The War Prayer

THE WAR PRAYER…. In 1904, disgusted by the aftermath of the Spanish-American War and the subsequent Philippine-American War, Mark Twain wrote a short anti-war prose poem called “The War Prayer.” His family begged him not to publish it, his friends advised him to bury it, and his publisher rejected it, thinking it too inflammatory for the times. Twain agreed, but instructed that it be published after his death, saying famously:

None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth.

“The War Prayer” was eventually published after World War I, when its message was more in tune with the times. Washington Monthly’s publisher, Markos Kounalakis, who was affected by Twain’s words when he covered the war in Yugoslavia in the early 90s, made “The War Prayer” into a short video for release last Memorial Day, and today we’re reprising it. It features stunning illustrations by Akis Dimitrakopoulos and is narrated by Peter Coyote, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Erik Bauersfeld. You can view it here.

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