, narrative, and descriptive, Kingston‟s book penetrates the long and sometimes lost memory of history, presents poignant depiction of contemporary U.S., China, Hong Kong, war-time Hawaii, introduces Chinese classics, historical figures, as well as contemporary East Asian Studies scholars, Vietnamese peace-maker Thich Nhat Hanh, and everyday people in her search for the three lost Books of Peace. The book reverberates with her questions and her faith in peace: “When a bone camp up Peace, what efforts did they make toward peace? When it came up War, did they attack peremptorily, or did they take time to think and plan?”

Dien cai dau

Komunyakaa, Y. (1988). Dien cai dau. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.

“I turn / this way – the stones let me go / I turn that way -- I‟m inside / the Vietnam War Memorial / again, depending on the light / to make a difference / I go down the 58,022 names / half-expecting to find / my own in letters like smoke … / A white vet‟s image floats / closer to me, then his pale eyes / look through mine…/ In the black mirror / a woman‟s trying to erase names / No, she‟s brushing a boy‟s hair.”

Dien Cai Dau offers the forty-three poems that center on the war in Vietnam, evoking the immediacy of combat and the battleground, and the horrors of experience and memory stained by the war. The collection opens with “Camouflaging the Chimera,” a poem that paints the battle scene with concrete images and deep emotional power: “We tied branches to our helmets / We painted our faces & rifles / with mud from a riverbank / … We hugged bamboo & leaned / against a breeze off the river / slow-dragging with ghosts / from Saigon to Bangkok … / We aimed at dark-hearted songbirds….” Then the reader goes through the journey of the war with poems that delve deeper and deeper into the experience of war and loss: “The Dead at Quang,” “One More Loss to Count,” “Jungle Surrender,” To Have Danced with Death,” “Dui Boi, Dust of Life,” and “Missing in Action.” The ending poem, Facing It,” is surreal, real, and nightmarish when light, images, and memory play together in the mind of the speaker, rendering memory alive and loss permanent.

The things they carried: a work of fiction

O'Brien, T. (1990). The things they carried: a work of fiction. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

“As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.”

The Things They Carried presents a book of connected stories that center around a platoon of soldiers in Vietnam, who carry with them letters, photographs, can openers, pocket knives, weapons, and other things. The narrator says, “The things they carried were largely determined by necessity”, by rank and field specialty, and by mission. They carry with them memories, fear, cowardice, shame, love, grief, loneliness, lost innocence, and longing. With the things they carry, they are engaged in combat, killing, being killed, or trying to stay alive. Threading back and forth between the war and life of these characters before and after the war, the novel tells stories larger than the war. In meditative and luminous passages throughout the novel, the author meditates on the redemptive power of story-telling, memory, and imagination. Stories can save life, he believes, miracles happen in stories, and we need miracles. The author/writer/survivor of the war lives to tell the tale, saving his own life and making the dead alive.

Walden and civil disobedience

Thoreau, H. D. (1983). Walden and civil disobedience. New York: Penguin Books.

"Most of the luxuries, and many of the so called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind."

Walden, first published in 1854, is a work that is at once an autobiography, a text on self sufficient living, a cataloging of observations of the natural world, and a critique on the excess and furious pace of modern society. Written over a year long period spent near Walden Pond, on piece of land that was owned by his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau chose to separate himself from the people and trappings of the modern world in a life experiment with simplicity, subsisting on a meager vegetarian diet, in a meager self-made home, working only to sustain his life, which provided ample time for him to read and contemplate in solitude and to observe and commune with nature in its yearly cycle. Thoreau moves beyond mere ideological opining by using his own life to experiment in living simply, and in effect getting to a kernel of existence that avoids meaningless and destructive externalities. Civil Disobedience, an essay that was deeply inspiring to leaders of nonviolent movements to follow in the 20th century, makes the case that when
confronted with state mandated laws in opposition to one's conscience, one is morally obligated to resist the law. To continue in one's participation in and allegiance to governments, states, or other temporal authorities that enforce morally repugnant laws, as is the case with paying taxes that contribute to systematic slavery or war, is to support these laws through acquiescence.

An energy field more intense than war: The nonviolent tradition and American literature

True, Michael. (1995). An energy field more intense than war: The nonviolent tradition and American literature. Syracuse: NY: Syracuse University Press.

“In an imperial country, the literature of postmodernism argues that struggles for justice and peace never end – they must merely be taken by again and again by successive generations.”

An Energy Field More Intense Than War offers a historical study of the nonviolent tradition in American literature from the 17th century to the post 1990s. It draws from a wide-range of sources including pamphlets, memoirs, poems, stories, essays, and novel excerpts. This study places the literary author‟s active response to violence and war within the broad background of American history and politics and presents multifaceted responses as well as the authors‟ vision for peace through the examination of images, language, tone, and subjects as well as the personal, literary, and historical contexts. Literary works are grouped into thematic and historical outlines covering The Peaceful Kingdom, 1607-1776, Passive Resistance, 1776-1865, Labor Agitation and Religious Dissent, 1865-1914, Draft Resistance and the Labor Movement, 1914-1940, Conscientious Objection and Civil Rights, 1940-1965, War Resistance, Nuclear Disarmament, and Anti-imperialism, 1965-1900, Against Forgetting, 1990 and After. True‟s book is elegantly written, closely analyzed, thorough, and well-structured. It testifies to the challenges and necessity of nonviolence and peace throughout history.

Here, bullet

Turner, B. (2005). Here, bullet. Farmington, ME: Alice James Books.

"...because, here, Bullet / here is where the world ends, every time."

Here, Bullet artfully and intricately weaves the realities and brutalities of the present war in Iraq with evocations of an ancient history, rivers, the people, places, the land, birds and flowers, and the sky that are part of Iraq‟s history, its fabric of life. “Hwy 1” – the ancient road of trade and commerce between the Middle East and the Orient -- is now “the Highway of Death / with an untold number of ghosts / wandering the road at night, searching / for the way home, to Najaf, Kirkuk, Mosul and Kanni al Saad.” “What Every Soldier Should Know” tells the blindness and inevitability of force, with lines beginning “If you hear gunfire on a Thursday afternoon / if could be for a wedding, or it could be for you” and leading to the end, “and anyone of them / may dance over your body tomorrow.” Through precise imagery and lyrical power, Here, Bullet delivers rage, the cold brutality of war, and the tragic inevitable for the individual and the world, each and every time when soldiers apply “adrenaline rush” to “the barrel‟s cold esophagus.”


Wiesel, E. (2006). Night. New York: Hill and Wang.

"I did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep. But I was out of tears."

Night is Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel's fictional autobiographical account of the Holocaust. Eliezer, the protagonist, is a Romanian child who witnesses the Jewish people of his town, including his family, unsuspectingly readies and eventually taken to Auschwitz and later Buchenwald; concentration camps set up by the Nazis for the miserable labor and mass extermination of the Jews. Through the eyes of a child, the reader experiences the truly horrific evils that were perpetrated during one of the darkest periods of history in
the last century. Humanity in this story is extinguished as Eliezer's story unfolds, portraying torture, rampant murder, and death from starvation and exhaustion. Throughout the story, foundations of faith in God are shaken, the identity of the Jews as sentient beings is stripped bare, and human interactions, even with family members, become matters of survival, as life and death are in the hands of desensitized men capable of monstrous acts. Even after the allies free the inmates from their bondage, the reader joins Eliezer in looking at himself in a mirror for the first time since being unwittingly rounded up in his hometown, and the indelible effect of the experience on him is clear. The capability of humans to commit acts of atrocious violence must never be taken for granted.