Remembrance Day

 Today is Remembrance Day,   November 11 . We are to remember all those who died in war, all those injured, all those who survived. Yet sometimes it seems more like a celebration, a parade. Yes, it’s good that it’s over, but was the war really necessary? Where are the regrets for the war? Wouldn’t it be better to try harder to prevent war? Of course that is no easy task. But war  must always be the last choice. “And if I could, I would send you a bone. Not to call you to war, but away from it. Something you cannot avoid seeing, touching. Something to make the blood on our hands visible, unmistakable. A limb, a shoulder, a hunk of flesh dripping real blood, from the rubble beneath the bulldozer, the doorstep, from the child shot dead in the gunfight or buried under the house, from the bomb shelters of Baghdad and from the bloody busses of Tel Aviv. A bone red with blood to say: This is what colonization requires: blood soaked sand, holy earth defiled with death, human sacrifice.” — STARHAWK Below are two poems from Wilfred Owen, an English soldier, sent off to die in… Continue reading

Regeneration by Pat Barker

This book is set during WW1 in England. It makes use of the factual poets Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Robert Graves. Fact and fiction are mixed together in this story about the psychological damage done to soldiers during the First World War. The issue of opposing the war is also discussed, since Siegfried Sassoon, one of the most famous of WW1 poets, opposed the war publicly. Those injured soldiers who opposed the merciless killing were equated with cowards and shirkers. The only apparent option for them was to return to the front in France to demonstrate they were not afraid. When Siegfried Sassoon was wounded in France he returned to England. Wilfred Owen felt he should replace Sassoon at the front so he could report independently on what conditions were like. He returned to France and was killed a week before the end of the war. His mother received the dreaded telegram the same day the church bells were ringing out proclaiming the end of the war. In the novel Regeneration, Rivers is a psychiatrist who treats men who were damaged psychologically by their experiences in the war. The men were often injured mentally as well as physically, yet… Continue reading

Sheba’s Vow

Sheba's Vow, book cover

SHEBA’S VOW is a novel about the struggle for democracy on a “South American” island. South Chale is ruled by a military dictatorship that has divided the country into four different racial groups, each strictly segregated. On South Chale, Asians rule the nation, while whites and blacks are treated as a subservient subclass. Sheba is born into the most despised class of all, the mongrels, for the mongrels blur the differences between the races. After seeing her father persecuted by the State Security Police, Sheba vows to work for the overthrow of the dictatorship Their neighbouring island (Suntos) has become communist, but here things are reversed—it is the blacks who rule over the whites and Asians. When Sheba visits Suntos to investigated whether they should seek the assistance of Soviet advisors, she finds a horror that is beyond anything she could have imagined. Sheba travels to Los Angles to try and gain American support against the dictatorship, but quite suddenly the dictator dies and there is a power struggle among the generals to appoint themselves President-for-life. Sheba returns home and becomes involved with the Democracy Movement. During the desperate fight for the presidency between the State Security Police and the… Continue reading