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The Pentecost of Calamity

Owen Wister

Book Overview: 

Nonfiction. Appalled by the savagery of World War I, Owen Wister in 1915 published an attempt to move the United States out of neutrality into joining the Allies against Germany. His aim was the quicker defeat of that nation. (Wister: “the new Trinity of German worship – the Super-man, the Super-race, and the Super-state.”) He was but one of many literary personages who joined in this effort. A moving quote: “Perhaps nothing save calamity will teach us what Europe is thankful to have learned again – that some things are worse than war, and that you can pay too high a price for peace; but that you cannot pay too high for the finding and keeping of your own soul.”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .American was not looking after his country himself, and nobody was there to make him look after it while he rushed about climbing, climbing—and to what? A higher skyscraper. It was very restful to come to a place where the spirit of man was in stable equilibrium; where man's lot was in stable equilibrium; where never a schoolboy had been told[Pg 32] he might become President and every schoolboy knew he could not be Emperor.

The students on a walking holiday from their universities often wandered singing through Nauheim. Somewhat Tyrolese in get-up, sometimes with odd, Byronic collars, too much open at the neck, they wore their knapsacks and the caps that showed their guild. They came generally in the early morning while the invalids were strolling at the Sprudel. The sound of their young voices singing in part-chorus would be heard, growing near, passing close, then dying away melodiously among the trees.

A single little sharp discord vib. . . Read More

Community Reviews

You have to read Chapter XI many times it's so shocking Written in crisp style it lays out everything that led to WWI and then WWII

An interesting snapshot of Germany/Europe from the end of the 19th century thru the early 20th. A worthwhile endeavor for anyone interested in that era.

Lucid, prescient for today's and any day's rise of militarism and single-sighted propaganda. Published 1915, very interesting insights into the pivotal years at the beginning of WWI. Quick and rewarding read.