We are in danger of engaging with war as though it were a philosophical enquiry or a strategic game if we leave out its essence: the death, the suffering, the destruction, the fear, the devastation that it brings, reflected in many among the texts in this anthology, written by eye-witnesses. Others – including the poems – are the product of a different sort of engagement with war: not the attempt at rational analysis but of artistic sublimation of the experience. This, too, represents a thoroughly valid approach missing from the academic works recommended in this section.
If this collection can be faulted, it is for leaving out works – many of great impact at their time, and some not without literary merit – that turned the experience of war into its direct or indirect praise. We thus look in vain for excerpts from Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel, for example. This omission is understandable, perhaps even commendable, but gives a skewed picture of how War was interpreted and how its image was passed on to new generations.