Robert Graves: Military madness degenerating into savagery

Antiwar literary and philosophical selections

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Robert Graves: Selections on war

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Robert Graves
From Good-Bye to All That (1929)

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England looked strange to us returned soldiers. We could not understand the war madness that ran everywhere, looking for a pseudo-military outlet. The civilians talked a foreign language; and it was newspaper language. I found serious talk with my parents all but impossible…

The training principles had been recently revised. Infantry Training, 1914, laid it down politely that the soldier’s ultimate aim was to put out of action or render ineffectively the armed forces of the enemy. The War Office no longer considered this statement direct enough for a war of attrition. Troops learned instead that they must HATE the Germans, and KILL as many of them as possible. In bayonet-practice, the men had to make horrible grimaces and utter blood-curdling yells as they charged. The…

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