AIN'T GONNA STUDY WAR NO MORE by Milton Meltzer

AIN'T GONNA STUDY WAR NO MORE

The Story Of America's Peace Seekers
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Meltzer's history of war resistance in the United States is most notable for its forthright condemnation of war--which is not exactly beside the point. He clearly supports the view of early peace groups that "wars are most often fought for profit under the banner of national honor." In this vein he notes how "land-hungry Western warhawks in Congress" pushed through the unpopular war of 1812; and he points up the Mexican War's link with slavery. Similarly, the Spanish-American War of 1898 was fueled by "white racism combined with economic pressure," and World War I, "a war nobody wanted and nobody could stop," stands as an object lesson for today. In Vietnam, "America's most disastrous military adventure," our government deceived its own people and destroyed South Vietnamese society, essentially to avoid political embarrassment. Some wars have been harder to condemn, and Meltzer, having traced the "just war" concept since its fourth-century origin, goes into the Quakers' conflict of conscience during the Civil War and the "terrible moral dilemma" for pacifists posed by World War II. He doesn't presume to answer the question of whether a Hitler could be resisted by nonviolent means, but points to occupied Norway and Denmark as examples of just that. Developed in counterpoint with his history of the wars, Meltzer's chronicle of conscientious objectors and war-resistance groups sometimes becomes a blur of names and acronyms. We learn too little about too many groups, and are served with judgments that deserve further development. However, this is a limitation endemic to the YA survey; and if Meltzer's readers don't remember many names, they may well respond to some of the many quotes from resisters' writings and speeches. They may also be impressed by the long tradition of resistance, the persecution that conscientious objectors have endured, and the large number of today's young men who have ignored draft registration requirements.
Pub Date: April 17th, 1985
ISBN: 0375822607
Page count: 308pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1985




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