HERE are three books on war that are eminently worth reading. They are varied in tone and content but the philosophy behind them all is the same. They are written (respectively) by a famous English whimsicalist, creator of "Winnie the Pooh"; a not so well-known Irish satirist; and a senior at Princeton University who is National Commander of the Veterans of Future Wars. The latter two are extremely witty and amusing, the first is inexorably logical and serious.
Milne examines the popular theories about war and the euphemistic statesmens' apologies for it. In one-two-three-four order he pins them to the ground. How do you know it is "sweet and fitting to die for your country," he asks, "have you ever tried it?" He hits the usually submissive attitude of the churches in war time and inquires why, if they will stand for murder at periodic intervals, they will not stand for adultery as well. His reasoning is pointed and quick and his facts so simple as to be well-nigh incontestable. He offers a plan for peace that might work--if it were ever tried.
Probably as much as can be done on paper along this line he has done. It is strongly conducive to the right way of thinking on the subject of war but of course, as always when you announce that you are out to slay a dragon, there is the question--"How well have you slain it?" A book--a serious book even--is inevitably rather futile in combating such a tremendous problem, because the thing just can't be done so easily Milne's book is the cream of the anti-war arguments thus far in circulation, however, much better than such a thing as Norman Thomas's "War," and should serve some purpose as educational material.
In "Roll On, Next War!" John Gibbons uncovers a wealth of amusing anecdotes and parables relating to his own Great War experience.
He gives advice to his son as to how to get on in the Next War and details a delightful personal chronicle of his military part in the Last One.
Gorin's book is a good introduction to the manual of that new great youth movement, the V. F. W. In concise and unlabored prose Mr. Gorin explains the motives of the organization which he founded and the highly logical methods through which their ends may be achieved. The bonus for the Veterans of Future Wars is payable now, he explains. "There is no sense in going to war, as every true veteran of the last few years will tell you, unless there is some provision for living in idleness at the expense of the government for the rest of your life . . . A quick glance at the records of the Revolutionary War will show any Doubting Thomas that many of the states and the Continental Congress had to guarantee the soldiers a bonus and pension for life before they would engage in the war. And if you are still unconvinced I need only add that George Washington, the father of his country, and Abraham Lincoln, the son, were both advocates of such a policy in the wars that occurred when they were Commanders-in-Chief of the American forces . . ."
"Patriotism Prepaid" contains the Manifesto of the V. F. W. and ten drawings by Albert M. Barbieri, Princeton '38, one of which portrays a familiar field of crosses "row on row" and is suitably labelled "Young America."