The following doesn’t really fit under the heading of War Stories, but it’s so great I’m compelled to make it today’s post anyway. I’m copying this piece now from a yellowing, typewriter-pecked page I’ve kept with me for years. If technically it isn’t about war, it’s certainly from a man who wrote masterfully about that subject and who struggled, suffered and bled to fight the internal “war of art.” From Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon: When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. If a writer can make people live there…Read More
Here is one of the most poignant and tragic scenes (at least in its outcome, foretold but unstated here) in all of epic poetry. From Homer’s Iliad, in the Richmond Lattimore translation from the University of Chicago Press, this is the moment on the battlements of Troy, when the Trojans’ great hero Hector has left the fighting momentarily; his wife Andromache comes to speak with him, accompanied by a nurse and their infant son, Astyanax. First Andromache, foreseeing Hector’s death, pleads with him to withdraw from the fighting. “Dearest, your own great strength will be your death, and you have…Read More
The following is from “Israel Journal: June, 1967,” a brilliant first-person account of the Sinai battles of the Six Day War by Yael Dayan, the daughter to Moshe Dayan and an accomplished journalist and novelist in her own right (as well as, later in her career, a member of the Israeli Knesset and Deputy Mayor of Tel-Aviv.) Ms. Dayan was twenty-eight at the time of this writing and a lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces. She accompanied division commander Ariel Sharon (later PM of Israel) as he led his armored forces against the Egyptian army in Sinai. This passage begins…Read More
Xenophon was an Athenian nobleman, warrior and writer from the fourth century B.C. Here’s a story: When Xenophon was a young man, he chanced to enter a narrow lane from one end at the same time that Socrates was entering from the other. It was just the two of them walking toward each other. Though Athens was a big city, its citizens interacted constantly in the Assembly and the agora; it’s a safe bet that the philosopher (who was probably about sixty at the time) recognized the young aristocrat by sight, even if the two had never been formally introduced.…Read More
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