THE FACE OF WAR,” BY MARTHA GELLHORN.

“Martha Gellhorn was a fearless war correspondent for nearly fifty years and a leading journalistic voice of her generation.
“From the Spanish Civil War in 1937 through the wars in Central America in the mid-eighties, her candid reporting reflected her deep empathy for people no matter their political ideology, and the openness and vulnerability of her conscience. “I wrote very fast, as I had to,” she says, “afraid that I would forget the exact sound, smell, words, gestures, which were special to this moment and this place.” Whether in Java, Finland, the Middle East, or Vietnam, she used the same vigorous approach. Collecting the best of Gellhorn’s pieces on foreign conflicts and now with a new introduction by Lauren Elkin, The Face of War is what the New York Times called “a brilliant anti-war book” and has become a classic.”

Bull Buford, Granta, writes “HOW is it possible to have been so ignorant for so long of a writer who has written so passionately about the terror or war?”

The first paragraph is taken from the short biography of the book on the book’s website. The second review asks a question I have been asking myself since I started reading Ms. Gellhorn’s works.

“The Face Of War,” is undeniably one of the best books I have read on the terror of war, the frightful propaganda machine behind wars, and the untold victims of war: The civilians, women, and children, and especially the poorest people in the countries where the combatants are fighting.

Ms. Gellhorn’s book, a collection of articles from more than eleven countries where she covered wars, is unlike any book on war I have read because while covering wars in so many countries she gives us a profile of how differently the citizens of those countries responded to the war that was tearing their lives apart. The citizens of Madrid went about their business of surviving the daily bombing of their city during the Spanish Civil War as an inconvenience, removing the dead, and then going to work so they could buy food and take care of their children.

The Polish immediately set-up an underground to combat the Germans, while at the same time pretending to be their friends, farming the land the Germans confiscated from them, and handing over the food to the lazy, crazed Generals in charge.

During the ‘Six Day War’ where the Arab countries invaded Israel, and the Arabs were spreading propaganda among their soldiers that one had to kill all Jews even if they gave up because they were all evil.

After six days of war, despite the Arabs’ superiority in soldiers {as large as 4 to 1} and with the best of Soviet equipment, the Israelis gave them a lesson in conducting a war that they are still living with the consequences to this very day. After the war was won, the Israelis soldiers stopped sending back Egyptian prisoners of war across the Suez canal because the Egyptian Generals were greeting their POWs with a bullet to the head. The Israelis could not believe such barbaric behavior and had to call in the Red Cross to finish the evacuations.

And as Ms. Gellhorn is quick to point out it was not the average citizens going about the business of living and taking care of their children that started wars, but individual egomaniacs such as Hitler, or Arab Kings, or lying US Presidents such as Johnson and Nixon and Reagan, who started and continued wars with propaganda machinery that tricked the citizens of many countries to the very end.

In one piece she talks about a young German waiter in Berlin after the war. A nice, pleasant young man who tried to convince her and her friends that Hitler was not at all bad. After all he said, “Didn’t you Americans also have at your disposal French culinary delights and Italian pastries?”

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