Every War Has Two Losers
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.
Every War Has Two Losers is an essential work from a National Book Award–winning, lifelong advocate for peace.
Like this book? Sign up for occasional updates
Praise and Prizes
“William Stafford’s prose and poetry, wise and eloquent, speak directly to the violence of our time, and to our hope for a different world.”
“If you want to survive this present period of institutionalized madness with your heart intact and your humanity authentic, by all means read this book.”
“Kim Stafford’s collection of his father’s most important writing on nonviolence and reconciliation has much to recommend it. . . . Assuming goodwill is not an easy position, but it can be learned, and it can be practiced. What’s more, we are all obligated to practice it, particularly in our world today. . . . A great book from which to take those important first steps.”
“William 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.”
“A fitting tribute to a lifelong pacifist and socially responsible American poet . . . Timely and relevant, it will speak vividly to many struggling to understand the fate of the post-9/11 world.”
“A father’s legacy and a son’s tribute, Every War Has Two Losers is an imaginative and thought-provoking collection of poems and prose to savor. William Stafford’s words are more timely than ever.”