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Publish Date: October 2003
Every War Has Two Losers
William Stafford on Peace and War
BY William Stafford
Born the year World War I began, acclaimed poet William Stafford (1914–1993) spent World War II in a camp for conscientious objectors. Throughout a century of conflict he remained convinced that war simply doesn’t work. By his writings, Stafford showed that it is possible—and crucial—to think independently when fanatics act, and to speak for reconciliation when nations take sides. He believed it to be a failure of imagination to see only two options: to fight or to run away.
This book gathers the evidence of a lifetime’s commitment to nonviolence, including an account of Stafford’s near hanging at the hands of American patriots. In excerpts from his daily journal from 1951 to 1993, Stafford uses questions, alternative views of history, lyric invitations, and direct assessments of our political habits to suggest a way other than war. Many of these statements are published here for the first time, together with a generous selection of Stafford’s pacifist poems and interviews from elusive sources.
“...Reams of relentlessly honest notes about war and peace.”—Portland Magazine
"Stafford offers a lifetime of lyrically posed observations postulated from the perspective of a peacemaker. He pricks the thoughtful and intellectual processes of adult and young adult readers to consider alternate solutions in resolving conflicts.”—Plainfield Sun
“Minneapolis' Milkweed Editions is preparing a manuscript of Stafford's poems on peace and war, due out this fall. Most were published in previous works, but the collection brings a few gems into the glistining light for the first time.”—Sojourner's Magazine
"Published ten years after William Stafford's death, it is a fitting tribute to a lifelong decpacifist and socially responsible American poet. . . . Essentially an intimate and focused study, the book captures many of the author's scribbled thoughts, but his poetry and antiwar thoughts remain the heart of it. Timely and relevant, it will speak vividly to many struggling to understand the fate of the post-9/11 world. Highly recommended for all libraries”—Library Journal
"Kim Stafford's collection of his father's most important writing on nonviolence and reconciliation has much to recommend it, including a substantial selection from William Stafford's unpublished “Daily Writings,” the journal he kept from 1951 until his death in August 1993. The collection also contains about 40 poems and several fascinating but obscurely published interviews, along with various other unpublished notes and statements. All of these will engage any reader genuinely interested in understanding the logic and idealism of nonviolence and reconciliation, especially as they were practiced by William Stafford."—James R. Hepworth, Bloomsbury Review