War And Literature


“Alas, nothing reveals man the way war does. Nothing so accentuates in him the beauty and ugliness, the intelligence and foolishness, the brutishness and humanity, the courage and cowardice, the enigma.” – Oriana Fallaci, Italian Journalist.
War, a phenomena, an event so traumatic and tragic, etches the history with stinging wounds; those which cannot be healed even with time. The repercussions of war sway on the timelines of histories and keep haunting the presents. Every war participant has a story of their own and the ones who do not participate also have an opinion. As Fallaci says that one needs to know the past thoroughly if they want to live in the present. One cannot simply forget or dismiss the history and start with a new process. Every individual, every place, every event, every nation is a part of a much larger process which is entwined in the fabric of the pasts.
Since ancient times, war is a recurring phenomenon. Wars have been fought for territorial expansions, for religious conflicts, and the causes are countless but mearge. While the etymological lineage for the word ‘war’ from old English and French suggests it meaning as ‘large scale military conflict’ and ‘dispute, fight, hostility, combat’, cognates suggest that the original sense of the word ‘war’ was ‘to bring into confusion’. We see here, how simply studying the lineage of the word can bring out to us a different perspective about the phenomena altogether. Such is history linked to everything we have around!
Reading literature related to war helps understand the phenomena from various point of views. The non-fiction, fiction, memoirs, psychology, technology, journalism, etc. open up the brains of the war and also of us as readers.
In this issue of Gyaan Kitaab, we bring to your attention some of the picked and powerful literary works on war. We have eight categories and a take away for readers of varying age groups. The categories include fiction, non-fiction, war memoirs, war and poetry, cyber war, war and journalism, juvenile books on war and war and psychology. To spark interest and to provide with a twitch point, each section has a must-read suggestion, while all the books are as essential and conclusive as the must-reads. From All Quiet on the Western Front written by a German war veteran Erich Maria Remarque, giving the alternate narrative from the German side of World War I; to a totally innovative approach to journalism and especially of war journalism where cartoonist Sarah Glidden gives a comic strip illustration of the Iraq war effects as she visits Middle East along with her journalist friends. The non-fiction section includes books related not only to the world wars but also the smaller wars which had a significant impact, like a book on the Naval Mutiny in India or the first war that was fought in India by the Nagas in the north east. There is also an analytical prediction of World War 3 by Shelford Bidwell.
From human interest stories, juvenile stories to analytical, political inclinations, Gyaan Kitaab has a take away for all. The War and Psychology section gives the reader an insight into the psychological bending of minds that goes on in military and war and also on the effects the war has. Shell Shock: Traumatic Neurosis and the British Soldiers of the First World War by Dr Peter Leese and On Killing by Dave Grossman are some of the books in this section.

– Aishwarya Walvekar
Guest Editor

Suggested Books


All Quiet On The Western FrontAll Quiet on the Western Front, Novel by Erich Maria Remarque, 1929, WWI


Untold Story 1946 Naval Mutiny: Last War of Independence – Ghanshyam Datt Sharma, 2015


The Other Side Of SilenceThe Other Side Of Silence: Voices From The Partition Of India – Urvashi Butalia

War Journalism

HiroshimaHiroshima – John Hersey

Cyber War

Dark TerritoryDark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War – Fred Kaplan

War and Psychology

On Killing – Dave Grossman,1995

War and Poetry

The Waste LandThe Waste Land – T. S. Eliot

Juvenile books on War

OttoOtto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear – Tomi Ungerer, 1999