Every War Has Two Losers: William Stafford on Peace and War

Front Cover
Milkweed Editions, 2003 - Literary Collections - 168 pages
10 Reviews
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 wars simply don’t work. In his writings, Stafford showed it is possible—and crucial—to think independently when fanatics act, and to speak for reconciliation when nations take sides. He believed it was a failure of imagination to only see 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 1951-1991, Stafford uses questions, alternative views of history, lyric invitations, and direct assessments of our political habits to suggest another way 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.

Stafford provides an alternative approach to a nation’s military habit, our current administration’s aggressive instincts, and our legacy of armed ventures in Europe, the Pacific, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and beyond.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nmele - LibraryThing

I know I've read William Stafford's poetry before now, but this anthology of prose, poetry and interviews made me sit up and resolve to read everything by him I can find. The title is from a ... Read full review

Review: Every War Has Two Losers: William Stafford on Peace and War

User Review  - Glen Gersmehl - Goodreads

one of several anthologies of one of our best, most unpretentious poets of social change, nature, and the human experience Read full review

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2003)

William Edgar Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas on January 17, 1914. He received a B.A. in 1937 and a master's degree in English in 1947 from the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1954. During the Second World War, he was a conscientious objector and worked in the civilian public service camps. He wrote about this experience in the prose memoir Down in My Heart, which was published in 1947. He taught at Lewis and Clark College from 1948 until his retirement in 1980. During his lifetime, he published more than sixty-five volumes of poetry and prose including The Rescued Year, Stories That Could Be True: New and Collected Poems, Writing the Australian Crawl: Views on the Writer's Vocation, and An Oregon Message. He received several awards including a Shelley Memorial Award, a Western States Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry, and the National Book Award in 1963 for Traveling Through the Dark. In 1970, he was the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (a position currently known as the Poet Laureate). He died on August 28, 1993.

Kim Stafford has taught since 1979 at Lewis and Clark College, where he is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute and codirector of the Documentary Studies program. He also serves as the literary executor for the estate of William Stafford. He has worked as an oral historian, letterpress printer, editor, photographer, teacher, and visiting writer in communities and colleges across the country, and in Italy, Scotland, and Bhutan. Stafford has published a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft; Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford; and Having Everything Right: Essays of Place. He has received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Oregon Governor's Arts Award, and a Western States Book Award. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and children.

Bibliographic information