Thomas Riggs


Literature of War

St. James Press, First Edition, 2012
Awards: American Library Association’s 2013 RUSA Award (Outstanding Reference Sources); Booklist Editors' Choice: Reference Sources, 2012


"There is something counterintuitive about 'the literature of war.' How can war, a phenomenon of destruction, give rise to literature, an act of creation? What sort of fiction, poetry, or drama might thrive on mass death, injury, and loss, other than the voyeuristic, the exploitative, or the simply sadistic? Might war writing even perpetuate war, glorify violence, and obscure suffering?

War literature does all of these things. It also warns against pursuing armed conflict, exposes its atrocities, and argues for peace. It records the acts of war with as much accuracy as is possible, and it memorializes the dead. It is voyeuristic, exploitative, and sadistic; it is also tender, selfless, and comforting. It is gleeful and angry; inflammatory and cathartic; propagandist, passionate, and clinical. It is funny and sad."

Kate McLoughlin from the Introduction

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